ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation)

So my blog post on ASUU which contained no facts has been accused of being fact free. I actually thought I explained this in the very first sentence and even called it a tirade. But no matter.

Now that I have your undivided attention, let me try again. This time around we shall stick to the facts. But before we get to that, I received another response from a Professor to my blog post and its reproduced below

This piece is utter rubbish for many reasons e.g : 1) Nigeria is not a poor country as claimed by the writer, the politicians just want everything to themselves at the expense of others. ASUU is relatively underpaid, my salary as a lecturer of 35 years and professor of 8 years is only half of that of a local govt councillor with no university education!
2) In any profession or group there will always be some not effective people, in the university I will put it at 10% definitely not 90%
3) Nigerian universities are currently understaffed because of student overpopulation, I take some classes with more than 500 students. So how can anyone in their right mind advocate a cut down in staff? Besides Nigeria now has over 70 universities and many lecturers are already teaching in 2 or 3 concurrently
4) If any cut down is needed it is in the political office holders, if at all in the universities perhaps in administrative staff.

1. This issue of student overpopulation is a recurring one so perhaps its best to start there. Undoubtedly, many universities are bursting at the seams at least to the naked eye. But this is mainly a problem of facilities not really overpopulation. Looked at in a different way – I was in Shanghai (24m people) and Beijing (20m people) this year and neither place felt anywhere near as crowded as Lagos. So this problem manifesting itself in packed lecture halls in our universities is no different from what causes gridlock traffic in Lagos everyday – we simply aren’t very good at organising ourselves.

But let’s look at some numbers starting with a rough calculation. There are currently around 37,504 academics/teaching staff in Nigeria’s 74 universities. Those same universities also have 1,252,913 students in total. This gives a rough ratio of 33 students to one lecturer. However this kind of headline data masks the very wide distribution across the schools. So for example the ratio in University of Abuja is 1:122 (512 lecturers) while LASU is 1:114 (797 lecturers)

However, Ondo State University of Science & Technology has 29 lecturers and 212 students giving a ratio of 1:7. Quickly we can see that the student to teacher ratio can be meaningless when taken as a whole but let’s persist. What is the ratio like in other similar countries?

Vietnam84,109 lecturers. I can’t find latest figures but a reasonable guess based on this report will be 1,900,000. So a 1:23 ratio. By the way, the average university lecturer’s salary was N24,000 ($150) per month in Vietnam in 2010 (more on this in next point). In that same year, Nigeria had a GDP per capita of $1,432 and Vietnam had $1,224. By 2012, they had overtaken us and had a slightly higher GDP per capita than us. Nevertheless, between 2007 and 2010, the government there rolled out 100 new universities.

China31 million students in 2011. I can’t find a total number of lecturers for all Chinese universities but I did find the student-teacher ratio for the top 20 Chinese universities in 2013. The list is here.  The ratios vary wildly. In Zhejiang University, it is 1:29 while at National Yan Ming Uni it is 1:98. All the others fall somewhere in between.

India – Student population was 12 million in 2011. The diagram below relates to 2006/07 but we can make a rough calculation. In total – adding colleges and universities, there were 488,002 teaching staff so a ratio of 1:25.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 23.14.36

South Africa – This report says that in 2008, the country had some 799,568 students in its universities. It also had 15,589 academics for a 1:51 ratio.

As I said earlier, this ratio can be very meaningless but it’s an argument that ASUU like to make but our numbers are not particularly crazy especially considering the hidden distribution.

2. Last year, there was a book released that compared lecturer salaries across 28 countries in the world. Nigeria happened to be one of those countries. The book is titled ‘Paying The Professoriate‘ and its findings were widely reported when it came out. So what did they find?

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 23.39.43

In the 28 countries studied, entry-level Chinese academics were the worst paid with a monthly salary of $259 while Canadian entry-level staff were the best paid at $5,733. Nigeria? $2,758 – higher than in France, Colombia, Brazil and Turkey and roughly the same as in Malaysia. At the top-level, Nigerian lecturers earn more than their counterparts in Japan and Norway. No, I am not making this up.

For years now, ASUU have gotten away with the idea (often not backed by facts) that they are underpaid. But relative to who? And how much exactly should we pay them? To be clear, ASUU members are 100% entitled to their pay because the government, in its wisdom or foolishness, signed the agreement. It must honour it. How much is enough to pay our lecturers and when can we start asking for returns for this pay?

3. Fun Fact: Since 2007, Nigeria has been led back to back by former lecturers.

Under President Yar’Adua in 2009, ASUU went on strike for 3 months which ended in October after government agreed to a 53% pay rise for senior lecturers. They had initially gone on a  1 week ‘warning’ strike in May of that year over an agreement reached in 2007. In 2007 they also went on strike for 3 months which ended in July of that year. How exactly are these pay rise numbers arrived at? I honestly have no idea but I imagine that ASUU have a strong hand to play with students sitting at home and parents asking government to just give ASUU what they want. 53% is a lot to get as pay rise in one go which is probably why governments always end up not honouring them and why ASUU will never say anything other than ‘government broke the agreement’ without telling us what the agreement was.

