By International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
In the part -three of our Public Information on the smokescreen nature of the 2009 Agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria as per solutions to the failed higher education in the country and how less than 5% of Nigeria’s estimated population of 170 million corner and pocket annually close to 80% of the country’s public finances through scandalous allowances and overheads, we concluded that part by pointing out the inability of the Nigerian citizens to access tertiary education in the country owing to inadequate number of higher institutions, awkward education policies by regulatory agencies and prohibitive running costs of government that take chunk of resources off educational development in the country. That only 297 higher education institutions are left to serve 170 million people of Nigeria is a clear sign of monumental failure of higher education in the country. That the 297 higher institutions including 124 accredited universities cannot boast of at least 10 million student population owing to their manual and unscientific guidelines and methods of tutorship makes the country’s tertiary education not only archaic, but also an opponent of modern educational innovations.
The United States, for instance, has 5,758 degree awarding institutions for her 313 million people. Brazil has 2,368 higher institutions for her 192 million people. Japan has 918 universities for her 127.6 million people. Philippine has 2,080 higher institutions for her 92.3 million people. Vietnam has 146 universities for her 87.8 million people. Ethiopia has 141 universities for her 84.3 million people. South Korea has 432 higher institutions for her 48.5 million people and Taiwan has 173 universities including 9 security universities for her 23.4 million people. While Nigeria, with an estimated population of 170 million people has only 124 accredited universities and 173 other higher institutions.
The UK Open University-an internationally rated distance learning provider and one of the best 500 universities in the world, has a total student population of 193, 835 as at 2012. It is followed by the University of London with its colleges, which has a total student population of 128, 580 as at 2012. In Nigeria, the total student population of the 124 accredited universities is not up to 1.5 million and the entire student population of the 297 higher institutions in the country is not up to 3 million. Out of 20.3 million students in the USA universities alone as at 2010, 14, 6 million enrolled full time and 5, 6 million studied through part-time and distance learning.
Nigeria’s higher education institutions are also highly parasitic and scientifically under-developed. Other than exorbitant school fees, government subventions and loans, they will crumble. Corruption and loss of values have become a serious challenge threatening the corporate integrity of the country’s higher institutions. Award of honorary degrees is now pegged for the highest bidders and given to celebrated generators of violence and public corruption in the country. In the United States, as at 2006, 765 colleges and universities had combined endowment assets of $340Billion, out of which, Harvard University had $29Billion(Intersociety 2012). There are 120 full research universities in the USA using their rich libraries and laboratories to find solutions to social problems, but in Nigeria, none of the 297 higher institutions is socio-scientific research oriented.
Apart from the fact that laws setting up the three main regulatory agencies for the 297 higher education institutions in Nigeria such as the NUC Act of 1974 for 124 accredited universities, NCCE Act of 1989 for 50 colleges of education and NABTE Act of 1977 for 97 polytechnics and 26 monotechnics, are obsolete and out of tune with modern international higher education regulatory requirements, the managements of the three main regulatory agencies are led by BBC scholars; that is to say professors and doctors born before computer age. Because of arrogance and pride, these BBC professors and doctors refused to learn computer and its immeasurable values and cultures. As a result, they have become resistant to computer age education resources. The only infantile efforts they made to beat “compuphobia” so as to remain relevant among their international colleagues was to hire fresh computers graduates, diploma holders and under-graduates as personal assistants for the purposes of opening and maintenance of electronic mails as well as contributing to electronic journals and researches nationally and internationally.
A good number of Nigerian academic scholars at professorial and doctoral cadre are still computer illiterate. Three, if not four out of every five of them cannot make a presentation or deliver lectures using power-point and excel technologies. Most of the 297 higher education institutions in Nigeria still use pen and paper, chalk and manual board mounted under trees, in shanties and prison-like block apartments with their students swelling and smelling like Christmas Goats and refugees.
There is no accurate data for tertiary institutions’ student population in Nigeria and the student data for individual higher institution is very unreliable. Electronic resources for higher education in Nigeria are near absent. The only university in the country that is computer and electronic friendly is the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), modeled after the UK, Hong Kong and India Open Universities, yet its feat is being frustrated by the BBC professors and doctors at the NUC, who belong to the age of typewriter. Recently, a department in a federal polytechnic in the Southeast Nigeria went wild in celebration over its successful experiment in electronic exams, whereas NOUN has successfully used it for four years only for the BBC professorial and doctorial peopled NUC to command it to revert to pen and paper.
