The Academic Staff Union of Universities, on Tuesday, lamented that the Federal Government has turned its members to farmers and taxi drivers.
The ASUU accused the Federal Government of a deliberate attempt at impoverishing university lecturers by its blunt refusal to implement the Memorandum of Action signed with the union in 2020.
The coordinator of ASUU Lagos Zone, Comrade Adelaja Odukoya stated this while addressing journalists at the end of the zonal meeting of the Union, held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Odukoya, flanked by the branch chairmen from the zone, said academic members “are being impoverished by the Federal Government.”
The Union tackled members of the National Assembly for earning between N1.5million and N1.3million monthly to the detriment of professors with N416, 000 monthly take-home.
The ASUU Lagos coordinator declared that there is no going back on its planned strike action unless the government meets with its demands.
He lamented poor remuneration of ASUU members, saying the Federal government has turned lecturers into farmers and taxi drivers.
Odukoya in a statement, titled, “Our pay cannot take us home: End poverty wage now,” lamented that Nigerian lecturers are the least paid in the world, describing their salary as a “disgraced which shows the premium which the Nigerian government placed on education in the country.”
He noted that the last time the salary of lecturers was increased was in 2009, accusing the Federal Government of “weaponising” poverty against lecturers.
Odukoya declared that the union is not going back on its planned strike action following government’s failure to meet its demands.
The strike, he said, had become imperative, “given the government’s determination to surrender the Nigerian University System to the rapacious plundering, onslaught and permutations of both short-sighted Nigerian officials and foreign agents of neoliberalism.”
Odukoya also accused the Federal Government of paying lip service to education by poorly funding the sector, poor pay to lecturers, and inadequate infrastructure in tertiary institutions, among others.
His words: “It will shock you to know that for most of us outside Lagos, we engage in farming to survive, while some of us in Lagos engage in kabukabu (tax driving) and other menial jobs because our salary can no longer take us home.
“Regrettably, with nine days to the one-year anniversary of the suspension of our last strike and signing of the 2020 MoA (Memorandum of Actions), the government has adamantly and most shamefully refused, failed and neglected to do what was freely agreed to between us.
“It is clear that the Federal Government, by its lamentable actions and condemnable inactions, is adding fuel to an already combustible situation.
“How can Nigerian university teachers play their part in this process if they have to contend with the perennial problem of miserable salaries, especially under conditions of hyperinflation?
“It is troubling that the Nigerian government has turned a blind eye to the suffering of Nigerian university academics. The situation is even worsened by series of cruel neoliberalism policies that seek to transform public education from a public service into a commodity.
“One will be at a loss to understand the attitude of the government to education in the country in general and the condition of service of lecturers in Nigerian public university in particular except one comes to the ugly realisation that there is an orchestrated, deliberate and systemic grand design for the oppression, dehumanisation and impoverishment of Nigerian academics is as old as Nigeria’s post-independence statehood.”
He berated members of the National Assembly for enjoying “jumbo” pay at the detriment of lecturers’ welfare, saying, “We have always insisted that the cost of governance in this country is too high and nobody is doing anything about it. But to increase the salary of lecturers is now a problem for the government.”
“This is happening against the background of the public admission by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan only yesterday that a Senator earns N1.5 million while a member of the House of Representatives earns N1.3m per month.”