The 16th National Delegates' Conference of ASUU took place in the context of the failure by the ruling class to find a viable basis for the resolution of the economic, political and social crises caused by almost fifty years of misrule.The crisis is manifest in the unproductive economy, an alarming rate of unemployment, a wobbling education system, systematic disenfranchisement of the people that ultimately perpetuates corrupt leadership, and, the absence of a people-drive alternative.In this context, the resolutions of NDC were made bearing in mind the short-term needs of the country and deeper, transformatory needs.
1. THE ECONOMY
NDC reaffirmed the position of ASUU that a neo-liberal economic policy based upon the World-Bank/International Monetary Fund prescriptions, which have failed in Nigeria through the SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme), its post-SAP successors NEEDS and SEEDS, and the 7-point Agenda, will not serve the interests of a people-driven national development. The politics of the labour movement must challenge the basis of the neo- liberal macroeconomic polices that have got Nigeria stagnated. Consequently, the people of Nigeria, led by labour, should work arduously to present and work to realize an alternative set of economic polices based, not on the fetish of the market but on the needs of the people for a life of well-being. An economy for the purpose of the well-being of the people and an economy based on market worship are incompatible.
1. NDC called for research funds for environmental biodiversity, conservation studies, and for agricultural production strategies and marketing.
2. Urban agriculture should be encouraged
3. There should be investment in tree cropping for the purpose of economic and environmental protection. Deforestation without regeneration should be discouraged.
4. Government should adequately fund agricultural research, production and extension services, in order to properly address issues of food security and industrial development.
5. Farmers’ education should be organized (through Agriculture Development Projects) to take advantage of forming cooperative societies, which shall assist the farmers in accessing credit facilities, agricultural inputs, fertilizers, seeds, machinery, storage facilities, marketing, etc.
A NATIONAL SUMMIT ON EDUCATION
A major cause of the failure of development in Nigeria is the lack of transformative education. ASUU proposes a National Education Summit having the following major objectives:
i. To assess the current philosophy of education in Nigeria with a view to evolving a transformative, people-oriented education capable of driving the country towards its rightful place in the comity of nations,
ii To evaluate the current educational polices and programmes of the Nigerian state within the framework of transformative education.
iii To appraise the context and process of educational development at all levels and at various sublevels, in order to address gaps and needs in the quest for transformative education.
iv To chart a new course for educational delivery capable of fostering the needed corpus of knowledge, skills, values, ethics and other forms of competence in a transformative education system
v To assess the interface between quantity and quality with reference to transformative education in Nigeria.
vi To critically examine the funding policy of governments at the Federal, State and Council levels, in order to determine the funding level adequate to the goals of transformative education.
vii To review cross-cutting issues such as gender, internationalism, management and control of education from local and global perspectives, in order to draw out their relevance/potential or otherwise for transformative education.
4. THE EDUCATION TAX FUND (ETF)
NDC endorsed the position of NEC condemning the move by the Federal Inland Revenue Service through the National Assembly to scrap the Education Tax Fund, a non-budgetary source of funding education provided for in the FGN-ASUU agreement. NDC reminds those trying to scrap the ETF that the consequence for the education will be retrogressive. Therefore ASUU will resist any attempt by any person or any group of persons to scrap the ETF, just when it is being reorganized to play a transformative role in the development of higher education.
5. APPOINTMENT OF VICE -CHANCELLORS:
NDC noted that appointments to highest position in the University system have increasingly become determined by political patronage and ethnic origin, practices foreign to the University culture. NDC condemned this and resolved to convey to the owners of public universities the danger of this emerging trend to the education system.
6. ACADEMIC/ RESEARCH FAIRS
NDC advised universities to organize academic/research fairs periodically to exhibit researches. Outstanding works should be rewarded.
7. THE FUNDING OF EDUCATION
NDC insisted that the Federal and State Governments must honour the Agreement that requires the progressive move to annual 26% budgetary allocation to education.
8. THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSITIES
8.1 THE STATE UNIVERSITIES
1.Funding: The problem of underfunding remains the most obvious obstacle to the development of the State Universities. NDC resolved as follows:
(i) NEC shall continue to mount pressure on State Governments to increase their budgetary allocation on education to at least 26%.