I digress. Goodluck Jonathan became President in 2010 and given that this is his first(?) strike, you have to say he is doing quite well. Yar’Adua was on his 3rd strike in the same time period. In any case, this current strike began on July 1st so he might break Yar’Adua’s record for length very soon.

But there is a subtler point to be made here – who can negotiate with ASUU to ASUU’s satisfaction? What you are seeing is typical bunker mentality you find in hardcore unions. The moment someone is not part of the group anymore, all past relationships are meaningless and he/she is to be treated like the enemy. If ASUU cannot sit down round a table with 2 of its former members and trash out an agreement that doesn’t waste the lives of thousands of students across the country, what hope is there for anyone else?

4. Does anyone have a copy of the 2009 agreement between government and ASUU that is supposedly the cause of the current strike? I cannot find it anywhere online and the links to it on the ASUU website are all dead. But I did find this press conference by the ASUU president, Nassir Isa at Unilag on August 22nd. Please read it. From it we can deduce that there was an agreement for the government to spend around N1.3trn (they will manage N100bn for now while N400bn is released to them each year for 3 years) on our universities over 3 years to ‘restore their lost glory once and for all’. Apparently this amount was arrived at ‘scientifically’. Please note that this is only for universities and not education in general.

In the 2013 budget, education got the highest allocation with N432bn. Of this amount, more than half (N291bn) already goes on universities. But ASUU want another N400bn. Perhaps no amount is too much to be spent on education but when you read the ASUU president’s statement, you quickly realise what this is all about – it’s a shakedown operation by experienced shakedown artistes. He is invoking the amount given to Nollywood and airlines and banks i.e. we want our own too. There is an ongoing debate about how the government spends our money very badly and this was part of the conversation during the fuel subsidy protests. Salaries and such like will consume N1.72trn in 2013. This is madness and we all know that if we break away from this model, so many things will improve even if only marginally.

But ASUU are very clever. When these conversations are going on, they never participate too loudly so as to not weaken their ‘brand’ or become part of something that will be eventually bigger than them. When they join the conversation, it is always to highlight how money is being spent elsewhere and not on them, given how they are the ‘key to the nation’s development’.

They want the money because they are ASUU…and they will take your children hostage if you don’t pay up.

All of this begs the question – what kind of government signs such an agreement anyway? Even the current budget is difficult to implement and every other day we worry about the government going broke. Are the government stupid or perhaps clever? I go with the latter because they surely know they can never pay this money.

By the way, out of curiosity, I put the ASUU president’s name into Google Scholar and it returned one result – a paper he co-wrote with 2 other academics. One. The man is a Professor, I will have you know and the journal in which it was published is a Nigerian one but at least it is online so 1 point for him.

Someone will say ‘oh but my professor has published several articles in international journals’. I am happy for you. But can you please help me ask your Professor why he is happy to be led by a man who is, to all intents and purposes, a non-academic?

5. Staying with journals and research publications. This is the bread and butter of academia and there is a well established ecosystem where academics publish their research in International Journals (note that international is different from foreign here). It is part of the system by which lecturers become doctors and professors and generally advance in their careers.

International journals thus make more sense because the opportunity to share knowledge and information is far greater than publishing in some local journal that no one reads. In short, this is the equivalent of exports in manufacturing which are the best signal that a country has arrived – you can always protect your local market and force the people to buy locally made goods but you will never know how good your products are or how well you are improving until you can sell it to foreigners who are under no compulsion to buy from you.

So what’s going on in Nigerian universities when it comes to publishing research? In 2012, something like 7,935 articles were published in Nigerian universities. Of that number, 3,304 (41%) were published ‘in-house’ i.e. an academic carries out research in say LASU and then publishes his findings in a LASU journal (usually his own department) and that is the end of the matter. Another 3,288 (41%) are published in other local journals i.e. an academic in UniBen publishing in a UniPort journal. The remaining 1,343 are published in foreign journals. More than 80% of Nigerian academics are unknown in the international academic circle i.e. when you put their name in Google Scholar, you will get nothing in return.

It is possible to describe Iyanya as a Maestro who specialises in the high art of waist music. But you can also describe him truthfully – a singer of very danceable trash. What you are seeing with those journal numbers is corruption. There is no other name to call it. The publishing of research papers involves rigour, this is what academia is about. And opening up your work to the world via international journals means that you have to put in the sweat and hours if only to avoid embarrassment.

Our academics have found a way to bypass this rigour, the most fundamental part of their calling, by creating a corrupt system away from scrutiny. A lecturer carries out some ‘research’ and publishes his ‘findings’ in the ‘journal’ run by the department in which he is employed. Journal noni. He will put it on his CV and go towards his publication count for the day when he will be promoted. This is not much different from a policeman staging arrests to make himself look good and hardworking. Of course these journals are not published online – they are in a cupboard somewhere in the school department, so even if the work was copied wholesale from somewhere else, who is going to find out?

