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Fadeyi Oluwaseun
Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomosho
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Graduate, Nigeria.

Urges restraint on licensing of more varsities
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have tasked the education minister, Adamu Adamu, to fix the myriads of problems confronting the sector as he begins his second term.
Having declared emergency in the sector, they urged him to follow it through by fixing the rot in the sector.ASUU national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in a chat with The Guardian said the minister should ensure that the 2012 report on the FGN’s committee on the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities is updated and fully implemented.

“The proliferation of universities by both Federal and state governments should stop. What Nigeria needs, for now, is to address the rot and decay in existing public universities and expand spaces to accommodate more prospective students. Governments should stop creating universities they have no plan to fund,” Ogunyemi said.

On his assessment of Adamu’s first four years, the ASUU chief said although the minister made efforts to unearth the critical issues hampering the development of education in this country, he failed to attract improved budgetary allocation to the sector.But SSANU expressed regrets that the minister failed to bring to bear his personal accomplishments and integrity into the job during his first term.

The union, through its national public relations officer, Abdussobur Salaam recalled that the issue of university staff schools, over which its members embarked on a warning strike last week, was one of the first issues that were brought to his attention in December 2015 when he first assumed office.

“We met with him on January 3, 2016 and he assured us that the matter would be resolved since we had a subsisting agreement dating back to 2009. This was, however, not the case, as we had to go court and embarked on about three industrial actions to ensure implementation of the court order, which reiterated our 2009 agreement on the staff schools. This should not have happened and you can imagine the losses and distractions to the system on account of an issue, which the minister needed to be more assertive over.

SSANU alleged that the minister, during his first term allowed his leadership of the ministry to be hijacked by some interests who were bent on destroying the sector.

“It would appear that the minister in his first coming, was afraid not to rock the boat and was quite cold about many issues. To this end, in this second coming, we expect him to come up with more energy to change the statusquo in the nation’s educational system. There is a lot of rot and corruption in the sector, which he would do well to address. He acknowledged this in his ministerial screening and it would be good if he takes a holistic review of appointments of heads of parastatals and start with them in clearing the corruption, identified as a bane in the system.”

SSANU further enjoined Adamu to cause a revolution in the university system by focusing on the laws guiding tertiary institutions as being operated today, with a view to ensuring that those laws are holistically reviewed.

“The current laws in the universities are such that they make appointments of vice chancellors highly ethnicised and localised, thereby reducing global reckoning and standing. The laws also create monsters out of vice chancellors who become a leviathan in the universities they administer rather than being first amongst equals.”

The existing laws also created skewed representation in the running of the affairs of the university among all stakeholders and a non- democratic culture where only one group determines everything that goes on in the system. Subsequently, SSANU called for a review of the existing university laws and come up with a bill to the National Assembly where these issues would be reviewed.

The union maintained that the flawed process formed the foundation of the many challenges facing the university system.“It is not enough to say we have spent so much on education or on the universities. Throwing money at problems in the universities would not solve the problems. But a holistic and developmental review of the laws as presently being practiced would do more for the integrity and global reckoning of the institutions more than the humongous amounts being thrown at the system.

“One challenge we have observed over the years is the lack of accountability in the system. We have a group within the system whose main complaint is that the universities are not being well funded. While we believe the government has not done enough and can do more, #SSANU strongly believes that the accountability process is too weak and our question has always been that the amounts paid so far, as meagre as they appear, where are they and what have they been utilised for? The minister would do well to look at issues of transparency and accountability in the system, block all loopholes so as to ensure that the little amounts being paid to the system are properly managed, utilised and well accounted for.

The senior staff members also lamented the proliferation of universities, which they described as embarrassing and tasked the minister to urgently address it. “Everyday, we witness the approvals of new universities which have become an embarrassment because issues of standards and quality control are being jettisoned to satisfy the whims of some corrupt persons. The minister would do well to firm up the criteria with which these universities are approved.”

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