ASUU Condems Low Education Budget and Threatens Strikes in 2024

Prof. Osodeke
ASUU president, Prof. Osodeke

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said that due to the small budget allotted to Nigeria's education sector and poor remuneration, universities across the country may witness strikes in 2024.

ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Oshodeke, made this known in an interview with The Punch Newspapers on Monday.

He explained that the current president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, earlier this year, during his campaign and election, promised to increase the amounts of funds allotted to the education sector by at least 15% or more.

Furthermore, it was recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization that an average of 26% should be allocated for the education sector in Nigerian states.

Prof. Oshodele complained that Nigeria is the only country in the world with the least remuneration for professors.

He also revealed that when the 2024 education budget was announced to be only 7.9% (N2.18 trillion) of the budget, ASUU was totally disappointed.

He underlined that it was the same figure given to them throughout the Buhari administration, adding that if the budget was not increased, there would be no growth in the sector.

Oshodeke encouraged the administration to meet with cabinet members and increase the budget to at least 15 percent.

“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.”

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In other reports, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, the national president of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), also said, "It is demoralizing to see the allocation follow the same trend as in the past.

“The sectoral allocation for education is less than eight percent and can barely provide solutions to the multifaceted problems in the sector. The allocation is inadequate and falls short of expectations.”

While discussing the japa syndrome, which he claimed had resulted in an enormous brain drain in the university system, he suggested the government to raise teachers' salaries, pay the backlog of Earned Allowance, and pay withheld salaries.

Prof. Osohodeke further added that “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 expressed concern over the lack of international lecturers in Nigeria's tertiary institutions, 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.”

Dr. Ezeibe also 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.”

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