The Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and several other such unions in Nigerian universities urgently need to be restrained to achieve effective goverance systems in the universities.
Prof. Nahzeem Olufemi Mimiko, former Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University (AAU), Akungba, Ondo State, said this on Monday while delivering a keynote address at a seminar organised by Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP).
The theme of the seminar held at the Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, was “Getting our Universities Back on Track: Conversation on Higer Education in Nigeria”. Chairman and moderator of the discourse was Prof. Toyin Falola, a professor of history from the University of Texas, United States of America
The erudite scholar, basing his speech on his new book, Getting our Universities Back on Track,
stressed that one of the problems militating against universities’ governance was the activities of the unions and pressure groups like ASUU, NASU, Student Unions and a host of others.
He said that “to achieve effective university governance, there is need to rein in the unions or our universities won’t be able to compete globally. Unions want to be consulted in everything including management of funds and even apointments.
“To me, it constitutes what can be described as a handshake above the elbow when unions, during protests, lock up the gates of the institutions, disrupt movement, cut off water and electricity. Unions should be organised on how to add value not just to create confrontations. I am not saying we don’t need the unions but there is need for greater responsibility in the way and manner unions run. We must rein in the unions when they commit infractions”
“For example, I do not support collective bargaining”
The professor advocated the enactment of legislation to curb “irresponsible” strike actions and their effects but stressed there is need for “protection be created for those who choose not to take part in the strikes so that the democratic principles upon which the unions were founded in the first place are not eroded”.
According to the former university boss, “paucity of funds does not tell the whole story of the problems facing our universities. Governance is more important. A university that has all the funds it needs but lacks professionalism and efficiency in governance, will eventually shipwreck.
“The quality of leadership in Nigerian universities is a very important conversation that we must continue to have”
Members of ASUU and other unions affected by Prof. Mimiko’s speech, were not represented at the discourse which was chaired and moderated Prof. Toyin Falola, a Professor of History.
Speaking earlier, Dr. Wale Babalakin had expressed dissapointment that ASUU and other staff unions were not invited to the seminar
Dr. Tunji Olaopa, Executive Vice Chairman of ISGPP, explained that indeed, an invitation was extended to ASUU but other modalities and protocols for getting the union on board could not be met before it kicked off.
He promised that the next education based discourse the ISGPP would be having, will focus a lot on ASUU and other unions and critical stakeholders in the universities.
Dr. Babalakin challenged Vice Chancellors to take a collective position on poor funding in universities
His words: “It doesn’t seem as if there is a sincere effort to revive higher education system in the country. I haven’t even seen the Vice Chancellors collectively tell government that enough is enough in terms of poor funding.
I don’t think there is any well funded university in Nigeria, including the private universities. For example, in University of Maiduguri where I am Chancellor, there is a situation where we get N7bn for staff salaries, N300m for capital development and then N300m for research. Such an arrangemnt doesnt qualify an institution to be called a teaching institution”