The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has warned the Nigerian government against any move to forcefully re-open universities amid the ongoing industrial action embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
According to the chairman of CVCNU, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, the action if taken by the government would be counter-productive.
The group also supported the call for salary adjustment of university lecturers, saying chief lecturers in polytechnics and colleges of education now earn more than professors in universities.
“The public universities have in the past five months lost a substantial number of Nigerian academics who have resigned from their appointments and are taking on jobs outside academia or seeking more financially rewarding opportunities in other climes.
“Furthermore, the embargo on employment and other bureaucratic bottlenecks which universities are made to pass through in their process of recruitment to replenish existing vacancies is not helping the already bad staffing situation,” the group said after a meeting with the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
“As Chief Executives of our various institutions, we can only advise and caution our principals against a forceful reopening of universities as this would be most counter-productive. First, it must be noted that no Federal University was formally shut down.
“Second, the power to open or shut down a university is vested only in the Senate of each university.
“Third any attempt to keep students on campus without their being fully engaged in academic and other activities may have disastrous consequences.
“We also note that the six months of industrial action has triggered unintended consequences such as prolonging the academic session, exhausted financial reserves, and creating two and in some cases, three backlogs of admission exercises. Many special equipment especially in our laboratories will need to be re-calibrated, physical facilities need to be renovated and electricity and water bills are outstanding. Given that many of us have not received their overheads, Government will need to support the universities with special grants for re-opening.
“We urge all parties to adopt a give-and-take option in the negotiations and employ decorum and decency in the language of communication. All hands must be on deck as we seek to make the required sacrifices for the sake of university education in Nigeria.
“The position of Government on this item will create more damage to the system because the students would bear the brunt of ASUU’s response. Universities because of the peculiar nature of their operations must cover the scheme of work as provided by the curriculum.
“CVC appeals to the Federal Government to re-consider its stand and pay the withheld salaries on compassionate ground, and especially in the interest of Nigerian students. Government’s acceptance of this appeal would no doubt facilitate a quick resolution of the impasse.
“CVC supports the call for salary adjustment especially in the present dispensation where the templates used by the National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission and the IPPIS have depleted the salaries of academics and Vice-Chancellors, to an all-time low.
“Chief Lecturers in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education now earn more than Professors in Universities. The proposal by the Nimi Briggs Committee should be revisited as their figures represents a better offer that will stem the tide of unrest in the Universities.
“Financial Autonomy should be extended to Governing Councils to allow them to determine the salaries of the staff in their various universities subject to a national minimum as agreed by all stakeholders.”