Nigeria loses N1.2trn to ASUU strikes
… as university teachers spend four years at home on strikes
Nigeria may have lost an estimated N1.2 trillion to strikes embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) since 1999 when the country embraced democracy, BusinessDay has learnt.
The amount, according to data seen by BusinessDay, indicates that the money was spent on university teachers in the nation’s public universities who went on strikes 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 show.
An analyst told BusinessDay that this development led to the production of half-baked graduates who could not apply the knowledge acquired in the universities nor could be employed.
A human resources analyst told BusinessDay at the weekend that most Nigerian universities’ graduates are unemployable because they are poorly trained and lacked the required minimum knowledge expected of their level of learning.
The trend, according to the analyst, also led to many parents sending their wards to foreign universities at very high costs, and also causing a drain to the nation’s foreign reserves.
The university lecturers who are currently on strike since March 9, had gone on strike every year in the past 21 years with the exception of 2014 and 2015, the two years the teachers did not go on strike, the data show.
Education experts told BusinessDay in Abuja that the four cumulative years could have been used to produce four-year circle graduates.
There are 168 universities in Nigeria; the Federal Government has 43, states have 47 while the remaining 78 are privately owned by individuals and faith-based institutions.
Available data indicated that the teachers have been on strike this year for 204 days, which is over seven months (March 9 till date).
The ongoing strike started on March 9, with a two-week warning. The indefinite strike, which commenced on March 29, according to sources at the National Universities Commission (NUC) is the longest in the history of ASUU strikes.
The sources at the NUC told BusinessDay that the over N1.2 trillion lost by the Federal and state governments to the teachers’ strikes represented total emoluments paid to them during the period of the strikes, as the two tiers of government never invoked the provisions of the extant Act on “No work, No pay”.
The amount covered the payment of staff in 43 Federal and 47 state universities, where the academics are ASUU members.
The academic staff of the 78 privately owned universities do not join ASUU strike as the terms of their employment do not allow them membership of ASUU, and their participation in the universities’ teachers’ strikes.
NUC’s 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. This figure excludes teachers at the Rivers State University, University of Ilorin, University of Jos and Yobe State University. No reason was adduced for the exclusion by the NUC in the publication.
An analyst at the NUC told BusinessDay that the annual payment of N308.5billion as an average and multiplied by about four years of strikes by the university teachers amounted to an estimated loss of N1.2 trillion by the two tiers of government.
Available data from the NUC and office of the Accountant General of the Federation seen by BusinessDay indicated that the lowest paid university lecturer earns N1, 979,640 per annum, while a senior lecturer takes home after deductions about N3, 091,505.
A Reader or associate professor and a full professor earn a minimum of N3,768,221 and N5,004,750 per annum, respectively. As at 2017, the federal and state universities had a total of 51,000 teachers in their employ but sources at the NUC told BusinessDay that the current number could be as high 61,000 teachers.
Ben Bem Goong, head of media, Federal Ministry of Education and spokesman of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, told BusinessDay that he is not authorized to speak on the development.
But a top official of the ministry told BusinessDay that the figures speak for themselves, adding that the ministry’s interest is the sanctity of the nation’s university system and their products. “We can’t join issues with ASUU but we will continue to engage them,” he said.