(ii) In line with (i), NEC should prevail on branches to establish linkages with the relevant committees of their various State Houses of Assembly, especially Education and Finance Committees, with a view to ensuring that the 26% minimum allocation to education is achieved.
(iii) NEC should take steps to ensure that the funds budgeted are disbursed and well utilized.
(iv) NEC should ensure that the Budget Monitoring and Implementation Committees are constituted and function in line with the 2009 Agreement.
(v) Branches should be encouraged to prevail on their respective universities’ management to establish professional consultancy units that should be used to execute professional consultancy services as a source of revenue to the universities. University management should endure that 25% of the state consultancy services are given to the unit.
(vi) State governments that are yet to commence the commitment of local governments to fund their universities should be encouraged to do so. This will go a long way in facilitating their development as already is the case in some states, for example, Nassarawa State University (NSU) and Adamawa State University (ADSU).
(vii) NDC recommends the adoption of a certain percentage (2%) withholding fee as “development fund” from all contracts awarded in the state, as is the case in Adamawa State University (ADSU).
8.2 POLITICAL INTERFERENCE
NDC resolved as follows:
(i) Branches should ensure that academic appointments are done in accordance with the laid down University laws and procedures e.g. Heads of Departments, Deans, and Directors of Institutes or Centres.
(ii) Branches should ensure the inclusion of an autonomy clause and such other clauses that promote freedom and autonomy in the edicts/acts establishing their institutions. This could be done by the sponsoring of Bills to the House of Assembly for amendment of the relevant edicts/acts. Branches that are yet to do this shall be mandated to do so immediately.
(iii) Branches should insist that due process always be followed in the appointment/removal of Vice Chancellors and staff in their institutions.
(Iv) Branches should insist that Visitors to the State Universities should constitute Governing Councils where they do not exist, or inaugurate new ones where the tenure of the incumbent has expired. Where a Branch establishes some irregularities in the appointment of any University officer, NEC should give needed support to the Branch to correct them.
(v) NEC should encourage branches to monitor the report of the NUC on the accreditation of programmes in order to ensure that standards are not compromised.
8.3 IMPLEMENTATION OF AGREEMENT
a. NEC should ensure that agreements reached with the union are implemented immediately at the State Universities.
b. NDC mandated NEC to evolve effective ways of compelling State Universities to implement all agreements reached with the union. The possibility of incorporating this into the criteria of University accreditation should be explored.
IDENTIFIED PROBLEMS OF THE STATE UNIVERSITIES
i. Gross Under-Funding: NDC concluded that gross under funding is still the bane of State Universities in Nigeria. This has led to, in many cases, a myriad of structural and academic problems. The major offshoots of the problem of under funding include the lack of and/or decay of basic infrastructure and elusiveness of academic excellence.
ii. Lack of Basic Infrastructure : NDC observed that basic infrastructure such as classrooms, laboratories, lecture theatres, technological workshops, office accommodation, student hostels and good road network, are either ostensibly unavailable or in a state of urgent need for expansion. This has led to a plethora of academic-related problems with debilitating effects on the system. Inconveniences encountered in conducting examinations are clear testimony to this.
9. THE TEACHERS' INDUSTRIAL WORK EXPERIENCE (TIWES)
NDC affirmed that TIWES should be taken more seriously so as to play the necessary role of assisting teachers.
NDC resolved that:
1. A coherent and functional National Policy on Science should be put in place as a matter of urgency.
2. A focussed approach to popularizing Science at the basic levels should be worked out. The Junior Engineer, Technicians and Technology programmes should be revitalized.
3. Emphasis should be placed on Basic Science Research and Policy.
4. There should be a program to train and retrain Science teachers. Only qualified Science teachers should be recruited.
5. Government should adequately fund research institutions, without prejudice to funding Research Laboratories in the Universities.
6. Government, through the ETF, should establish and continually fund contemporary (hi-tech) reference science laboratories in the six geo-political zones in the country.
7. Existing Science-based Institutes/Research centres (e.g. Raw Material Research and Development Council, SHETSCO, NARICT etc) should be re-appraised with a new streamlining and specialization.