Every single lecturer, who is part of this system, is damned by it, including the ones who actually work hard to get published internationally. It is a corrupt system and all who come in contact with it, will be stained, no matter what they do.

I ask again, what are we getting for the money we are paying our lecturers? Of course there are good, conscientious, decent and hard-working lecturers in the system. It is not all policemen that are corrupt – Monday Agbonika is doing his best but he is daily undermined by the ‘pay me my money‘ brigade, who remain in the overwhelming majority.

Ordinarily, this wont be a problem per se – Nigerian lecturers are behaving exactly like Nigerians. But it must be challenged when they put themselves out as custodians of the nation’s development, set apart for signs and wonders and anointed not to be touched.

And we have not yet gone into the PhDs who obtained their BSc, Masters and PhD from the same university often without a break in between. Perhaps the most egregious example of this trend is Mr President himself

1977 – 1981 – B.Sc – University of Port Harcourt – Zoology

1983 – 1984 – Masters – University of Port Harcourt – Hydro/Fisheries Biology

1987 – 1995 – D Phil – University of Port Harcourt – Zoology

How very depressing to spend all your academic life in one university. How can this ever be seriously described as seeking out knowledge? And this corrupt practice is rampant in our universities. Make no mistake about it, there is a financial incentive for doing this because pay increases with journals published and degrees obtained.

6. Despite everything above, I have no problem with academic staff earning more money. I am dubious as to whether this will improve quality, but it is maybe worth a shot.

The idea that more money to people in Nigeria will solve any given problem is rather popular but surprisingly lacking in evidence. A few days ago, some young men and women went to the National Assembly to demand accountability for N1trn that has disappeared into a sinkhole there. We have thrown this astronomical sum at these men and women and they have not stopped throwing blows and chairs. Indeed, the more money they are paid, the worse they behave. For your N150bn this year, you get a law banning gay marriage that was never legal in the first place.

Ordinarily, high pay should attract quality people and top talent. But this is not happening at all in Nigeria. The high pay in the NASS is creating a perverse incentive that makes the place very attractive to brigands, part-reformed thugs, wide boys, chancers and cultists. In short, in this scenario, high pay has made it impossible for good guys to get anywhere near the place. To get a decent chap in there now, a governor will practically have to rig on his behalf and teleguide the process to ensure the preferred outcome.

As a result of this, many Nigerians now believe that a part-time legislature will do us a world of good especially because they will earn much less. We have come full circle – to get good people into our NASS, we have to pay them practically peanuts so as to make it unattractive for the aforementioned people i.e. there is reason to believe that if we pay our legislators very little, we might (hopefully) get people who go there because they genuinely want to do the work we want them to. You see this life?

When corruption and general bad behaviour has eaten deep into a system, paying more money to the insiders is more likely than not to make the problem worse. The insiders now have more reason and motivation to double down while the only people who will be able to dislodge them from the outside are those who are probably worse than them. It’s the nature of the beast. If you keep increasing the pay of lecturers when they ask for it, it cannot be long before we have an ex-militant Professor. Is there any reason why you think this cannot happen? Look around you and see the kind of positions being occupied by ex-militants and think again.

The only way around this is to tie pay rises to genuine performance and not the current ‘inflation adjustment’ that ASUU currently negotiates in the name of fighting for education. Publish your papers in international journals so we know its real. Ban in-house journals completely. Stop any promotion based on more than one degree from the same university. Bring back rigour into the system so that if anyone is getting paid, we can be confident that they are not gaming the system.

This business of asking for money all the time by ASUU absolutely has to stop. Those affected – students and parents – must see this behaviour exactly for what it is and apply pressure where it should be applied. ASUU will strike and the government will sign an agreement it has absolutely no intention of keeping. In all this, it is students who end up as the football being kicked around.

A few of my friends tell me I am being too hard on ASUU and ignoring the real source of the problems – the government. What is there to learn from that? This is the argument I heard all the while I was allegedly in a Nigerian university and the lecturers were on strike. The Nigerian government cannot fix the Lagos – Ibadan expressway. It celebrates, with much fanfare, a train service that takes the better part of 2 days to go from Lagos to Kano. No, I will instead question the motives of a group of people who continue to employ the same strategy in dealing with such a government.

The reality is that government funding is addictive and after a while the only kind of thinking that its recipients can engage in is the perverse type. Federal Universities in Nigeria today charge N90 for a bed space. What kind of madness is that? If we were to investigate, I’m almost certain we will find that they do this because increasing the cost of the bed space to market values will probably reduce some funding they get from the government i.e they will have to work. It was only a few weeks ago that ABU ‘launched’ (just like other Nigerians, our lecturers too are addicted to launching things) a N50bn internet fundraising drive. They have now discovered the use of the internet as a way of tapping up their alumni scattered around the globe. Better in 2013 than never. But think of all the quietly wealthy ex-ABU students who have died and who might have given the University some money but didn’t because no one reached out to them. In any case, the only money that comes with zero accountability is government money especially because the government itself wouldn’t know accountability if it landed on its lap dressed as a Laker girl. So government money can be used to buy furniture for VC’s office and build a new grandiose university gate. Who’s asking?

