The Sustainable Peace Team, set up by the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has called for an executive action by the Federal Government to propose to the National Assembly its decision on improved funding to address impasse.
The former Secretary General, CVCNU, Prof. Michael Faborode, made the call in an advisory paper tagged: ‘ Exploring Alternative Pathways to Amicably Resolving Impasse” made available to the news Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.
Faborode said that once the national assembly receives the necessary communication from government, is should enact legislation to ensure succeeding government’s compliance with the undertaking.
He also suggested that government, as well as ASUU, should consider and accept ‘ Blended Financing options as a medium-term solution to sustainable funding of public universities.
” As a way of sourcing and mobilising funds internally to take care of some of the current pressing needs, we propose to government to suspend the 25 per cent remittance of all user charges collected by the universities.
” This will go a long way in helping to pool funds internally to meet some of the outstanding obligations and further boost internal fund generation efforts in universities.
” For the 35% professoriate salary increase offer that was rejected by ASUU, we suggest that a middle ground will be for government to accept to make the offer, net of taxes.
” This will provide a sort of tax break that will improve the current comparatively low take-home pay of Nigerian academics.
This can be for a period to be mutually determined, taking cognisance of the deleterious galloping rate of brain drain, that must be halted,” he said.
According to Faborode, this will represent a significant shift by ASUU as it falls far short of what was dedicatedly and painstakingly negotiated.
He said that the team also propose an agreed percentage increase in the quantum of user charges to help bridge funding gaps which he said could be used to fund staff (earned) allowances as currently being done by some state universities.
” We are aware that the Audit Report commissioned by the federal government to review the payment of earned allowances, established that the allowances had no clear-cut basis of disbursement.
” And in many cases, the administrative heads played a secondary role in its disbursement.
” We say time and again that given the unique system that operates in universities, the time lost to a strike can, to an extent, be recovered through extra work and sacrifices (such as utilisation of breaks, periods outside official hours and leaves to make up) on the part of the staff.
He, therefore, called on the government on the needs to allow some creative funding options, while appealing to the government to reconsider its position on this matter.
Faborode said that the team recognised that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) had become, by default, a major financier of higher education.
He, however, said that the current template for funds allocation and distribution was long overdue for review.
He advised that TETFund, NUC, , ASUU and the ministry of education to convene a policy meeting to consider a new template that would meet the current demands of beneficiary institutions and block fund leakages.
” We also agree with the suggestion that government should increase the current funding source to at least 3% of profit after tax of all companies doing business in Nigeria.
” As we noted in our previous communication, ultimately, the government must align itself politically and legally with the laws establishing its universities.
The autonomy of public universities cannot be by half measures.
“The University is a universal entity and we cannot localise ours out of the global community of institutions of higher learning and expect them to compete favourably with their global peers,” he said.
He added that having established and appointed the Governing Councils, with people of high integrity and proven records of service, they should be allowed to administer the universities as prescribed by the law and in tune with their individual contexts.
According to him, for our universities to transform to the highly desired world class status, they require favourable governance tenets that encourage strategic vision, innovation, and flexibility.
He said this would enable them to make critical transformative decisions and manage resources without being encumbered by bureaucracy.
He, therefore, called on the government to speedily facilitate the reopening of the universities now that campaigns were about to start as this would help insulate the bulk of the students from overt politicisation of their plight.
He, however, commended the Committee of Pro- Chancellors (CPC), Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) and ASUU for agreeing to its earlier suggestion that a meeting of Pro-Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors and ASUU should be convened.
“We are informed that the meeting will hold on Wednesday, Sept.14. We plead that the meeting should consider the fate of the Nigerian university system and for the ASUU leadership to be more pragmatic and reflective of history.
‘We earlier noted that 2023 would represent 50 years of strikes by the academic staff.
There is no gainsaying that members of the university community at their various levels have made huge personal sacrifices for the system.
“We will continue to do so and hope that external actors like government, its agencies and the national assembly, as well as stakeholders will understand and appreciate that the insistence on adequate funding to create better teaching, learning and research environments is not personal, nor trivial but fundamental to the nation’s progress,” he said.
The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has set up a sustainable peace team to resolve the lingering impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The former Secretary General of CVCNU, Prof. Michael Faborode, and the Co-coordinator of the team, confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday, through ‘The Sustainable Peace Team Working Paper’.
He said that the desire of the team was not to allow the current deadlock in the ASUU strike negotiations to take hold, as the toll of the strike on all stakeholders and the nation had been colossal.
According to him, to arrive at the final list, no serving vice chancellor or pro-chancellor is included and membership was based on record of service as recorded by the CVCNU.
