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Our complaints with Babalakin – Nigerian university professors

The government of Nigeria and the Union of Universities of Academic Staff (ASUU) have been in disagreement since 2009. During this period, agreements and promises were made, but broke and university education was left to hemorrhage.

At the center of the dispute between the two sides are the lack of funds from public universities and the alleged plan of the federal government to introduce tuition fees and an education bank. The university professors also complained about the lack of implementation of previous agreements.

Between 1999 and 2018, PREMIUM TIMES checks revealed that ASUU had been on strike for more than 40 months, a sad reality that the federal government says it wants to turn into a forgettable past.

In February 2017, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, set up a committee "to generate sustainable peace, industrial harmony in tertiary institutions and solve imminent problems".

The Renegotiation Committee of the 2009 Agreement of 16 members of the Federal Union of Universities / Academic Personnel of Universities (ASUU) is chaired by Wale Babalakin, a Senior Defender of Nigeria (SAN).

Among the members are M.M. Jibril, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Lafia; Nimi Briggs, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja; Gbemisola Saraki, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Otuoke; and Lawrence Ngbale, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi.

The team was asked to interact with the university unions: the Union of Academic Staff Universities (ASUU), the Union of Non-Academic Personnel (NASU), the Association of Higher Personnel of Universities of Nigeria (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT): on the content of the agreement reached by the unions with the government in 2009.

But in August of this year, ASUU described Babalakin as "an obstacle in the process of renegotiation" and called for the suspension of the committee.

On August 7, the union said the renegotiation had collapsed because of Mr. Babalakin's alleged arrogance, which he said had mocked the renegotiation process.

The president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, alleged that Mr. Babalakin did not relate to the union as a negotiator but as a judge. "He was always trying to override," he said.

According to Mr. Ogunyemi, Mr. Babalakin dismissed the ASUU report. "That kind of person can not be a negotiator because he thinks his opinion should be superior. That is not a good trait of a good negotiator and that is unlike him. Dr. Wale Babalakin has an ideological stance on how to finance Nigerian education.

"We identified many sources on how to finance education. We talked about leaks in tax collections and brought examples. We talk about corruption and we document. We talked about the contribution of Alumni, we talk about consulting. The only one we did not agree on was the issue of the tuition fee, "said the president of ASUU.

" His ideological position has been translated into his difference with ASUU. Babalakin has not been telling the truth about what he was doing at the negotiating table. On the subject of the Education Bank, a fact occurred and we told him that it can not work in Nigeria. We produce a document where we write about government failure for seven years when we test it. "

In explaining the union's position on financing education and the proposal for the Bank of Education, Mr. Ogunyemi said: "We show that if all students receive a loan of N1 million and N700,000 for universities, is it Is that realistic? Initially, he denied that he never said that students will pay tuition, but when we presented the fact, he could not talk anymore. "

Mr. Ogunyemi said that Mr. Babalakin should be penalized for misinforming the government and the public. He said that the president of the negotiation team was representing private interests and using the government platform and wanted to use government money to boost private business.

"We do not take the issue of criminality very seriously and that is why the banks will continue to collapse and the people who caused it will remain in politics, that is our problem with Babalakin," he said.

The "no work not pay" directive in which the federal government recently said that the vice-chancellors of federal universities should make sure that ASUU members who are currently on strike do not receive their salaries, Mr. Ogunyemi said that the directive is not new.
He said the union is committed to making a sacrifice to rescue public education and restore the integrity of a university degree in Nigeria.

"Although, we learned that the circular has been withdrawn. They have enough information about what our demands are and know that they are for the future of the country. Our work is in three folds. We must teach, investigate and use the result to contribute to the demand of the community. Therefore, our defense of a better education to transform Nigeria is the third part of our service.

"We did not go very far with the meetings, we have a meeting with the Ministry of Education on Tuesday and we hope to hear from them tomorrow if we receive their invitation, but the students should ask the government when they will return to school."

Meanwhile, Mr. Babalakin had previously explained the areas where his committee did not agree with the striking university professors. The lawyer said that his team and ASUU agreed on the need to improve the funding of education, but they differed in the origin of funding

On November 10, Mr. Babalakin said he believed that the Nigerians deserved a quality education and that this should not be compromised as a result of inadequate funding, which according to him has been the situation in the last 30 years.

He dismissed accusations that his team suggested an increase in fees at universities, and explained that the scope of the committee's work had nothing to do with the fees paid at schools.

"Unfortunately, we are forced to respond to ASUU's accusations that have been made harshly in the print and electronic media because some Nigerians may begin to believe the inaccurate narratives that ASUU has consistently provided.

" Our The position as a team is that Nigerians deserve and must have a quality education.This should not be compromised as a result of inadequate funding, as has been the situation over the past 30 years. "

All efforts to obtain a response from two of the committee members, Messrs. Briggs and Bamiro, were unsuccessful as they did not respond to calls and messages to their known telephone numbers.

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