One of the roles of ASUU in our society is to think us out of our problems. So it’s up to them to put a plan on the table that does not involve more money in their pockets. Something that takes us away from this broken model of funding. E don do. And its time for everyone involved to face some home truths.

Finally, 8 universities (out of 74) in Nigeria account for 33% of all the students – LASU, UniAbuja, UniPort, UniBen, ABU, NOUN (Open Uni), UniMaid, Ekiti. We can explain LASU on that list by its location – Lagos is the most populous state in the country so a state university there will always attract numbers. The rest of course are all Federal universities. There is undoubtedly still an attraction to federal unis above state schools…universities are afterall brands themselves. This also puts a lie to the popular assertion that state schools are responsible for the drop in standards. There’s hardly anyone there and students seem to discount them already. Plateau and Bauchi state universities have less than 500 students each and Akwa Ibom has just over 800.

The real outlier on that list is Ekiti State University. I have not been there and I will confess that this is pure speculation on my part. But Ekiti is a tiny state so if the state University is one of the most populous in the country, it’s worth checking out. I have a strong feeling that it is a well run (relatively) university. Earlier this year, Governor Fayemi pushed through school fees increases that went as high as N150,000 per year for some courses. Having learnt a thing or two from their lecturers, the students promptly went on strike and protests. In the end I believe Governor Fayemi agreed to allow the students pay the fees in installment over the year.

If this is what I think it is – the state government trying to get the school to stand on its own feet – then it is an important development and represents the future of where we need to get to. The rest of the equation to be sorted out will then be how to have a working loans system that students can access to pay their fees.

When that day comes, watch out for the position that ASUU will take.

FF

Addendum

1. I have taken a lot of my data from a report that was submitted to the FG last year on the state of Nigerian universities. You can find it here

2. A good friend of mine also took me to task on my first post. His blog post is here

3. Apologies in advance for all typos (mine) and grammatical errors (the devil)

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27 thoughts on “ASUU Part Deux: This Time The Facts (And Only A Bit of Speculation)

  1. FF: ASUU Part Deux is arguably a better read than the first. Now, I wait patiently for a well written and data backed rebuttal.

    Thank you for a job very well done. Your [Nigerian] lecturers must be so proud.

  2. As always very interesting write-up. I’m surprised why people couldnt stamp it on their head U said your first article was a tirade. I took it as such without too much weight. It was an interesting was to bring debate into an issue that ordinarily goes a simple pro/anti.
    I basically have a comment on every line of your article. So I fear my comment to be as lengthy as the post it self. Just more boring, and of coursenot-original!
    Kudos for making me confirm the more how very inefficient our lecturers are.

  3. I enjoy the way you have stirred the hornet’s nest with this part deux, not just based on conjecture (most of which were true anyways), but now backed with hard nosed facts. Eventually, most of what you have stated above will happen, it will only be a matter of time.

    Kudos on having the guts to take ASUU to task as well – a rare feat considering that most times we have always sided with them against the government of the day.

  4. Thanks for a well-researched argument. I hope some ASUU member gives a fact-based response as well. Good thing is that we are starting to have a conversation about this.
    I can relate very well to what you said about in-house published journals. When I was researching for my final year project, I came across a dusty library of local journals with very boring and similar titles; it was very depressing. A visiting fulbright scholar wrote about it too- http://xokigbo.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/guest-blog-post-missive-to-ikhide-ikheloa-a-diasporan-fulbrights-experience-of-higher-education-in-nigeria/
    The figures you quote appear very compelling at a first glance; it suggests some mismanagement/diversions on the part of the universities… I think the government should demand for a transparent accounting of universities’ expenses from ASUU. I don’t know how regularly external audit is done, but if that happens on a constant basis, I suppose universities will spend the money better on quality research and student development. Because from my student experiences, there is very little money available for proper research; some lecturers even spend their own money. And I think we can say that is partially to blame for the in-house publishing and their inability to compete with their international contemporaries.
    Let’s hope something concrete really comes out of this strike, beyond the call for increased salaries, broken agreements and blame game. I hope universities can really begin to do what they were established to do.

  5. Really good read. Feyi is in my fantasy cabinet.

    Question: Are ASUU’s demands more about teacher pay or the bigger issues of university autonomy / overall funding of higher education? Even though on the face of it, it appears contradictory to ask for both from the same government at the same time.

  6. Feyi, Feyi, Feyi… Hmmm… How many times have I called you? At least I’m happy you knew better than to confront Prof Oyebode (my VC @ UNAD then) headlong, so you’ve decided to use “facts” now abi…

    I’m def with you on tackling this behemoth called ASUU and I’m veeeery glad at how you’ve called them out for what they mostly represent. I’m sure there are number of them that represent the good breed, but it seems they’ve just been drowned out.
    Listening to some of the ASUU leaders speak I’m afraid doesn’t inspire much confidence in their ability to grasp let alone proffer solutions to the current realities of d state.