He said that the team comprised of Prof. Jibril Aminu, former Vice Chancellor, University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID); Emeritus Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, former Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI); Prof. Ekanem Braide, President, Academy of Science; and Dr Nkechi Nwagogu, former Pro-Chancellor, University of Calabar (UNICAL).
Other members of the team are Prof. Joe Ahaneku, former Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK); Prof. Fatima Mukhtar, former Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Dutse; and Prof. Akpan Ekpo, former Vice Chancellor of University of Uyo (UNIUYO).
Also in the team are Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), and Prof. Michael Faborode, former Secretary General, CVCNU and former Vice Chancellor, OAU.
“We should not fold our hands and watch our ‘house’ collapse on us as elders.
So, we should speak or act now.
“We do not have any other industry other than the university system.
“Whatever can be done to bring all the actors to reason and broker peace using the Prof. Nimi Briggs committee recommendations as the fulcrum, will be worth the effort.
“A lot had been done already and such patriotic efforts should not be wasted nor despised,” he said.
Faborode said that the “Peace Team of Elders” would operate under the auspices of the .
According to him, both the Federal Government and ASUU are being reached to accept the intervention of the independent team of elders.
“The Team will liaise with the Prof. Nimi Briggs committee to understand the basis of the elements of their proposals, and check with both the federal government and ASUU to identify the areas of concern and objection.
“Afterwards the team will brainstorm on how to mitigate the thorny areas and work with all the parties to bring the imbroglio to an amicable end in the interest of all concerned and the nation.
“The meetings and consultations will be mainly online by Zoom and perhaps finally face-to-face to safe costs once we make progress.
This is however subject to review as we proceed,” he explained.
Faborode said that the team had itemised some preliminary considerations that could shape parties understanding and way forward.
He said that this was because the deadlock in the crisis seemed to be getting more disturbing with the federal government maintaining a strong stance of “no-work, no-pay” and ordering ASUU to go back to work.
He said this had also made ASUU to firmly prolong the strike to become indefinite as both sides were unwilling to proceed with further negotiation or discussions.
“How do we engage with the Nimi Briggs committee?
I am personally in touch with the chairman, and he feels the outstanding issues are not insurmountable.
“These include federal government raising its offer of salary increase from 23% to may be 50% that will ensure a Professor receives up to N800,000 monthly as opposed to the negotiated N1.2 million.
“Also, the review of the decision on salaries during strike to a mid-position, not 0% nor 100% as ASUU wants.
How can we further this admonition to both sides?
“Fundamentally, the following facts should be noted: the subsisting condition of Nigerian higher education is unacceptable and inconsistent with the economic development roles envisaged for them.
“Things have been allowed to deteriorate for too long, This, must be halted by all as we embark on an integrated revitalisation agenda in the education sector, in the interest of our economic development,” Faborode said.
He, therefore, called on the National Assembly to play its role in providing a sustainable solution of raising for the effective running of the universities.
Professor Emeritus Peter Okebukola, former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), says that good teaching practices are a panacea for achieving academic excellence at universities across the country.
Okebukola made the statement Thursday at Lagos State University's (LASU) senior faculty workshop on renewing the academic culture to achieve academic excellence at the institution.
He encouraged all LASU academic staff to adopt the provisions of effective teaching, partnership, and best practices, among others.
“LASU faculty should collaborate internally and externally with each other to advance research at the institution because LASU has the best faculty in the Nigerian university system.
“University education is different from secondary education. According to the survey, good practice in university teaching is to review the previous lesson, present the current one, and summarize the lesson.
“Others include: relating the topic to the sociocultural context, punctuality in class, self-assessment lesson, dressing well, using technology to support teaching, and good communication skills,” he said.
According to Okebukola, there are some antagonistic forces to good quality teaching that include indolent students and under-resourced classrooms.
"Others are; poor welfare scheme and quite long distances to travel from home to university.
“Some bad practices in university teaching are spending more than half the time in discussions unrelated to the lesson, bullying students, and being late or not coming to class.
“Failure to cover course syllabus, poor dress for class, misuse of technology and variety of teaching approaches and poor feedback to students,” he said.
Prof. Michael Faborode, former Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, also urged universities to exploit technology to the limit to transform their institutions, teaching methods, learning and governance.
“ICTs are the fulcrum on which the various elements of the plan for revitalization rest, so universities must be ready to implement effective teaching.
“By 2023, academics at Nigerian universities should be in the top three for productivity as measured by national and global productivity standards in solving socio-economic challenges.
“Every nation needs its university sectors to apply and produce well-qualified workers across the skill spectrum to be competitive in the global economy.
“Therefore, universities must be well funded and receive the necessary recognition and, in return, respond to the crucial need that determines their local relevance and social value,” he said.