It is no longer news that majority of academics in Nigeria public universities occupy one position or the other in private universities. Similarly, it is a fact that Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has gone on industrial action since February 2022 mainly over IPPiS (Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System) which it rejected so as not to allow curbing of fraud associated with payment of university staff emoluments.
Surreptitiously, the Union added other issues including 2009 agreement it has been snoring over before introduction of IPPIS. Ideally, every worker has terms and conditions upon which he is engaged and such conditions usually govern the relationship between employees and the employers.
However, by leniency, some implied gentlemen terms were introduced into this relationship which some workers and employers have misused.
That is why any worker who deliberately absconds from work is by law, in nearly all of the nations of the world, not entitled to any pay for his unilateral decision except the Union whose directive he follows would pay for affordable days or period.
In a normal setting such as in private universities, no overbearing union exists to dictate to the Management or workers of such universities on who should design payment platform to pay university staff the same way students have no opportunity to dictate which software should be used by lecturers and management for their admission, result processing and other student-related matters in public or private universities.
Meanwhile, in the case of Nigeria, this is what is happening whereby ASUU is dictating to its employer; the government on what software should be used for its payment as if students are allowed to determine what criteria to use for their admission and results processing.
However, In Nigeria, aberration has become norms while normalcy has been seen as anomaly. No wonder, most of our societal thieves are now those considered to be chiefs (or high chiefs) while the morally upright people are abased in the society.
We now live in a society where unethical and immoral acts enjoy public patronage while uprightness is seen as sign of dullness. Similarly, selfishness and fraud by the few at the expense of majority enjoys more sympathy than someone who struggles for community progress.
One thing that distinguishes public institutions from the private institutions is the fact that more staff are employed in the public institutions than their private counterparts.
This is not unconnected with the facts that public institutions are not essentially created for profit but essential services provision and reduction of employment in the society.
This is my concern for this piece.The essential education being provided by Nigerian public universities make Government engage workers and in the event that there is low patronage of public universities, there won’t be moral justification for public institutions to hold on to many staff to cope with.
When this happens, workers would be laid off. Now, as most youths are leaving public universities in Nigeria due to prolonged ASUU strike orchestrated by retrogressive agenda of the Union leaders, the hope dims for public universities to retain the current staff strength in the aftermath of any attempt to prolong the strike beyond September 2022.
Meanwhile, one thing that is always immutable is that labour leaders usually care more about their selfish interest than that of their followers. No wonder, when any downsizing issue is being discussed between organization management and labour leaders, the labour leaders always have soft landing as they would have discussed their own job security with the management leaving the voiceless people to their peril.
With the youths leaving public universities, most workers who are silent on the prolonged University Unions’ strike would soon be the victims of such strike.
This is mainly the target of the Unions whose leaders have stake in most of the private universities where students now troop to and those who have no other source keep silent as if the union leaders mean well for them.
When mass downsizing in public institutions happen as being worked towards by the Union leaders, majority of the workers won’t find jobs so soon or may even find it difficult to have opportunity of getting replacement with similar or higher pay as obtainable in public institutions.
Would they therefore continue their silence till the inevitable negative consequences of the prolonged strike happen? Besides, most of the State public institutions of learning depend on internally-generated revenue to pay their bills.
So, with reduced revenue from fewer students, where would they get the fund to pay their bills? I hope those who have ears would rise up now so that they won’t ignorantly blame government or anyone later for their costly silence when certainty occurs.
The reality is that the ASUU leaders have no sympathy for their members and families who have lost their souls as a result of the strike. The reason is not far-fetched- the Union leaders dip their hands into union accounts to get money to take care of themselves and their families whereas the non-executive members have no way to go.
The utmost goal of the union later would just be save your soul first before others. So, as ASUU cares less for job security of public universities staff in Nigeria, the wise public members must not allow them throw multitude of people to unemployment market after which they would have opportunity to rake in enough from the private universities where they have stake.
Abeokuta, Ogun State