Tertiary Academic Establishments And Up to date Societal Realities -By Andrew A. Erakhrumen
In an earlier intervention, we categorically acknowledged that “…..we shall be insincere with ourselves if it isn’t identified, right here, that some Nigerian teachers are a part of the challenges encountered in, and by, this nation and its training sector. We could not have the ability to go far into this side of the dialogue; nevertheless, now we have at all times urged that teachers ought to purge themselves and their constituency so as to forestall state of affairs(s) the place such recommendation as “doctor heal thyself” won’t be mandatory. Consequent upon this assertion, it was subsequently promised that “…..we are going to return to this dialogue, in one other interplay, utilizing this similar pen, to debate this challenge”. This is among the discussions we are going to interact ourselves in, right here and shortly. Nonetheless, we anticipate that the submissions in regards to the foregoing be learn with open and goal thoughts. We yearn for a society peopled predominantly by people with unquestionable ethical rectitude and this may solely be achieved when, as a folks, we determine to repeatedly interact in soul-searching and, as a optimistic product of this, endeavour to do the best issues – at all times – in keeping with the specified excessive societal ethical customary.
Previous to the sooner talked about dialogue, we are going to wish to shortly digress so as to briefly take a look at two completely different editorial feedback by the extremely rated and revered Nigerian day by day newspaper – Punch. The primary is that of 9th February, 2020 whereas the second is that of 16th October, 2020. Excerpts from the editorials shall be introduced for the sake of quick arguments and clarifications. Within the first editorial feedback, the editors vehemently criticised Tutorial Workers Union of Universities (ASUU) for resisting the implementation of Built-in Payroll Personnel Data System (IPPIS) in public universities and in addition adduced this IPPIS imbroglio because the ONLY purpose for the then imminent strike motion (which eventual started on the 23rd March, 2020 after a two weeks warning strike) in public universities. Sadly, as on the time this text is being revealed, ASUU remains to be on a resumed erstwhile suspended whole, complete and indefinite strike to the delight (or how else can we describe it?) of Nigerian authorities. Quoting, amongst others, from the mentioned editorial: “….. As citadels of studying, Nigerian universities needs to be brokers of ethical rebirth, and never be obstacles to innovation and cutting-edge know-how within the battle in opposition to corruption”.
The above-quoted remark gave an impression that ASUU was, (and nonetheless is), resisting IPPIS implementation in public universities as a result of it has one thing to cover. This was very stunning to a few of us which have been following Punch newspaper for a very long time notably in the course of the battle in opposition to army rule and different types of dictatorship. We, nevertheless, concluded then (owing to the primary editorial talked about earlier) that it was both that there was a mix-up someplace on the a part of Punch newspaper or ASUU has not been capable of talk, convincingly, the rationale for its resistance to IPPIS, or each. No matter necessitated the Punch’s editorial of 9th February, 2020, the frustration and consequent resistance – based mostly on experiences – of these in public universities and different tertiary instructional establishments that willingly enrolled on IPPIS ought to have cleared any doubt. The editorial declare that “…..cloaking lecturers’ curiosity within the garb of the general curiosity of the college system to reject IPPIS is deceitful” just isn’t acceptable and that “…..non-academic workers unions within the universities have embraced the [IPPIS] coverage” is now not tenable contemplating present realities. Thus, apologies needs to be rendered, by Punch, to ASUU for that editorial.
Nonetheless, as ardent followers of Punch newspaper, we have been pleasantly shocked (though not surprising of the newspaper) to learn its editorial feedback of 16th October, 2020 the place it was acknowledged, as now we have additionally at all times posited, based mostly on properly knowledgeable argument, in numerous fora that “…. the Buhari regime’s slipshod strategy in direction of the ASUU strike is totally worrying. A responsive and accountable authorities would have seized the window of the pressured vacation provided by the COVID-19 pandemic to finish the strike lengthy prior to now….. In equity to ASUU, it has since developed and provided another cost system, the College Transparency Account[ability Solution – UTAS], which it mentioned would equally meet the transparency and accountability necessities of the IPPIS” The editors, additional went forward to state, rightly, that “….. The disaster plaguing the college system goes past any cost platform. Your entire system is putrefying: libraries, laboratories, hostel lodging and lecture halls are within the worst type of degradation. Electrical energy and water amenities are epileptic in most universities, in some others, non-existent, forcing college students to sometimes spill into the streets in violent demonstrations”.