    Kudos for a more thorough piece!

  7. Hi F,
    It’s obvious you did put in a lot of good work on this piece, I didn’t read the first but I read your good friend’s..
    A couple of trivial things I’ve got to point out;
    How did you arrive at that pay figure for Entry level lecturers? Is that per annum or monthly? This is because I’ve got friends lecturing in Federal Unis who’s monthly is grossly below $1000 per month.

    Secondly,
    I do not see anything wrong in having all of one’s degrees from same university. I’ve also got friends who have all of their degrees from Imperial College.
    Finally Lol @ that Iyanya bit, I totally agree with you *smiles* he sings absolute nonsense.

    Cheers

    1. I didn’t arrive at it. It was from research carried out in 28 countries. Click on the links. The results were published in a book last year.
      The pay is average pay per month so naturally there will be people earning below the average and those earning above it.

      There is definitely something wrong with obtaining all your degrees from a single institution. Your friend is not a lecturer are they? This is about lecturers who are supposed to research wide and seek out knowledge to dispense to others operating from a closed environment.

      1. Thanks so much Batty for your comment on lecturers pay, i dont know why someone would choose to misinform the public about what lecturers earn. What research are you talking about Aguntasolo, i am very interested in having a look at the statistics you used for your computation. You took your time to point out that the average student/lecturer ratio would not depict a true picture of the student spread but you mischievously remained silent on the figure used for lecturers pay. I have been lecturing at a federal university for close to 15 years and i dont earn up to $1,000 a month. I will gladly show you my payslips for any length of time you want and i can get from my colleagues too. The highest pay for an academic (professor) in Nigeria is N500,000 per month and you get to that position if you are lucky after at least 25years of service. And professors only started earning this amount after one of the ASUU strikes in recent years. Professors and Ass. Professors make up less than 5% of the population of Nigerian academics, the rest are made up of lecturers below that rank who earn far less.You talk about publishing in foreign journals do you know what it cost to do that, the average cost is $400 per article, some cost as much as $600. This is just the cost of publishing which does not include the cost of conducting the research itself such as field study and lab materials for those in the sciences. How can we do that out of the less than $1,000 we are paid monthly considering the cost of living in Nigeria. The poorly paid lecturers are busy running from pillar to post to take care of their families and keep body and soul together rather than concentrating on their jobs. Did you bother to find out from your internet search why academics from other countries have degrees from several universities, who pays for sending them all over the world to expose and broaden their knowledge? Is it not the government or their institutions through scholarships, grants and paid study leave. Your expectations from ASUU are so lofty but even though rightly so, how do you justify giving a man a cutlass and a hoe and yet you expect the yields equal to that of a mechanized farm. And your excuse of not having access to the agreement holds no water, if you were really interested in putting forth facts as you claim you would search for one (it has already been analyzed in many newspapers) then you would see that the agreement mainly covers a lot of issues relating to university autonomy, hostels for students and infrastructural development and not pay increase as you are trying to portray on this blog. Infact, there is no demand for par rise only allowances which is not fixed but based on the extra workload borne by academics especially in some departments like business faculties where we usually have a large number of students.
        It appears to me as if you are carrying over a grudge which you seem to have towards ASUU either from the strikes you apparently suffered when you were a student, because it is obvious that your submissions are lopsided.
        Although I will never claim here or at any fora that Nigerian lecturers measure up to standard, my candid and sincere opinion is that many who are lecturers today have no business being in the university. That is why my question to you is ” What should come first, the Cart or the Horse? If the government and people of Nigeria decide to do what is right by laying down the proper structures in Nigerian universities, from pay structure to infrastructure and the likes, then i think they will also be entitled to demand for quality service from our lecturers. Anyone who then cannot deliver will be shown the way out because there will be many people waiting on the wings to take up the position. It will become competitive just as obtained in educational institutions all over the world and just like in the private sector (e.g. Banking). I strongly believe that university education is a potential money spinner for the government. In countries like the United kingdom and even Ghana and Egypt in Africa, Education is a huge resource and it does not come cheap either to the government or the people (students). We need to go back to the drawing board. But lambasting ASUU because you want students to stop staying at home while we are on the fast lane downwards to nowhere is a no-no.

      2. All the figures I used are linked there. If you click on the links you will see them there. They are not my numbers, the research was carried out in 28 countries and the Nigerian part was conducted by a Nigerian

        Well my problem here is that this ASUU weapon of strikes is rather effective but you only use it for pay for yourselves. That’s the only thing you strike about. The rest of the reasons are just lip service.
        ASUU say they want autonomy but this is not even skin deep because aut will spell the end of ASUU as union

        This strategy of striking is clearly not working because you win the battle but always lose the war. What govt gives yo with one hand, it takes away with the other.
        Isn’t it time for some soul searching and to consider another strategy by fighting for other things?

        At the end of this strike govt will cave in and release some money to you and then next year we will be back here again.

        It’s tiring

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  11. Quite an interesting article from you. Really thought provoking. While I totally disagree with some of the facts stated, I understand the general idea of this article. I want to share some of my views (that i cannot post on this blog) as a member of ASUU. You have my email addy.

