ith the admission by Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, that the bulk of the National Budget for education is used to pay the salaries of 10,500 Professors in the public university system, this administration’s onslaught on public education has been pushed to a new level.
In a media interview, Nwajiuba claimed that university professors’ strike is a major reason driving students overseas and to private universities.
I will present accessible information to correct the record on lecturers’ pay, and then go on to discuss why lecturers deserve fair pay that reflects the value they bring to the academic system and society.
When the Federal Government conducted a Needs Assessment of Nigerian institutions in 2012, it discovered that 28,128 teachers were full-time and pensionable out of 37,504 lecturers. Despite the regular attrition due to resignations, retirements, and death, there has been no large recruiting of academic staff since then.
This is what compelled a few academics to shoulder the workload of many lecturers, prompting the ASUU-FGN deal of 2009, which established earned academic allowances.
Government owes lecturers Billions of Naira between 2013 and 2020, yet these lecturers have no right to protest about their lawfully earned entitlements in the government’s wisdom.
According to the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, a lecturer will be paid N15,000 per student per year, a senior lecturer will be paid N20,000, and a professor will be paid N25,000 per student per year for supervision. For several years of overseeing pupils, the instructors, now portrayed as greedy and gluttonous, have yet to be paid.
For a Master’s dissertation, an external examiner should be paid N80,000, and for a Doctoral dissertation, N105,000. For the same purposes, the internal examiners should be paid N45,000 and N65,000 respectively, but these are just in the agreement and have not been executed in eleven years! These are not issues, in Nwajiuba’s opinion, that warrant a strike.
Despite the fact that 97 percent of UTME applicants choose university education over polytechnic or college education, university professors are overworked and underpaid.
1,558,686 UTME candidates chose university in 2018, with 24,524 NCE and 69,712 polytechnic applicants. Private universities are chosen by less than 10% of degree-seeking applicants. Both the Federal Government and ASUU produced two wage tables (I and II) in 2009.
The African average salary was supposed to be paid across the continent, but the government argued that Table I, which undervalues intellectualism, should be used to pay academics until the government is able to raise finances to meet the African average income. The body agreed to accept less while undertaking more labor because of ASUU’s selfless attitude.
Unfortunately, it has been eleven years since they have been paid slave-like pay, which will undoubtedly make Ugandan public university colleagues cringe! The following is a breakdown of the pay of the ‘selfish’ Nigerian academics by cadre:
- Assistant Lecturer (N118,277 -N137, 334).
- Lecturer II (N129, 724 – N153, 563) holds a doctorate degree.
- Lecturer I have at least three years of post-doctoral work experience (N160, 809 – N203, 778)
- Senior Lecturer with a minimum of six years of experience (N222,229–314, 159).
- Associate Professor (N277, 179 – N350, 169), with at least nine years of experience on the job.
- A Full Professor with a minimum of 12 years of experience (N332, 833 – 416, 743).
They receive these after deductions for taxes and other expenses. A newly appointed Full Professor earns N437, 499 before deductions, and N332, 833 after deductions. A professor “at the bar” is one who has worked for ten years as a professor and can earn a consolidated salary of N555, 351 with a monthly net pay of N416, 743 after deductions!
Assistant Lecturers make $1,631 per month in Ugandan public universities, Senior Lecturers get $2,432 per month, Associate Professors receive $3,891 per month, and Professors earn $4,054 monthly respectively.
A Junior Lecturer at the University of South Africa earns between N10,453, 326 and N17,427,663 per year; Lecturers earn between N12,547,744 and N20,910,248; Senior Lecturers earn between N16,272,983 and N27,891,819; Associate Professors earn between N20,224,232 and N32,564,902); and Professors earn between N22,325,844 and N37,209,741 per year.
Does this explain why our public universities have a hard time attracting international scholars? To be sure, the mix of international scholars and students is one of the factors taken into account when rating institutions around the world. Are you still perplexed as to why South Africa consistently ranks first in African varsity rankings?
Scholars in South Africa have research votes and cash set aside to help them attend international conferences. A lecturer in the orange country gets rewarded for every publication in a peer-reviewed journal, as is the department and faculty to which the researcher belongs.
So no one in South Africa makes fun of a prolific and NRF-rated (National Research Foundation) researcher. In order to improve citations, they also pay for their experts to publish in high-impact publications. Such funds do not now exist in Nigeria.
The fact that the University of Ibadan is still ranked among the greatest in the world is largely due to the personal sweat of the institution’s dedicated scholars, rather than any particular incentive structure.
Lecturers are often obliged to take out loans in order to attend foreign conferences since their institutions, unexpectedly, make it a requirement for a promotion.
As a result, telling colleagues from institutions that provide conference financing that you as a Nigerian academic borrowed money to attend a conference is usually unpleasant.
The parasitic Nigerian system, in which the knowledge economy is downgraded and personal interest is elevated, has this character.
While South Africa devoted 396 billion Rand to education in 2020, President Buhari’s 2021 budget budgeted N691.07 billion, or 6.7 percent of the total budget, a gross inadequacy of the UNESCO-mandated requirement of 26 percent.
Unlike the Minister of State for Education’s claim that the majority of the education budget is spent on 10,500 professors, the N691.07 billion will be used to fund 28 Education Parastatals, 37 Federal Universities, 25 Federal polytechnics, 21 Federal Colleges of Education, and 104 unity schools! Know who your leaders are and what to believe based on what they say.
With its policies, the government, which is unable to pay for research, intentionally discourages funders from sponsoring Nigerian researchers. Bursars are frequently required to travel to Abuja for clearance to withdraw funds, rather than releasing funds to researchers immediately.
I am aware of grant funds that have not to be disbursed for a year owing to Treasury Single Account constraints! Surprisingly, lecturers, despite their low salaries, are already donating printing papers to keep their departments running.
The lack of a functioning internet, antiquated lecture halls, laboratories with 1980s-era equipment, and a comatose power supply all obstruct the delivery of high-quality teaching and research.
The ruling class is well aware of this, and their children are being educated in the global north. They have employment waiting for them at the NNPC, FIRS, Custom Service, and the Central Bank when they return. Poor children are expected to participate in the Inspector General of Police’s community policing recruitment exercise, where the same political class will hijack recruitment. In either case, the general public is cheated.
Only the children of the wealthy and those in positions of power are allowed to travel overseas, not the children of the general public. Many of the latter write JAMB every year, but due to a lack of adequate space, decaying equipment, and insufficient instructors, UI (University of Ibadan), for example, cannot accept more than 3,000 students instead of the 12,000 it has.
Is it not reasonable to assume that as infrastructure improves, the number of persons who can be admitted will increase? IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system) is merely a diversion; it is not the cause of the ASUU strike.
Support ASUU for improved service conditions and the revitalization of public universities, or support the government in its destruction of public universities. It is up to us to make a decision!