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How to stop strikes in varsities, by Attahiru Jega
From Adamu Abuh, Kano

Guardian

VICE Chancellor, Bayero University Kano (BUK) and former National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Attahiru Jega has implored the Federal Government to improve the welfare of workers and learning conditions in the universities.

Such steps by the Federal Government, according to him, would bring an end to the strike actions often embarked upon by both the academic and non-academic staff members of universities.

 

Chinazo Okoli

 

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Jega, who spoke to journalists in his office in Kano recently, affirmed that the permanent way out of strikes is to have a fundamental improvement in the system, which addresses both conditions of work and service. Conditions of service deal with salaries and allowances but conditions of work deal with classrooms, laboratories, research among others.

His words, "In the Nigerian University system, both conditions of work and service are very poor, compared to even our neighbours in Africa not to talk of what obtains abroad. Unless you have substantial improvement in these areas, frankly, we may continue to have crises. But if we are lucky to we have a listening government that can appreciate the problems and take the trouble to do its best, the problem would be tackled.

"That is all we are asking. We are not asking the government to do impossible things. Other countries are doing the right things; our government should also try to do the right thing. That right thing is to invest appropriately in education."

Jega noted that government's intervention in the poor conditions of work and service would also help in nipping in the bud, incidences of student riots and cultism on Nigerian campuses. He revealed that in the last two years, BUK has received over N350 million in the form of cash, donations and equipment from a few corporate organisations and state governments, mainly from the catchment areas of the university.

The vice chancellor also revealed that from 2001 to date, BUK also collected a grant of over $ 5 million from MacArthur Foundation, a United States based philanthropic organisation. The money, he said, has helped in equipping laboratories, procuring up to date facilities for the department of Mass Communications, and the sponsorship of 35 staff members of the university to pursue a Ph.D programme.

He also revealed that the money facilitated the establishment of new programmes in Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Computer Engineering, Agric Engineering as well as the construction and equipping of the Centre for Information Technology.

Enjoining corporate organisations, wealthy individuals to come to the aid of BUK, he said a lot still needs to be done to improve the standard of teaching and learning in the institution. He cited the rehabilitation of the Mass Communication studio as well as that of the Faculty of Technology established in 1982 as some of the daunting tasks facing the University.

He said the Faculty of Technology alone would require at least N600 million, which acknowledged could not be obtained from the state government for now.

The vice chancellor observed that the number of candidates seeking for admission into the BUK for the current academic session has risen from 10,000 to 21,000 based on application statistics obtained from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) This, he said is aside the number of anticipated direct entry applicants, which is expected to make total admission applicants rise to 30,000.

The VC who acknowledged that not all applicants would be offered admission in view of the limited spaces available. He said the UME science and arts based applicants would be subjected to quantitative and verbal screening.

He noted: "We have a quota of 3, 771 spaces for admission. So, for every one person admitted, there are at least 78 others seeking for that position. There is a paradox: more applicants and limited spaces. However, we would ensure that only the best scale through. We would maintain the standard so as not to compromise quality and credibility of the institution. Obviously we would like to give a chance to anybody who qualifies but it is simply impossible"

On the recent decision by the university authority to ban the use of tinted glass by motorists, he said it was borne out of the need to improve security on campus. "We have realised that people are hiding behind tinted glasses to come into campus to cause problem for us. We have now installed CCTV cameras at all our gates both old and new campus. It is for the sake of identification. The rule covers all categories of the glasses. It has helped us. We have started identifying people who have attempted to steal vehicles on campus already," he stated.

Reiterating his resolve to re-train staff members of the institution, he revealed that in the last 2 years, the university has recruited up to 200 academic members of staff with requisite degrees.
 

 

 

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