The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has made a strong appeal to the Federal Government to exempt universities from the directive to remit 40% of their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This plea was articulated by ASUU’s National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, following the National Executive Council meeting at Kaduna State University.
ASUU’s stance is that universities are not revenue-generating entities. The fees paid by students are meant to facilitate their education, not to be channelled into government coffers. The union fears that this directive will further impoverish the university system, already strained under financial pressures.
The meeting, held from November 11 to 12, 2023, also highlighted the refusal of the Accountant General’s office to pay promotion arrears to ASUU members since 2018. This, according to ASUU, is another deliberate attempt to financially weaken its members.
Additionally, ASUU expressed concern over the ongoing victimisation of its members in several universities, including the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, and Lagos State University, Ojo. The union called for the respect of their members’ fundamental human rights to dignity, association, and expression.
ASUU also criticised the National Universities Commission for imposing the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards on Nigerian universities, despite its documented shortcomings and rejection by university Senates and academic/professional associations.
The union reiterated its position against the wrongful dissolution of Governing Councils of universities and condemned the government’s failure to honour agreements, particularly the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.
The NEC meeting coincided with this year’s Heroes Day, marked by a special lecture and the award of scholarships to indigent but brilliant students in all public universities in Nigeria.
As the editorial team, we view ASUU’s resistance to the 40% IGR deduction as a significant stand against policies that could further impoverish the Nigerian university system. Universities, fundamentally educational institutions, should not be treated as revenue-generating entities. This policy, if implemented, could lead to increased tuition fees, making education less accessible to many Nigerians.
The government must recognise the unique role of universities in society. They are not just educational institutions but also cradles of innovation, research, and societal development. Imposing financial burdens on these institutions could stifle their growth and impact the quality of education.
We urge the government to engage in meaningful dialogue with ASUU and reconsider its stance on the IGR deduction. It’s also crucial to address the longstanding issues of unpaid arrears and the victimisation of ASUU members. These issues, if left unresolved, could lead to further strikes and disruptions in the academic calendar, adversely affecting students’ futures.
The government and ASUU need to find a middle ground that ensures the financial sustainability of universities while not compromising on the quality of education and research. This is not just about the universities but about the future of Nigeria and its young minds.
Did You Know?
- ASUU’s Formation: ASUU was established in 1978, evolving from the Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965.
- Major Strikes: ASUU has embarked on several strikes, with one of the longest lasting nine months in 2020, significantly disrupting academic activities.
- IGR in Nigerian Universities: Many Nigerian universities generate IGR through services like consultancy, partnerships, and sometimes, tuition fees.
- Educational Funding in Nigeria: Nigeria allocates a relatively small percentage of its national budget to education, often leading to underfunding of universities.
- Global Education Funding: Comparatively, countries like Norway and Sweden invest heavily in education, often resulting in high-quality university systems.