SIR: The locust years of military rule dealt a crippling blow to the nation’s educational system. Before independence, the University of Ibadan was a Mecca of sorts for academics and students from all over the world. Foreign students interested in knowing more about Africa berthed there as well as academics who wanted to do their sabbatical on African soil. The other first generation universities like the University of Lagos, University of Nigeria Nsukka, University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University and the Ahmadu Bello University were ranked globally as competitive institutions of higher learning.

These schools alongside the second-generation universities and the ones to follow were dealt a gargantuan blow with lack of funding, strikes, interference with the appointment of the vice-chancellors, dearth of research among the challenges that the schools are grappling with.

The essence of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Systems (IPPIS) is to stop the unwholesome practice of many academics teaching in more than one institution at the same time on a full-time basis. The idea is to ensure that academics identify with one higher institution where they will be paid their salaries.

The practice is morally wrong as the innocent students, most of who went through hell and high water to pay their fees are short-changed. Research which is a core function of academics the world over also suffers a great backlash.

To be fair, ASUU has a point as the budgetary allocation to the educational sector falls way below the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) recommendation. There is also the indiscriminate award of university licenses without a corresponding quality assurance check on those mushroom schools.

However, the unionization of higher education is doing more harm than good. It belonged to the Marxist era which has long collapsed – the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. It has no place in the 21st century. Our universities should be run on a public-private partnership with the private sector leading the course. Fund managers should be allowed to manage the endowment grants and funds from school fees and the rest to ensure that funding becomes a thing of the past.

The vice-chancellor should not necessarily be an academic just as in the same way hospital administrators abroad are not necessarily doctors. The vice chancellors should preferably come from the private sector and should set the agenda for the smooth running of the universities. The professors should concentrate and channel their energies towards their core mandates of teaching and research. The scramble and battle for political positions especially the vice chancellorship is a huge distraction which shouldn’t be allowed to subsist in the best interest of the students who in reality are the only customers and they have every right to be treated like royalty.

Read Also: IPPIS is a scam – ASUU

Let’s borrow from the telecommunications sector. NITEL, the government telecommunications parastatal that held Nigerians to ransom for decades was in the market through its GSM arm, MTEL. Today, who uses MTEL? They have been chased out of the market through a fierce competition.

ASUU can be likened to MTEL; its high time market forces hounded them out of the student’s lives for good. No Nigerian institution is in the first 100 in the globe. None attracts foreign academics or students. None gets massive research grants from international donor foundations that have a deep interest in education. For how long will we continue like this?

We need to replicate the gains of the telecoms sector to education. Agreed, the school fees may be rather high for a while but let’s cast our minds back to when GSM lines first came out. They were very expensive. Today, it’s within the reach of a secondary school student. That is the same change we need in our educational system. The market forces will crash down the price of school fees. Even if it doesn’t do so, there will be the attraction of student loans, scholarships, grants, financial aid etc that will ensure that every indigent student gets a shot at having a sound education. After all, education doesn’t come cheap in the west where our rulers send their offspring and minions to but there aforementioned ways in subsidizing it are all there.

The government should stand its ground and resist every attempt by ASUU at emotional blackmail for the swift implementation of the IPPIS. For once, the students should be recognized as the real Kings and Queens.


  • Tony Ademiluyi, Lagos. 

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