Tertiary institutions’ unions including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics have given suggestions on how to solve the mirage of problems in the education sector to the new Minister for Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman.
Without a doubt, quite a number of issues have been on the front burner of ASUU, SSANU, and ASUP agitations in the last few years.
Some are renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU/SSANU 2009 agreement, funding for the revitalisation of public universities to mention a few.
Mamman who took his oath of office on Monday, alongside other appointees was sworn in as the Minister of Education by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.
Before his appointment, he was the Vice-Chancellor of Baze University, Abuja, a private tertiary institution founded in 2011 by Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, and served as the Director General of the Nigerian Law School from 2005-2013.
With his rich profile and experience in the sector, Mamman is believed to be equipped with all it takes to make an impact in the nation’s education sector.
However, the Vice-President, SSANU, Dr Abdussobor Salaam, in an interview with The PUNCH, insisted that the government needed to understand the purpose and objective of education before making an attempt to solve the lingering problems.
He said, “The expectation of the SSANU is that since an experienced hand in the education sector has been made Minister of Education, there should be a turnaround in the sector. With the appointment of Prof. Mamman, we expect that he fully understands the challenges and problems of education in Nigeria and swings into action into resolving them. The challenges in this sense should not be limited to industrial issues alone but must begin by giving a focus and objective to the education system. This is because the biggest challenge to the education system is that the government has not clearly understood the purpose and objective of education for the nation. If the purpose and objectives of education had been understood by government and its officials, most of the problems besetting the system would have been resolved, especially that of neglect and poor funding.”
He added that SSANU expected Mamman to bring to bear his expertise as an educationist, administrator, and, more significantly, a lawyer and senior advocate, to resolve the issues surrounding the abuse of the University system by the Government.
“Especially in areas such as the introduction of IPPIS as the mode of salary payment for university staff, the usurpation of the powers of Governing Councils by the office of the Head of Service, the implementation of previous agreements and Memoranda signed with the Government, the renegotiation of the SSANU/FGN 2009 agreements among others.
Also speaking, ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said, “All the issues of funding university appropriation of salaries are issues the minieter should look into. He should meet with us and resolve them once and for all in the interest of our children. We want the government to sign our agreements and if there are issues, they should call us to negotiate. We seek payment of our seven and half month’s unpaid salary, Nigerians should tell them to pay us we covered the lost ground we have done the work they said we didn’t do. We have done the work they should pay.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, Chairman, ASUU UNILAG, Prof. Kayode Adebayo, added that “ASUU cannot expect less than a good performance that would address the ugly situations in the public education system in the nation generally and most especially in the University system.”
ASUP national president, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, explained that at the tertiary level, issues bordering on sustainable funding, acceptable wage structure for staff, infrastructure deficit, violations of laws, and extant regulations were all issues of urgent concern.
He said, “For the polytechnic system, it is important that he takes verifiable steps to address the issue of certification by reviewing the current status of HND and its possible replacement with a Bachelor of Technology certification (for qualified Polytechnics) while retaining the OND certification for skills and artisanal certification in the sector. This will put the HND/degree dichotomy issue to rest.
“Prudent management of scarce resources, appropriate and deserving wage structures, improvement in funding, respect for laws, statutes, and regulations are the path to restoration of the education sector to its lost glory.”