The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-owned Universities (COPSUN) has reacted to the comment by the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Emmanuel Osodike, that some universities are ‘quacks.
Mr Osodeke had stated during a television programme that some universities that suspended the union’s prolonged strike are not members of his union.
But the comment has been criticised by state-owned universities.
In its reaction, COPSUN, the body of the chairpersons of governing councils of state-owned universities, said Mr Osodeke’s ‘denigrating’ comments against state universities will not proffer solutions to the ongoing strike.
The statement by its secretary, Marcus Awobifa, said ASUU should use its time to map a way out of incessant strikes “that are crippling the Nigerian public university system.”
It added that the state universities have as its members of council, individuals of repute who have served the country in different capacities.
The statement reads in part: “Amongst the members are retired Ambassadors, retired Generals in the Armed forces, retired Vice-Chancellors, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, renowned politicians and other distinguished professionals.
“It is therefore insulting, contemptuous and unbecoming for the President of ASUU to state that these esteemed individuals are presiding over quack and inconsequential universities.”
COPSUN appealed to Mr Osodeke “to realise that the membership of ASUU is voluntary.”
“Therefore, it is not his ill-informed approach and denigration of state universities that will lead to fashioning out creative approaches to avoid existential extinction that will solve the myriad of problems confronting the university system in Nigeria,” it added.
‘ASUU’s funding model unpopular’
COPSUN said the ASUU president’s approach to university funding is “unpopular and archaic.”
It added that state universities cannot be forced or coerced to implement agreements reached with the federal government, especially one that state governments are not party to.
“The President of ASUU does not realise that his loquacious vituperation and obsolete stalinist, centralised, unpopular approach to the issue of funding of tertiary education in a modern globalised world is archaic, antiquated and impracticable anywhere in the world,” it said.
It added that Mr Osodeke’s comments has vindicated the position of COPSUN on issues including “the negative professionalisation of offices of the unions that operate in our universities and the unserious belief among many members of the unions that the unions are superior to the Councils of the Universities that are their employers.
“The need for immediate democratisation of the membership of unions in the universities to the extent of the freedom of any individual to belong to a union with options of not belonging.
“Devolution of powers on the issues of labour, wages and salaries with freedom of the employers to negotiate with their employees, as it is practiced in other parts of the world, where we borrowed the University system.”
Mr Osodeke, a professor, was responding to questions on Arise Television on Thursday on the impact of the government’s “No work, No Pay” rule on the universities and whether it is responsible for the suspension of the strike by some universities.
He said: “When you are providing data, look at the background. Kwara State University is not a member of ASUU, Osun State University was suspended for its behaviour, you can check. LASU, you mentioned; we are in court with LASU because they sacked all our executives five years ago so they are not part of this struggle and Ekiti State University’s government has the right to say we have reopened just as it has happened in Gombe State University, Yobe and Kaduna State University.
“So, don’t cite those examples as (if) they are irrelevant. Talk about the issue, is the University of Ibadan on strike? Is the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) on strike? Is Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) on strike? Is Bayero University Kano (BUK) on strike? Is Maiduguri University on strike and the University of Lagos? Let’s talk about real universities, not those quacks.”
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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