The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to go on strike over the “low” budgetary allocation for education by the Federal Government as well as low staff salaries.
ASUU Chairman Prof. Emmanuel Oshodeke explained to journalists on Monday that during the campaign and election earlier this year, President Bola Tinubu promised to increase the budget for education to at least 15%.
Similarly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization recommended a 26% benchmark allocation for the education sector for member countries.
He complained that Nigeria was the country with the lowest pay for professors in the world.
Oshodek also stated that ASUU was disappointed when the 2024 education budget was announced to be N2.18 trillion, or 7.9 percent of the total budget.
He reiterated that it was the same figure during the Buhari administration, adding that if the budget was not increased, there would be little progress in the sector.
Oshodeke advised the government to meet with cabinet members and increase the budget to at least 15 percent of the total.
“With this seven per cent education budget, nothing will change in the sector, it is just as we had during Buhari’s time. Tinubu during his campaign promised to increase the education budget but nothing.
“However, there is still a chance for him, to change. But if no improvement on this and our other demands, by next year, we will mobilise our people and we can’t stay like this because Oyo State has 15 per cent and Enugu State budgeted 32 per cent for education, but FG is giving less than eight per cent.
“He can still increase it, they should liaise with the executives and come out with a budget that is not less than 15 per cent as he promised during the election.”
The National president of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Dr Anderson Ezeibe, also told reporters “It is demoralising to see the allocation follow the same trend as in the past.
“The sectoral allocation for education is less than eight per cent and can barely provide solutions to the multifaceted problems in the sector. The allocation is inadequate and falls short of the expectations.”
While discussing the japa syndrome, which he claimed had resulted in an overwhelming brain drain in the university system, the ASUU boss advised the government to raise lecturers’ salaries, pay the backlog of Earned Allowance, and pay withheld salaries.
Osohodeke added, “They should increase lecturers’ salaries, and the increment of retirement age, will enable lecturers to produce more PhDs, but the government is not interested in the system. They should separate lecturers from civil servants.”
He also bemoaned the lack of international lecturers in the tertiary institutions in Nigeria, saying, “For you to be well-ranked, you have to get lecturers all over the world to come lecture in your system. We pay the least remuneration to professors, globally.
“Professors in Nigeria earn between $200 to $300 a month but when such a professor moves to Rwanda, he earns $3000.
“The government should allow universities to run on its own, they should sign the agreement with Nimi Briggs. They can do all these if there is willpower.”
Ezeibe, added, “The only way to stop the japa syndrome and save our sector from brain drain is to improve funding for the education sector, improve the wage structure to meet at least the African average, and restore governance in the sector to global standards. By doing these, our academics who are leaving will stay back as they will be better motivated.”