The editorial feedback, within the Punch newspaper of 16th October, 2020, concluded that “strikes are disruptive and harmful, particularly to college students. The union should rethink its technique. The sustained use of strike is alarmingly routine and clearly not attaining the specified targets”. Whereas this conclusion could cursorily seem like on level, we are going to wish to interrogate it by inserting it side-by-side with our submission in an earlier interplay. There, we acknowledged that “…..based mostly on expertise through the years and what has been documented regarding industrial disputes, notably between ASUU and governments ….. Is it true that the ONLY language comprehensible by authorities when there’s industrial dispute is strike? Why do authorities nonetheless undertake the identical failed and perennially failing ways in addressing industrial disputes in our universities? Are there bureaucrats in authorities whose curiosity is that strikes be activated for his or her egocentric curiosity? Are we really prepared to maneuver with the world with the best way our universities and their human capability are handled? Are we, as a folks, not enjoying out the script written by the imperialists and their international and native brokers who consider that we can’t handle (public) universities and so we don’t want them?
Coming again to the place we began from, we intend to focus on some alleged ills by, and speak to, some stakeholders whose actions/inactions are attracting unhealthy names to the general public tertiary instructional system. That is mandatory as a result of now we have been accused, severally, of defending employees, most particularly lecturers in public universities, with out addressing the alleged unhealthy conducts, already within the public area, by a few of them. It’s regrettable that this class of individuals constitutes an infinitesimally small proportion of the inhabitants of those stakeholders. At this level, we are going to wish to put it on document that the intention right here is to not encourage some halfwits within the society to baselessly harass and insult folks of excessive ethical standing, a lot of that are identified to us, within the instructional system. Having mentioned this, we’re assuring any of the identifiable “huge women and men” who could determine, as some did prior to now, to be mischievous or go roguish in future, through the use of this text as a foundation to solid aspersions on folks of excessive ethical integrity within the system, that this pen is perpetually positioned on refill mode, with ink, to put such folks the place they honestly belong.
So as to not run round in circles, in regards to the perceived and actual ills we referred to earlier, we are going to quote, copiously, from the 2 editorial feedback by Punch newspaper talked about earlier. Excerpts from them learn: “….. A lot of the little funds that go into the [university] system are stolen. The abuse of funds within the universities, because the Unbiased Corrupt Practices and Different Associated Offences Fee [ICPC] and Auditor-Common’s reviews reveal, is changing into mind-boggling ….. Findings by the ICPC, chaired by Bolaji Owasanoye, a professor conversant in the college system, point out that the establishments are neck-deep within the unethical observe of padding their personnel budgets….. The fee indicted the College of Benin Educating Hospital for allegedly padding its finances to the tune of N1.1 billion; Nnamdi Azikiwe College (N915 million); College School Hospital Ibadan (N701 million); College of Ibadan (N558 million); Usmanu Dan Fodio College (N636 million) and College of Jos (N896 million)….. It’s on document that some vice-chancellors and pro-chancellors have dirty their palms in managing funds…..”
Moreover, the Punch newspaper editors additionally talked about within the above-stated editorials that “In 2017, one [vice-chancellor] of a Federal College of Expertise was arraigned for N156.9 million fraud by the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee [EFCC]. He was mentioned to have allegedly collected housing allowances while dwelling within the authorities residential quarters, drew furnishings allowance yearly as a substitute of as soon as in 4 years as permitted by the earnings and wages fee….. In 2018, the Socio-Financial Rights and Accountability Undertaking [SERAP] claimed that there have been allegations of corruption in a number of [Nigerian] federal universities referring to the unfair allocation of grades; contract inflation; truncation of workers’s wage on the payroll; employment of unqualified workers; certificates scandal; examination malpractice; sexual harassment; and issuance of outcomes for expelled college students to graduate….. Far and wide, our campuses are brimming with an explosion in scholar inhabitants, a lot of whom have been enrolled by corrupt college directors into programs the Nationwide Universities Fee didn’t approve”.
Succinctly, essentially the most “celebrated” alleged ills – of Nigerian lecturers, to be particular – within the public area are points bothering round ethical and monetary corruption reminiscent of rape and different sexual harassment (merely however extra just lately derogatorily termed “sex-for-grade”), acceptance of bribe and different sorts of gratification from college students together with their mother and father and guardians and just lately, arising from the ASUU struggles with authorities, allegations of lecturers working and incomes salaries, illegally, in a number of universities and involvement in ghost “employees syndrome”. Whereas we aren’t right here to allow debates – for and in opposition to – these allegations, we should state that there are ongoing authorized proceedings on some circumstances bothering on what has been acknowledged above. Additionally, there have been some convincing proofs, which have necessitated convictions, in legally constituted courts of legislation in Nigeria. Due to this fact, we urge these only a few people alleged to be participating in a few of these ills to desist from them for their very own sake. We should shortly add right here that these ills will not be particular to a specific gender (male or feminine), so intentionally stigmatising a specific intercourse just isn’t truthful even because the ills themselves are significantly condemned wherever and at any time when they happen in these establishments.