    That said, you have to understand the realities on ground, the politics of the educational sector, the politics of ASUU, the gross irresponsibility of the government and the jungle politics that everybody plays as a means to a self determined end. ASUU is different from the University administration and more often than not, those professors you find in the corridors of power as VCs or ministers in Abuja have a lot of political backing. There are also members of the ASUU (even national executive members) who ride the waves of the current malfunctioning educational system and administrative lapses in this country to the corridors of power in Abuja and to political stardom. Not everybody wants to become a professor. On realising that this country is a sinking ship, even those who had lofty ideas about their future as an academic leave research and the paths to academic stardom to the unrealistic and cross over to a more pragmatic “share the spoils” ideology. Many settle for less, opt for the politics of Abuja and the potential to share the national cake despite their scholarship potentials. Many of the VCs are involved in misappropriation of funds ( I don’t have the evidence to call it embezzlement). But what do you expect, THEY ARE ALL POLITICAL APPOINTEES . So understand me when I say the government created the problems (in my first post on your blog) and continue to provide enabling environment for the total collapse of the sector.

    That said, I will only talk about what I know. Do I support this strike? Yes I do. Why? I need a world class laboratory. I need to stop spending my salary (what they call living stipend in Canada, Australia etc) on reagents and analysis. Even Brazil pays you RS 2,200 for being a PhD student before providing for your research (you never start to dey teach and supervise labs oooooo. thats about what a Lecturer 1 earns here). The Canadian Institute of Health research had an annual appropriation of $1 billion dollars in 2010 – 2011 (about $100 million from partners) for health research alone. I do not know if this amount is part of what they write in Canada’s annual education budget, I do not kknow if they are told by world monetary agencies that they cannot be spending that much on education/research. I did not bother to find out if it is even Canadian or US dollars. But I know professors who have $11 mil, $40 mill for their research team. I also know that they have world class equipment and continue attract young Nigerian minds who have the potential to contribute immensely to this system. A colleague of mine was “skyping” with a lecturer in Australia few weeks ago. I didn’t pay attention to their discussion until the guy had mentioned 5 equipments in his laboratory. He further mentioned about fifteen and that he has and 5 others access others that he has access to in the laboratory of his supervisor (the guy never become professor and he already has his own lab. It means he is close to professorship anyway). He also mentioned two other equipment he has submitted application to acquire that he is confident of getting. All his degrees are from the same university, he was allowed to go for a post doc in USA to also see what others are doing (That yo get all your degrees in one university is not the sin. if you refuse to move out for post docs, then you are a sinner). He has equipments worth more than $500 mil in his own laboratory.

    However, the emphasis of my post on your blog is not to call out the countries who spend more that Nigeria, but to state that what Nigeria is currently spending is on salaries, and not on the requirements for moving the sector forward. The government has to create has benchmark of excellence to allow other players to come-in and assist. That is the way the game is played all over the world. No pharmaceutical company would buy a $ 50 mil equipment for you anywhere in the world. They’ll ask themselves financial questions. if we buy just one equipment for this amount, how much will the entire research be worth, at a risk of “sorry! we have looked at it critically but our idea was brilliant but it cannot work. We have however created knowledge that this idea cannot work so that others wont bother”. Again! I only talk about what I know.

    The future is bleak. Bleak because the private sector of the university enterprise can also not fund massive research. they all troupe to the so called first generation universities to carry out the little research they are doing (Are the doing research? or just teaching). They reality is that the bulk of Nigerian academics don’t even have PhDs. When They finally get it, it is difficult to compete for the same Post Doc in US of Germany that a guy from India competes for (The Indian and the Chinko guy get equipment for them country na ideas dem dey go find outside) except such fellowships are specific for the developing world. Even at that when they finally get it, if they get post docs, attempts are made to retain them in Europe and America (Even Uganda and Botswana dey try retain!!). The stubborn ones who come back “by fire by force” find out that nothing is still on ground and settle to the business of doing research with their salaries (for the sake of promotion) sending samples abroad for analysis or eventually pack their loads and go to countries where their services are needed. The fact is more than 60 % of Nigerian academics do not have a PhD and they cannot get it soon and also do a good job at research because of the amount of teaching and marking they are saddled with. They also have to do business because their salaries cannot fun their research and provide for their families.

    Am I one of those looking for ways to get out you may ask? or How did I find myself in the system? I can only you that I know many brilliant people who continue to wait on scholarship to study abroad simply because they cannot entertain the thought doing their postgraduate studies here in Nigeria (I certainly not be here if I have gotten a scholarship on my first and only attempt). They continue to wait while holding good jobs in the private sector till they can no longer leave the the private sector for lower pay and standard of living due to the “responsibilities of life” that accompanies getting a job in Nigeria. When you send me a mail me or your email addy, I’ll be more willing to paint a grimmer picture of where we are as a nation with regards to the university education, give your the facts that I know, naming names (that you can check out). And yes I worked in the private sector a few months before resigning to start my MSc. in Nigeria. Many of my colleagues also did (one worked with two different companies before coming to join us) and we are all in support of the strike if it will bring the world class laboratories that we need. The gist we hear is that even the so called N100 bill. released has been allocated to bogus hostel projects (of N 1.2 mil per bed space) in all universities with these politicians and their conniving VCs supplying the contractors (I cannot confirm if this is part of the jungle politics going on). The N30 Bil is for ASUU to share (the other Unions) and return to work.

