Mr. Makarfi wants ASUU members to close ranks and be seen to work diligently to justify what they earn in terms of salaries and allowances.
Another round of ASUU strike has just ended and I personally do not congratulate any of the two parties simply because the damage has been done. The losses are many: a lost session, backlogs of admissions, graduations, national service, lost man hours, academic staff employed elsewhere or even out of the academia, wasted salaries to supporting staff in universities whose services were not utilised as the strike lasted and so on.
However, my main concern here is to sincerely draw the attention of my colleagues in ASUU to the need for self assessment on how we discharge our responsibilities as academic staff. As a body, ASUU must be prepared to admit the weaknesses of some of its members and be seen to demonstrate its readiness to address such lapses. Cumulatively I have been a university academic staff for almost two decades with about half of those years as examinations officer in two Nigerian universities; federal and state. Sometimes in the 1990’s as a member of the executive committee of ASUU in the federal university, some of us tried our best to promote the idea of organising what we called ‘self criticism’ session to discuss the unacceptable practices of some of our members and suggest ways forward. Unfortunately, our calls were not taken seriously and hence nothing was done. But this idea is still with me and the need for such a session is now even more urgently needed, so I hope to share it with readers and especially ASUU members generally and its leadership in particular.
Some ASUU members out of sheeer greed deliberately offer their services to more than one university as sabbatical staff to one and visiting lecturers to others. This definitely leads to a chain of unacceptable events in form of absenteeism from classes, postponed lecture sessions, tightly scheduled lectures at the end of the semester (sometimes over the weekend or even at night!), and pamphlet sales which are all in total disregard to students’ right to receive lectures at officially scheduled times and venues through the session. As a result, such lecturer receives allowances for a job shabbily done.
Some ASUU members collect funds for conference attendance and refuse to attend the conference and/or collect research grants and undertake no research work. This no doubt amounts to betrayal of trust. A few also are involved in plagiarism.
Some ASUU members either support or outrightly perpetrate examination malpractices in its various forms. Some give ‘area of concentration’ to students simply because they did not do a good job in their teaching job; some open register for pamphlate or substandard book sales (you buy you pass); some make money collections to ‘buy’ materials needed to administer tests; some target students especially those doing project work to demand for materials as shameful as bag of rice; some collect money from post graduate students to ‘sign’ their papers; some collect money to write dissertations for students; some collect money to tamper with final results that will alter class of degree; some leak their exam questions to those who pay; yet some sexually harass especially their female students for ‘good’ results; some ‘award’ marks without marking the scripts.
The fact that parents and other members of the outer society or even some students also contribute to some of these happenings is no reason for any academic staff to perpetrate these crimes against society. Such individuals needed to be dealt with appropriately by the academic staff contacted in search of such ‘favours’.
In conclusion I once again call upon ASUU members most of whom are upright to through their leadership close ranks and be seen to work diligently to justify what they earn in terms of salaries and allowances, and also look inward with a view to helping authorities do away with the ‘bad eggs’ within us and any of parent and/or student collaborator. This will help a lot in sanitising the whole academic sphere and doing away with any possible ‘haram’ in ‘boko’.
Sani M Makarfi is of the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,