By Chimezie Godfrey
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Federal Universities, CVC, has urged all parties to adopt a give-and-take option in the negotiations between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This was made known in a statement signed by the Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Federal Universities, and Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Sulayman A. Abdulkareem, which contains resolutions reached at the end of an emergency meeting of the CVC on Tuesday, summoned to review the position of ASUU and the Federal Government.
Recall that following an invitation extended to Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Federal Universities by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission for a meeting with the Minister of Education on Tuesday 6th September, 2022, an emergency meeting of CVC was summoned to review the position of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) via-à-vis that of the Federal Government on the major issues in contention with the aim of finding amicable ways of bringing the protracted strike to an end.
Prof. Abdulkareem revealed that the CVC having made recommendations on the major issues in contention between ASUU and the FG, also called for concessions and sacrifices on both sides for the sake of University education in Nigeria.
He stated,”CVC sympathizes with our students, parents and other stakeholders over the prolonged strike which is the second longest in our history. By 2023, it will be 50 years since academics first went on strike in Nigeria. It is evident that by the time we resolve this dispute, we will need to return to the table to re-think the philosophy of University education in Nigeria, its funding and governance structure and the role each strategic stakeholder or partner will play.
“The public universities have in the past five months lost a substantial number of Nigerian academics who have resigned from their appointments and are taking on jobs outside academia or seeking more financially rewarding opportunities in other climes. Furthermore, the embargo on employment and other bureaucratic bottlenecks which universities are made to pass through in their process of recruitment to replenish existing vacancies is not helping the already bad staffing situation.
“As Chief Executives of our various institutions, we can only advice and caution our principals against a forceful reopening of universities as this would be most counter-productive. First, it must be noted that no Federal University was formally shut down. Second, the power to open or shut down a university is vested only in the Senate of each university. Third any attempt to keep students on campus without their being fully engaged in academic and other activities may have disastrous consequences.
“We also note that the six months of industrial action has triggered unintended consequences such as prolonging the academic session, exhausted financial reserves, and creating two and in some cases, three backlogs of admission exercises. Many special equipment especially in our laboratories will need to be re-calibrated, physical facilities need to be renovated and electricity and water bills are outstanding. Given that many of us have not received their overheads, Government will need to support the universities with special grants for re-opening.
“We urge all parties to adopt a give-and-take option in the negotiations and employ decorum and decency in the language of communication. All hands must be on deck as we seek to make the required sacrifices for the sake of University education in Nigeria.”