Biodun Ogunyemi, national president, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has decried that some lecturers not qualified to teach in the universities had found their way into the system.
Ogunyemi also lamented the recruitment system in the country’s universities when he appeared on NAN forum in Abuja on Sunday.
“Some lecturers have no business in the classrooms, but they found their way in due to political interference,” he said.
“You find that some lecturers probably have no business being in the universities but you know politics has done so much damage to us that sometimes merit is sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity and political connections.
“We hope that we shall restore the credibility of the system as we have been trying to argue over the years. A key step to achieving that is for government to create the enabling environment for us to go back to the renegotiation table.
“We need to talk more so that we can come up with a new agreement package that will help us in addressing our universities shortcomings in no time.”
He noted that such recruitment had done a lot of damage to the university system as not all people in the class are able to teach.
“Teaching is all about passion and not about preference of any sort. It is something natural,” Ogunyemi said.
On why students do not have access to current publication by lecturers, he said that facilities for conducting cutting edge research were in a shambles.
He also said that lecturers were doing their best.
“Concerning the publications, Nigerian academics are still doing their best within the limit of their environment. The student population is equally a distraction from research and, without research, you cannot publish,” he said.
“Talking about research, one must have access to current materials which is becoming increasingly difficult because our libraries are no longer stocked as regularly as it used to happen in the past.
“The laboratories are bereft of chemicals and reagents. Modern facilities for conducting cutting edge research are hardly there.
“So, when you talk of publications, our colleagues are still publishing, but, may be, you do not see as many books as we used to have in the past.
“And for those who are actually conscious of the implication of what they put into paper, nobody wants to write junk books. We have limitations which we are trying g to overcome.’’
Ogunyemi said ASUU would continue to advocate for restoration, resuscitation and repositioning of the university system in order to reclaim its enviable position.
ASUU has no factions…
Ogunyemi also debunked the insinuation in some quarters that the union now has a splinter group.
“I do not believe that there is a faction in ASUU. What you see that is playing out is the expression of misgivings by some of our members who are dissatisfied with the sanctions meted out to them for violating the provisions of our constitution,” he said.
“And you will find the largest concentration at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; and in that university, you will also find that we still control up to 60 per cent or more of the membership.
“And, if you leave Ile-Ife and go to other campuses where they are pronouncing that they want to join one group or the other, you cannot count more than five in those universities.
“That tells you that the group we are talking about just exists in the air, that group is not on ground.’’
According to him, the University of Ilorin and the Federal University, Lokoja, are now fully back in ASUU and so cannot be listed as those opposing the union.
“I visited the place and I met with a few people that said they were dissatisfied with the way the union was being run in the branch,” he added.
“After engaging them, they said that they were ready to join the union and so they are going back to ASUU.’’
Ogunyemi noted that the association had always engaged dissatisfied members to address their grievances and work towards moving the union forward.
He said that the union was currently resolving the crisis at Obafemi Awolowo University, adding that the crisis between members of the union in the institution would soon be resolved.
“What we do in our union is to engage them; we do not write anybody off, even those we suspended or expelled,” said the ASUU president.
“We give window for them to appeal. Even at Ife now, there is a process of engagement that has been ongoing for some time, and we believe that crisis will soon be a thing of the past.’’
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