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Home > COVER > FG, States Lose N1.2 trillion to 19 ASUU Strikes

FG, States Lose N1.2 trillion to 19 ASUU Strikes

By John Onah, Abuja

The Federal and state Governments, proprietors of public universities in the country, may have lost a whooping N1.

2 trillion to the incessant strikes embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) since the nation’s return to democracy in 1999, investigation by DAILY ASSET has revealed.

The amount, according to data compiled from various sources in the course of the month-long investigation, represents the salaries paid to staff in the university system for a cumulative period of about four years during which ASUU went on strikes in the last two decades.

ASUU, which is currently on strike since March 9, had gone on strike in each year  in the last 21 years with rare exception of 2014 and 2015, when the university lecturers did not go on strike, the data showed.

The academic staff in all of the nation’s public universities went on a strike for a total of 19 times with a cumulative period of about 1, 437 days, a few days short of four cumulative years, the data showed.

An analysis of the timelines of strikes by Universities in Nigeria showed that the on-going strike, which started on March 9, with a two-week warning and the indefinite strike, which commenced on March 29 is the longest in the history of ASUU strikes as it has lasted  for about 200 days as at September 30 and still counting.

Before then, the strike in 2003, which snowballed into 2004 was the longest as it lasted 180 days, the analysis showed.

It was also observed that some of the  strikes dovetailed into a new year like in 2003, which ended in 2004 and 2011, which also ended in 2012.

DAILY ASSET investigation showed that the over N1.2 trillion lost by the Federal and state governments represented total emoluments paid to the staff during the period the strikes lasted, obviously for work not done, as the Federal Government never invoked the provisions of the extant  labour Act, which has provisions for  “No work, No pay”.

 The amount covered the payment of staff in  43 Federal and 47 state universities, where the workers are unionized.

However, the staff of the nation’s 78 private universities are mostly not unionized and were not part of the numerous ASUU strikes, investigation showed.

The latest available data on payment of salaries in Nigerian Universities provided by the National Universities Commission(NUC)Statistical Digest 2018 released in April 2019, showed that the Federal and state Governments committed a total of  N308.5bilion(N308, 526,701, 478.39) to payment of salaries.

The figure did not  include Rivers State University, University of Ilorin, University of Jos and Yobe State university, which for undisclosed reasons were not covered in the

Statistical computation released by NUC.

The amount lost to the strikes was arrived at after DAILY ASSET in-house Statisticians used the  annual payment of N308.5bn as an average and multiplied by about four years of strikes by the university lecturers.

Data obtained from NUC and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed that the least paid university lecturer earns N1,979,640 per annum, while a Senior Lecturer earns about N3,091,505.

 Similarly, a Reader or Associate Professor earns at least N3,768,221 per annum while a full Professor earns N5,004,750 per annum.

It was found out that the Federal and state universities had a total of about 51,000 academic staff in 2017 but the figure may have risen to at least 61,000 in 2020 even though NUC statistical data is yet to formally report on the number of staff in the universities in the years after 2017.

President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi,  has however, justified the numerous strikes by university lecturers as he said the strike action has helped the educational sector.

 “You need to look so far over years what the strike has achieved for the Nigerian education sector and compare it to what is happening in other sub-sectors of the educational system. If not for ASUU, the public universities, in fact, public tertiary education would have collapsed totally beyond recovery.

“So you can best appreciate that when you compare and contrast what is happening as a result of ASUU struggle and what is not happening as a result of lack of struggle at the level of primary and secondary education of the country”, he told an online news platform, The Cable CamPulse.

The President said Nigerians should appreciate the lecturers for the strikes.

“They are not concerned with the plight of the poor. All you see now is how to fit their children into positions of advantage to the disadvantage of the children of the poor,” he said.

“The best way to do it is to ensure that their children receive the best of education while the children of the poor are subjected to substandard and low-quality education.

“NUT cannot do what ASUU is doing now because the government will seize their salary, they have underpaid them, they have not given them the right to ventilate their anger. And because of that, they have become disillusioned in places where they are working.

“You will even see primary school teachers who cannot see take their own children to the school they are teaching. I’m saying these just to illustrate the fact that public primary and public secondary education system have been collapsed. If not for ASUU the same would have happened.

“So Nigerians should actually be thanking ASUU, for the wake-up calls we always give the Nigerian government.

“And let me tell you as far back as 1992, each time we went for an action, we refer government to inject funds so that public universities will not go on the same place with primary and secondary schools. In 1992, it’s as a result of ASUU struggle that government introduced TETFUND.

“TETFUND today is the only source of providing infrastructural amenities in Nigerian Universities. So people who are ignorant are the ones saying we are destroying calendar,” he told The Cable CamPulse.

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Timeline of  Strikes by ASUU since 1999:

1999 – 150 days

2001 – 90 days

2002 – 14 days.

2003 – 180 days (ended in 2004)

2005 -3 days

2006- 7 days

2007 – 90 days

2008 -7 days

2009- 120 days

2010- 157 days

2011—90 days(started in December and ended in 2012)

2013- 157

2014- None

2015-None

2016- 7 days

2017- 35 days

2018- 60 days  

2019-90 days

2020-180 days and counting as at Sept 4.

1,437=3.9YEARS

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