Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government is planning to review the university autonomy laws.
Osinbajo who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha stated this on Monday, December 5, 2022, at an event organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja to mark the 60th anniversary of the NUC and launch of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academics Standards (CIMAS).
Recall that on Friday, October 16, 2022, ASUU suspended its eight-month-old strike which had shut down public universities in the country to demand full implementation of agreements it had entered into with the Federal Government a few years ago.
While the ASUU strike lasted, the federal government had insisted on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy when the university teachers were away from their duty posts.
However, things took a new turn on Thursday, November 3, 2022, when it was gathered that the government only paid half-month salaries to the university teachers.’
But the Minister of Education later said the position of the Federal Government was that the lecturers “would not be paid for work not done.”
Despite protests and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the executive arm of government has insisted it would not shift grounds on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy.
The decision of the government to withhold the salaries of lecturers had led to a series of protests across the country with some branches of the union calling for the sack of the minister of education, Adamu Adamu and the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige.
Speaking at the event, the vice president stated that one of the major issues bedevilling university education in Nigeria was the incessant strike actions by various unions in public universities.
“The most recent strike actions by the university-based unions have necessitated a revisit on the issues and scope of university autonomy by government,” he said.
“This will lead to a review of the university autonomy laws to appropriately address funding, including staff remuneration, institutional governance, and administration, as well as issues relating to internally generated revenue.”
According to him, the university system has cumulatively lost over 50 months from 1999 to date as a result of strike actions by ASUU.
“I doubt if there is any country that has lost such amount of time to strikes in its university system.
“From the first strike in 1978 to date, all the issues have remained the same. The agitations have been primarily on funding, university autonomy, and remunerations.
“I need to stress here that government alone cannot fund education in the country. It is therefore imperative that a sustainable model of funding university education must be developed,” he said.
Osinbajo applauded what it described as the foresight of the NUC in unbundling such disciplines as Agriculture, as well as the emergence of three new disciplines, namely Allied Health Sciences, Architecture and Communication, and Media Studies.
The launch of CIMAS, he said, would usher in a new era in the delivery of quality and relevant content.
For the greater part of 2022, the country’s public universities have been crippled by industrial action over the demands of their academic workers, including the non-payment of university revitalisation funds amounting to about N1.1 trillion.