Focussing on different stakeholders reminiscent of the scholars, mother and father and guardians, we are going to advise that they imbibe the “see one thing, say one thing” idea. At any time when their rights and privateness are about to be violated, they need to converse out and look for assist from authorities of their establishments. The schools, that a few of us are conversant in in Nigeria, will not be as “rotten” as some folks depict them and need others to consider with out interrogation. A part of the challenges is that these claiming to be victims are generally “companions in crime” to these few folks participating in these alleged ills. As an illustration, there are circumstances of scholars not focussing on their main project – which is finding out to cross prescribed assessments and examinations – in these tertiary educational establishments. This, most instances, lead them into desperation for passing. This desperation exposes them to abuse and generally they provoke the abuse course of. For the umpteenth time, we condemn these ills however need assistance from all stakeholders; particularly the potential/actual victims of sexual harassment, in subduing this and different earlier recognized malaises. They need to bear in mind, in keeping with Chinua Achebe (1930–2013) that “one of many truest exams of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised”.
Consideration has been focussed, to this point, on the difficulty referring to indecent sexual relationships, between educators and their college students, in greater instructional establishments as a result of it’s one sore level whose authenticity could, most instances, be troublesome to show. It’s a ethical in addition to authorized challenge! Nonetheless, we are going to proceed to help efforts at combating these sorts of relationships between non-mutually consenting adults in our tertiary instructional system. Transferring ahead, regarding monetary corruption in public universities, we don’t have to go far find an answer. Right here, once more, we are going to quote from our previous submissions regarding this. Please, learn: “[Federal Government of Nigeria] possess a monopolistic management of all its investigative businesses [Nigeria Police, State Security Service, ICPC, EFCC and others] that may sort out this drawback, if it exists. These allegations needs to be taken away from the realm of speculations to that of proof based mostly actuality. No person ought to encourage corruption – wherever – however authorities ought to clearly act inside the ambit of the legislation in bringing these concerned, if any, to e book. That has at all times been the place of ASUU”.
There are additionally inside mechanisms to cope with a few of these ills “inside the home”. What we are attempting to say right here is that teachers additionally criticise and, if mandatory, chastise themselves and their union leaders, at all times. The general public could not realise this however it’s true even when noise just isn’t made about these efforts. The general public universities, and ASUU as a union, even have some “self-cleansing” mechanisms, and when invoked, has given some optimistic outcomes. Nonetheless, based mostly on expertise, now we have come to understand that some ASUU members, in some public universities, accuse their union leaders of utilizing their positions for self self-aggrandisement. A few of us, years in the past, as “Johnny Simply Come” have been nearly swayed to wholeheartedly consider this incomplete story. Don’t get us unsuitable, we aren’t saying, categorically, that there are not any such ASUU chief(s) that’s/are responsible of this accusation bothering on critical ethical burden. The opposite a part of the story that we are attempting to speak right here is that, with the good thing about hindsight, it was later found that a lot of these members (not all) accusing these ASUU leaders weren’t doing so for altruistic causes, as they might have beloved to be the beneficiaries of the identical “immoral” advantages they earlier condemned, contemplating their actions after they got alternative of being “within the saddle” elsewhere.
It’s noteworthy that greater establishments, largely universities, are to be beacons to the society however sadly, in the present day, lots of the criticised ills in our society had stealthily crept into these citadels of studying. It’s because these ivory towers of academia turned and are nonetheless more and more porous to, and accommodative of, these ills. The explanation for these anomalies is partly due to our priorities as a folks, since tertiary instructional establishments are run via human establishment. As teachers, we should go all of the size to hunt for the reality and propagate it to dispel ignorance. Because of this we attempt to be logical, wise, delicate, and guarantee we derive energy from correct and adequately knowledge-driven convictions. Due to this fact, authorities and different stakeholders mustn’t see sincere teachers as enemies however reliable companions within the quest in direction of attaining success in all side of Nigeria’s improvement. There isn’t any nation on the planet that has been capable of obtain significant improvement with out huge funding in its instructional sector, from main to tertiary degree. Nonetheless, if there’s any such nation we aren’t averse to being knowledgeable.
