The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has revealed a seemingly ominous ploy to retrench most of the non-teaching staff in Nigerian universities as contained in the report of the Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.
This disclosure was made on Wednesday, January 15, 2013 in a lecture titled “Needs Assessment – A Benchmark of Confusion” which was organized by SSANU Western Zone and delivered by Comrade Abdussobur Olayiwola Salaam at the Pre-Degree Auditorium of Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria.
In welcoming the public to the lecture, Comrade Goodluck Ohwavborua who is the Branch Chairman of SSANU in Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, explained that the lecture had earlier been delivered at four universities, namely, the University of Ibadan, the University of Ilorin, the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and the University of Benin, before coming to Delta State University.
“The lecture is meant to sensitize the non-teaching staff of Nigerian universities and the general public on the contentious issues raised in the Needs Assessment Report as it affects the non-teaching staff; the Needs assessment Report is mis-leading with damaging recommendations on the non-teaching staff of the university system, and the public lecture/press conference is to put the records straight and correct some mis-information and exaggerations contained therein”, Comrade Ohwavborua explained.
In the public discourse which Comrade Abdussobur Olayiwola Salaam delivered with only Power-Point slides (to the admiration of his audience), he first gave a background that the inadequacies pointed out in our Nigerian public universities prompted the Federal Government to constitute a committee on Needs Assessment in 2012 with members drawn from academic staff and some government parastatals and agencies, but totally excluded the non-teaching staff and students of the universities.
And that instead of gathering data from key non-teaching officers of the universities like the bursars and registrars, who are the custodians of the university finances and laws, the committee which was chairman by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, used direct mailing system, Internet, television, newspaper advertisements, interaction with university managements and made some comparisons with International Best Practices.
And that with this discriminatory membership and wrong methodology of gathering data, the Needs Assessment Committee reported that there were too many non-teaching staff in the universities and that government was spending too much money on remunerations and training of the non-teaching staff.
Prof. Yakubu and his team therefore recommended that the strength of the non-teaching staff in the public universities should be downsized to a ratio of 1 administrative staff (senior) to 12 academic staff and 1 technical staff to 20 academic staff, and there should be no regular junior staff! The implication of this obnoxious recommendation, according Comrade Salaam, is that most of the non-teaching staff working in the public universities now, should be retrenched without any fault of theirs.
The entire audience was flabbergasted when, further in the lecture, Comrade Salaam revealed from a chart on Staffing in United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions that between 2004/2005 and 2011/2012 Academic Sessions, there were between 160,655 (46%) and 181,385 (48%) academic staff against 185,650 (54%) and 196,860 (52%) non-teaching staff in United Kingdom universities.
Thereafter, Comrade Salaam provided a Summary of Some United States/Canada Universities (Academic/Non-Teaching Staff Populations) and specifically pointed out that Stanford University has 1,995 (15%) academic staff and 10,979 (84.6%) non-teaching staff; John Hopkins University has 3,100 (17.1%) academic staff and 15,000 (82.9%) non-teaching staff; University of Michigan has 6,615 (26%) academic staff and 18,524 (74%) non-teaching staff; Harvard University has 2,100 (13.4%) academic staff and 13,500 non-teaching staff (including employees of its medical centres); University of California has 4,016 (13.3%) academic staff and 26,139 (86.7%) non-teaching staff; University of Washington has 5,803 (26%) and 16,174 (74%); University of Chicago has 2,168 (13%) academic staff and 14,772 non-teaching staff (including employees of its medical centres); University of Texas has 3,018 (13%) academic staff and 21,000 (87%) non-teaching staff while the University of Alberta has 3,620 (24%) academic staff and 11,762 (76%) non-teaching staff.
Coming back to the Nigeria situation, the erudite lecturer, who is a Principal Assistant Registrar in Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, provided recent Analysis of Budgetary Allocation of Some Universities to show that government spends more money on the academic staff, who are fewer, than even the non-teaching staff, who are more.
Typically, he pointed out that the 1,966 (27%) academic staff of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, earn N6,885,411,000 (52%) whereas the 5,405 (73%) non-teaching staff there earn N6,299,712,824 (48%); the 1,249 (37%) academic staff of University of Ibadan earn N4,549,993,680 (60%) whereas the 2,122 (63%) non-teaching staff there earn N3,072,857,068 (40%) and the 516 (29%) academic staff of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, earn N2,705,342,399 (63%) whereas the 1,253 (71%) non-teaching staff there earn N1,618,966,693 (37%) in the 2011/2012 Session.
Commenting on the analysis, Comrade Abdussobur Salaam said: “Applying the principle of central tendency to the above data, we can obtain the average earning of a teaching staff as approximately One Hundred and Three Thousand Naira per month and the average earning of a non-teaching staff irrespective of cadre, as approximately Forty Thousand, Four Hundred Naira per month.
The implication of this is that for every Ten Naira a teaching staff takes home, a non-teaching staff takes Four Naira (Ratio 10:4). The question to ask, is that if the teaching staff, on the average, earns more than twice the non-teaching staff as analyzed in the data above, why would the Needs Assessment Committee allude or create the impression that the non-teaching staff earn more, and that the resources of universities are unjustifiably expended on non-teaching staff payments?”
Concluding the lecture, Comrade Salaam said: “We have been able to establish that the Needs Assessment Committee Report is laced with many flaws and errors. Therefore, we the members of the non-teaching unions (SSANU, NAAT & NASU) who incidentally have the highest numerical strength after the students in our university communities, with all sense of responsibility to our members, the stakeholders of university communities, and our dear nation, do unequivocally reject the committee’s report, especially the areas affecting our jobs and welfare”.
Comrade Alfred I Jimoh who is SSANU National Vice President/Chairman of Western Zone and who led the lecture delegation thanked the lecturer and clarified that the areas of the Needs Assessment Report which the three unions of non-teaching staff of the universities are rejecting are those recommending the obnoxious staff ratio of 1:12 & 1:20 (which implies retrenchment of non-teaching staff for no fault of theirs), stoppage of non-teaching staff’s training/development and the discriminatory membership of the Needs Assessment Committee.
Commenting on the enlightening lecture, Chief E.O. Egheneji (Deputy Registrar, Establishments, DELSU), Mrs. J. Omoyine (Deputy Registrar, Students Affairs, DELSU), Engr. B.S.O. Akpomie (Director of Works & Services, DELSU), Comrade S.O. Erubrenyo, (past Chairman of SSANU-DELSU), Comrade (Chie)f N.E.L. Anho (Deputy Registrar/Secretary of College of Health Sciences, DELSU) and Comrade Glory Sokoh (past National Vice-President/Chairman, SSANU Western Zone) all thanked the lecturer and advised that the enlightenment should be passed to all stakeholders in the country, to avert the looming mass retrenchment of non-teaching staff, which is like ‘satanic verses’ enshrined in the Needs Assessment Report.
Their comments were lauded by all the members of the three non-teaching staff unions, namely, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) who were present at the event.
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