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Restructuring, Autonomy Key to Ending Incessant Lecturers’ Strikes, Says Former Nigerian Minister

A former Nigerian Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran has said the present system of education in the country is unsustainable as Nigeria will continue to witness situations where the entire system is tied up due to the over-centralization of the system.

“Until we have a situation whereby if something goes wrong at the University of Calabar or the University of Ilorin it does not affect what is going on in Maiduguri, we will not be able to get anywhere.

“We should have a system, that’s a part of those who are talking about restructuring, what it means, in other words, it should be possible for instance to get certain things ongoing in different states without necessarily affecting what’s going on in other states.

“In a situation whereby you have the education of an entire country tied up because of the unionization, the type of way we’ve been working, organizing, over-centralizing everything, we are not going to get many results,” said Adeniran when he appeared on ARISE News.While lecturers in Nigerian universities have been on strike for over eight months, last Friday’s meeting between the lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government’s delegation, saw the government agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June.

The government also said it would make N35 billion available for the Earned Academic Allowances for all trade unions in the university system, even though ASUU said it only negotiated that for its members. Also, the government promised to release N25 billion as a revitalization fund, when the union initially demanded N220 billion which was later reduced to N110 billion.

Prof. Adeniran is however of the view that granting autonomy to Nigerian Universities will save the federal government from being encircled by the several unions in the country’s tertiary institutions.

He said, “what will it cost the government to move and say look, with what we’ve been doing all over, let us move a step forward, and then this autonomy, we’ve been doing so much, the university system should go ahead, this is the envelope that we have, go and sort the remaining funding.

“All along what the government has been doing is getting itself more or less encircled and it has been possible for ASUU because of the system that we operate to take the government, the Nigerian people, our children, our future to ransom, they are being held ransom by insisting on certain things.”

By Abel Ejikeme

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