So as to add briefly, earlier than we conclude this interplay, it will likely be unfairly insensitive if we don’t speak in regards to the numerous peaceable avenue protests – by disenchanted youths – at the moment spreading like wild fireplace, throughout Nigeria’s main cities and cities, which began as protests in opposition to brutality by a infamous arm of the Nigeria Police generally known as Particular Anti-Theft Squad – SARS. These peaceable protests have been first tagged #EndSARS and later #EndSARSNow and #EndSWAT. We have to acknowledge the brave civil protesters (some folks name them “Yahoo-Yahoo” girls and boys) who’ve determined to take their destinies into their palms. From what’s enjoying out, the protesters, with plenty of vitality, seem to have extra optimistic calls for, for themselves and the nation, up their sleeves, past the #EndWHATEVER. We have to encourage these non-violent peaceable protests and anticipate the federal government to shortly pay attention to those energetic protesters in earnest. That is no matter the inconvenience that a few of us needed to cross via after we trekked miles at nighttime to get to our locations. We take into account this as a part of the sacrifice that must be made, by us, if mandatory, for the hunt in direction of a restructured Nigeria all of us hope for.
Nonetheless, we wish these peaceable protesters to be extra organised in stopping the conditions whereby the identical group of Nigerians they’re protesting for ultimately turn out to be unnecessarily inconvenienced and disenfranchised. As an illustration, the whole blockage of main roads is a recipe for premature demise in well being circumstances that require emergency medical consideration. We may even wish to advise them to be very cautious and watchful to ensure that miscreants and hoodlums to not infiltrate their midst, in order that these scoundrels don’t hijack and make nonsense of the protests. Criminals could even be despatched on evil mission(s) that may help authorities’s intention at discrediting the peaceable protests and protesters. The peaceable protesters ought to study classes from the unhealthy experiences in Benin Metropolis and a few components of Lagos State, Nigeria, the place some miscreants and hoodlums took benefit of the protests to commit heinous acts in opposition to some publicly, and privately, owned amenities. We strongly condemn these acts and anticipate the authorities to research and produce these behind the dastardly acts to e book. If that is finished, it won’t solely reassure law-abiding residents however may even function a deterrent to different potential roguish characters with such malicious intent.
As traditional, as a substitute of Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, the “chief conciliator of business disputes within the nation” to focus on learn how to carry the present industrial motion by ASUU to a logical suspension, he was capable of create time to interact in his common pastime of careless “misfiring” together with his mouth (what we already termed “diarrhoea of the mouth”). He was quoted, in newspapers, to have purportedly mentioned that “college students who needs to be within the school rooms have been “recruited” to affix the continued #EndSARS protests. Allow us to concede that the above-quoted remark of the minister is appropriate, we need to ask: What has the federal government been doing in regards to the ASUU strike since 23rd March, 2020? Moreover, he must be advised, as a result of they depart in denial, that even when these college students have been on campus they might have nonetheless joined the protests. Members of ASUU didn’t simply get up in the future and determined to go on strike. There are legitimate causes and authorities is conscious of them. It’s simply that the ruling elite have determined that public college system ought to collapse like the general public main and secondary faculties.
Regrettably, the identical folks, of their seventies and eighties, that introduced this nation to this low ebb, are nonetheless those in control of the nation in the present day, behaving as if we’re nonetheless within the Seventies, when the world is already pondering of the twenty-second century. The options they’re proffering to the challenges encountered by this nation are nonetheless the identical antiquated ones that has by no means labored. These governance approaches by, and behavior of, folks in Nigerian authorities since “independence” and the present poor financial fortunes of the residents within the nation together with lack of infrastructural wherewithal to facilitate empowerment of those youths (other than their utilization as thugs earlier than and through elections) are literally the gasoline “powering” these protests. The ages of those younger energetic peaceable protesters primarily fall between 20 and 25 years outdated. These are Nigerian residents born shortly earlier than, and through, this democratic dispensation. Lots of them have acquired digital and different helpful expertise however they haven’t been given the deserved alternative by the Nigerian state. Intimidating these peaceable protesters, utilizing the army, won’t work in the long term. If the folks in authorities have no idea this by now, we are going to like them to know, very swiftly.
Andrew A. Erakhrumen, PhD
Division of Forest Assets and Wildlife Administration,
College of Benin, Benin Metropolis, Nigeria
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