    *All typos and grammatical errors are mine. I didn’t read this twice. No time.
    *I have also trivialised the last paragraph with unnecessary details about myself to drive home a point.

  12. I have bin lecturing for 6 yrs a have a Pgd plus united nation trained, commonwealth Scholar, lots of grants and my salary is 152,000 a month divided by 160 that will be $ 950 so pls show me d Uni that pays the rate u mention let me move to it pls abeg u

  13. You just wowed me with the article & I agree whole heartedly with you. Its only in Nigeria that a university does not have good labs and VCs are driving 2013 cars. Well its the govt I blame for sending numb shulls to negotiate with ASUU. You need to run this article in major newspapers. Thisday, Punch, Daily Trust e.t.c

  14. Did U really read the comment by that professor? Tho comparison for ASUU staff is the sum paid our government officials. You shd compare wat’s paid govt officials, in those countries you listed, with university staff.

  15. Thank so much for this elaborate write up.
    Please this info analysis will have been better if it was 2009 edition not now because it seem political,also do us a favour by using the same manner to analyse the earning of nigerian politician compare to other countries you mention..you think ASUU are inhuman absolutely not.this is not a remedy to the ongoing strike rather a disastrous information giving the Government hands to frustrates ASUU nothing more.

    1. I believe lecturers are inhuman.ASUU has frustrated many people and that’s the truth.In all this,its the students that suffer.Because even if government gives in to all their demands,it still won’t make unserious lecturers serious.Or make them stop victimizing students.During my University days I spent up to a year in strikes.It was not funny,my mates in other universities left for lawschool and we remained at home cos of ASUU.I also think most of their demands should not be honored.Let them kick rocks

  16. A wonderful piece and incisive. I agree with you on several grounds such as more money corrupts a system and lecturers need to publish in international journals. However, I believe the bulk of this problem still lies on the part of our politicians who know what is right but has deliberately refuse to do them maybe because it might reveal the true nature of their past shady deals. This is one reason why the political circle is constantly made up of the same old guards with the introduction of their sons, aids, etc as successors.
    Madam you were once a govt official and during your time I can’t remember ever hearing you speak about the way and manner govt goes about spending so much money on projects that do not impact on the lives of the common nigerians. Pls let me add that no amount of money is too much for the education sector. What ASUU is demanding for is not too much for the govt to do, however, ASUU must have to do more sanitisation at home if it must be seen as the bedrock to the nations development. I am disappointed that our universities can’t even organise science fair where new scientific discoveries will be exhibited and the best school awarded. No competitive edge amongs the universities… Our universities now thrive on past glory only and nothing new to show for it.

    If the govt cannot fund the education, cannot fund the power sector, cannot provide security and conducive environment for students to learn, cannot provide good roads and better means of transportation,cannot produce fuel for its self, etc. What can it provide? What is the Job of the govt then? Just to pay salaries of workers? Attend to issues(gay marriage, child marriage, etc) that need no attention? Discussing 2015 elections at the expense of governance? Governors leaving their duties only to fight another state governor for not performing?

    Nigerian politics has been turned into a child play and the battle of big vocabularies against one another.

    Madam you have made a good point but have carefully written out the govt from all the wrong. I also blame ASUU for not being aticulative on ways to fund the universities, as well as improve education standards. Very soon lecturing Job will be like those civil service jobs where they just report at their office only to sit and chew groundnut and read newspaper, nothing to contribute. We all must do our part to ensure the future of education in this country is not measured by how much a student can pay for school fees, it should be based on the quality every school must offer!

    With the increase of fees by the govt of lagos state in LASU, I want to ask – has it improved the quality of learning? Will it over night make the school a better one? Pls let’s see to it that first things are done first. We all need to advocate and ensure that our govt becomes more responsible towards its duties. A govt that cares more about its political opposition than the yawnings of its people is irresponsible!

    Madam pls do use the media you have to ensure that the truth be told always and the people don’t end up blaming the wrong group. ASUU is only doing what they can to improve their working conditions so they can provide the best for the Nigerian student!

  17. Welldone, some very hard facts there, somehow I knew ASUU was being too demanding but now am sure ASUU are just being ridiculously insensitive..there’s so much to be done and instead of Universities to sit back and think of re-organizing the system, they sit at their homes wasting precious lives.

