Pauperising Professors: Pay Them!
What is the Adamu Adamu Syndrome? National disgrace is something the Buhari government neither understands nor cares about. The world is looking with laughter, though. A nation that claims to have the brainiest people on the planet. The latest national disgrace is Nigeria’s professors, lecturers, and researchers working in Nigerian universities now live like paupers and work like slaves. ASUU Strike 2022 is showing the world that professors in Nigeria suffer. In fact, starvation, pennilessness, and resorting to begging or handouts to survive are professors lots. Well, those who are academics full-time at universities. And many with doctorates from the world’s best universities. Five years at the University of Lagos. Two years at Stanford University. Four and a half years at the University of Benin. All with great final grades, then poverty and slavery. If Nigerian universities die, Nigeria will die too. Nigeria will die too.
In 1900, the United States of America was a Third World country. How did the USA become a superpower in 45 years? Smart governments, lots of cash and the output of universities. In contrast, Nigeria thinks it can develop with a rubber-seed government, more loans than they can ever payback, and the crashing of their universities. The only hope they have left is to pay the academic staff in full and invest in its universities. Then they can start afresh.
Now to the important questions. Why pay professors such undeserving salaries? Why pay them in such an unpredictable and arbitrary manner? When has it become undemocratic, unconstitutional, or criminal to strike in Nigeria? Nigeria’s professors are paupers because the Government of Nigeria (GON) refuses to pay them.
Notwithstanding, we have a self-serving manipulator and deceiver of the public; Adams Oshiomhole who introduced the ‘no work, no pay’ rule. That is a man who spent most of his career gaining national prominence by organising better working conditions and strikes using millions of Nigerians. Once in politics, and no longer with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), he betrayed a whole nation of workers. Well, well, well. From socialist to neoliberal, a butterfly reverting into a slug.
The salaries owed to ASUU members the GON must pay in full. Not in trickles nor in tranches. In full! ASUU members have three functions in their work description contracts. First, is teaching. Second, is research. And third is community service. Academic staff can only strike on teaching. Otherwise, research is the lifeblood of an academic career. Those outside university academics may be unaware of the “Publish or Perish” doctrine. It means if you do not do research and publish its outcomes in reputable publications, your academic career credibility drops. That means no promotion and no recognition. It is like a multimillion-dollar striker who scores no goals in the Premier League season after season. Thousands of ASUU members are publishing in journals and elsewhere during this strike. Unsurprisingly, in hunger.
We must affirm there are wealthy professors and those with other sources of income. So many are not and rely on their salaries alone.
Community service is most notable when academics become returning officers at general elections. Free public lectures, government service, NGO support, TV/Radio interviews, specialist advice, provision of references, etc. These are usual community services. Unusual community services we will not discuss here.
How then can professors not get the salaries and arrears paid to them in full?
As the ASUU Strike 2022 impoverishes professors, their incentive to continue in their work is in doubt. Well, in Nigeria. Several of whom were already scavenging for food and sustenance before the strike. Universities in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East are of interest. They are witnessing an unprecedented surge of applications and interest inquiries for jobs from Nigerian academics. Moreover, professors need decent pay, research funds, proper facilities, and security. Oh Yes! Pundits complain of brain-drain. Yet, some celebrate the high-skilled Nigerians helping to improve Western societies. As Nigeria suffers pernicious skill shortages.
Hence, how then can professors not get their salaries and arrears paid to them in full? It is a better option than a shameless, thoughtless, feckless GON-engineered mass brain drain. What does it matter? Hmm! One reason Nigeria has no constant electricity is that when privatising the sector, there were not enough skilled local professionals to operate it. Moreover, the cost of employing expatriates was far too high. Thus, rubbish electricity supply continues. This is true of several other local sectors.
The Adamu Adamu Syndrome is new, though. Professors and lecturers who live by talking and writing now refuse to discuss their current hardship with outsiders. Why? For fear of people thinking, their complaints are a prelude to begging. Most people with problems talk or complain about them with others. Now the silence of their predicament holds professors hostage. Bianimikaley! Such a syndrome reminds us of slaves who dared not discuss their dehumanisation by the masters. Adamu Adamu is the slave master on behalf of the GON. He does not use a whip but immiseration Pauperising professors instead of paying them. . It is an atrocity!
The great thing is the academic staff are strong, capable, and will not accept games. They have got this one and the GON knows it.
Professorship is a calling and vocation, besides being a career. Not enough people choose to become lecturers and professors currently. The monumental neoliberal ethic, “Greed Is Right!” attracts a few brains into academia by the year. In contrast, more people need university training. Furthermore, the worthiness of education relies on prestige, credibility, age of institution, and tangibility. The 76-year-old University will always be more prestigious than a 2-year-old Musokpadiwa Pacific University.
The government needs a careful rethink of its globalisation policies. We know the Nigerian government wants to crash public universities. And at the behest of globalisation institutions. Elsewhere, we read pundits proclaim Google must turn Nigerian universities to online institutions. Yet, their kids are at Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and St Andrews. Nonetheless, the pundits claim the GON should force professors to raise money to fund universities. Still, pundits are not so eloquent at stating the causes of ASUU Strike 2022.
Pay the professors, lecturers and researchers their full salaries, not pauperise them. That’s all. The youth is watching as their futures get dimmer. They do not want Nigeria to die and may take action to keep it alive.