  18. This a good work well done. I haven’t regret following you. If other Nigerians will throwaway political differences and stand by the government a tell ASUU to stop this unreasonable strike. You don’t necessarily destroy the foundation to carry on a renovation

  19. I admire the writer’s commitment to conversation and sharing of ideas. Few will post a link to the blog of writers who disagree with them. I must commend him for this. I totally agree that quality improvement and a performance based system must be entrenched in our universities; however in some areas, I disagree with the writer.
    The writer refers to the population issue as mainly “ a problem of facilities…..” That doesn’t really capture the reality of what his Professor friend mentioned about teaching a class of 500 students; probably in poorly ventilated lecture halls. We expect this same Professor to mark 500 scripts and when the issue of earned allowances comes up, we say no? In such a class, do we really expect the students to learn much? I can identify with this because my 100 level class was about 350. We struggled to get the front seats, of course the hall couldn’t sit all of us and there were no sound systems. So making clear cut ratios as the author did, doesn’t really capture the reality.
    “….Nigeria? $2,758 – higher than in France, Colombia, Brazil and Turkey and roughly the same as in Malaysia” The author claims this is the salary of an entry-level Nigerian lecturer. I wonder which university pays that and will be glad if the author can tell us. I will quote what I have seen : N132,000/month for a Lecturer 2 ($825), you can imagine a graduate assistant will certainly earn lower, say ($ 625). However I must admit this is more than what a Chinese lecturer earns as quoted by the author.
    I see the author sticks to the issue of pay being all what ASUU’s interested about. No matter what ASUU or any one says, he sees hypocrisy in it all. It’s possible that this stems from the author’s past experience in school. Yes, ASUU’s past is not completely noble.
    All the same, one must look closely at what ASUU is saying now. According to Fagge, Federal Government, in 2009 signed an agreement to pay each lecturer N12,500 per month as EARNED allowance, which it has not done since then.
    He said: “The allowances include excess work load, high carriage of student per lecturer, responsibility allowance, ranging from administrative responsibility borne by lectures for example, as Head of Department, Deans of Faculties, Examination Officers, Course Advisers and Supervision of thesis. The highest any lecturer gets from this allowance is N12,500 per month. The truth is that since 2009 no lecturer has been paid any allowance apart from his salary.” See : http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/07/asuu-begins-strike-over-mou-with-fg/
    Are we surprised at the accumulated amount?
    Also speaking, Prof. Mohammed Kabir Aliyu, said: “During my university days (in ABU), we were nine in my class and the lecturers knew all our names and faces. They knew how all of us were performing and they were able to monitor our performance and how to intervene if we needed help. But now I teach 250 students in the same space that nine people were taught. I teach in the Faculty of Arts and since I came here as a student in 1983, no single class has been added and the number of students keeps increasing more than 100 times.”
    “By the National Universities Commission (NUC) minimum standard, I am supposed to teach 30 students in a class, now I am teaching 250. This means I am doing the work of about seven lecturers. This is where the issue of allowances for excess work load comes in. So, lecturers are also being overstretched.
    “Go to our classrooms, you will see how our students will be hanging on the window to receive lectures because the population is too large. Go to the hostels and see how they live. A room that is meant for two or four people, you will see 10 or 15 people. The toilets are overstretched to the extent that you cannot even use them.

    “The equipment that were purchased decades ago which have become obsolete are still being used today. If you go to the biological sciences, you will see students queuing to use an outdated microscope for their practicals. See http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/this-is-your-university-/160277
    For the author to completely ignore the needs assessment of our universities that was done, shows he’s not interested in the effort put in this exercise. The exercise was one in which the government was involved in ( the ministry of education, SGF’s office, House of representative, TETFUND chairman , ASUU representative etc). The amount ( N1.3trn) was not arbitrary but clearly calculated based on the needs assessed. The author’s argument ignores this and yet harps on ASUU’s “unjustified salaries”.
    No matter what ASUU says to describe what was meant by earned allowances, the author will not accept. University councils were involved, clearly stating who qualified for payment based on the academic responsibilities lecturers took. For the author to say these earnings aren’t justified after one reads the above quoted lecturers , makes me wonder. ASUU has repeatedly said the 92bn is earned allowances for ALL university staff not just the academics, but ofcourse the author doesn’t think the earned allowances were justified in the first place.

    The idea that produced ETF now TETFUND is a noble one. It happened following similar altercations with government. This must be maximized and not abused as many fear it is being abused already.
    Should we expect better from ASUU? A big YES!!!! Are there many areas they are at fault? Yes. Have lecturers defaulted on their responsibilities? Have they made life difficult for students? Yes!!!! The author in his other blogs described this perfectly. The household of academics is certainly in need of sanitation but to say it’s not necessary to provide the funds as captured in the needs assessment of our universities or to pay deserving lecturers their “earned allowances”, leaves a lot to be desired. To embark on an anti-ASUU campaign is ok, I understand the author desires an improvement in their output. The other issues mentioned above however must be acknowledged to make for a complete argument.

  20. Pingback: RE: ASUU Strike | rosanwo

  21. The writer of this piece could best be described as a “Desktop Researcher”. He has absolutely no idea of what he is talking about. I am in the system; the data he gave on salary and what have you is completely false! I guess he has no idea of what he is talking about!

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