In the Catholic Regis University of USA, built in 1877, for instance, all the modern electronic education resources and international network access are in place despite the university’s ancient age. A professor or doctorate degree holder, who teaches in the university, can be a student in another department (i.e. computer and ICT program). A number of their professors teach in the university through distance access remedial resources such as power-point powered by internet access. One of the University’s professors who lives in Indonesia teaches her students from her country’s base using e-education technology. Through this means, 20,000 students can have access to two professors no matter their locations on earth. In Nigeria, this is the secret behind the successful and historic production of first Nigerian powered criminologists and security experts by NOUN in 2012. Career criminologists are very few in Nigeria, but through e-education resources, their seminal works were made available to the concerned students. This is a major challenge facing many Nigerian universities that wish to run such an important program owing to mounting security challenges in the country.
It is our recommendation that the Federal and State Ministries of Education should conduct advanced computer and ICT tests on all lecturers in their higher institutions, starting from graduate assistants to full time and contract professors and those without computer and ICT literacy should be enrolled to study and acquire same mandatorily. We also recommend as a matter of firmness and urgency that all the executive secretaries of NUC, NCCE and NABTE should be sacked and their entire managements overhauled and re-peopled with computer and ICT compliant scholars. The NUC Act of 1974, NCCE Act of 1989 and NABTE Act of 1977, which are the typewriter ageenactments should be overhauled and brought in tune with modern international higher education policies and guidelines. Suspension of part-time programs by NUC in 2012 should not only be lifted but also e-education resources including distance learning should be made a policy with merit-based and incorruptible guidelines.
At NOUN, corruption index is at its lowest ebb and to pass exams in the university, course materials must be studied back and front. In its e-exams, exams hours are not only strictly regulated by the computer under the watchful eyes of invigilators, but students’ marks are instantly graded. This gives no rooms for sorting, award of fictitious marks for a fee or for a pant and sexual harassment, violence and student-lecturer cultism. One fundamental way to address the brain drain syndrome in Nigeria is by institutionalizing electronic education resources in the country’s higher education system. The think home philosophy for Nigeria’s tens of thousands of academic scholars teaching in overseas including between 25,000 and 30, 000 or more Nigerian academic scholars in the United States will begin with this noble approach. Through internet powered e-education resources, they can easily teach their country home students without needing to be coming home always, except in a while for purposes of practical, research, etc. It is also cheaper, qualitative, less risky and convenient.
More higher education institutions including universities are not only direly and urgently needed in Nigeria, but also multi-national and multi-billionaire indigenous companies like Shell, Agip, Chevron, GLO, MTN, NNPC, Dangote, etc, should give Nigerians more universities at affordable prices and qualities, as part of their social responsibility obligations to Nigerian citizens. Both Federal and States’ Governments in Nigeria should drastically review and upgrade criteria for membership of higher institutions’ governing councils. Apart from making professors and holders of doctorate degrees heads of governing councils, other members must possess at least first university degrees or their equivalents. Professionals, not career politicians, should head such governing councils and membership of such councils should no longer be used as political settlements.
To effectively manage incessant industrial disputes in Nigeria, all the basic salaries of the leaders and members of the industrial unions capable of downing tools in the country, should be left intact subject to their statutory reviews. But all the allowances with whatever names so attached or called, should be reviewed, aggregated and codified. In the circumstance, we recommend for forensic review of all the allowances presently demandable and payable in respect of all the public industrial unions including ASUU, ASUP, SSANU, NLC, TUC, NMA, NUT and so on. Such review will take into account need to remove ones that are over-bloated and frivolous. The remaining payable allowances after such forensic review should be cut by 30% as a sacrifice to save our economy and resources for the capital development of our higher education. The idea of codification of these allowances with their review periods is to prevent frivolities and proliferation of allowances by demanding industrial unions. Government must honour its obligations with respect to terms so contained and demand maximum outputs from the beneficiaries.
We also strongly recommend that the basic salaries of the 17,500 top public office holders in Nigeria should be left intact. This is because the problem does not lie on salaries but allowances and overheads, which are scandalous and criminal. It is our firm recommendation that all the allowances paid annually to these 17,500 milky Nigerians should be holistically reviewed with a view to removing those found irrelevant such as newspaper allowance of N1.24 Million, hardship allowance of N1.2Million, wardrope allowance of N621, 000, recess allowance of N248, 000, accommodation allowance of N4, 96Million (there is already furniture allowance of N7, 45Million), domestic staff allowance of N868,000(there is already personal assistance allowance of N621,000), entertainment allowance of N828,000 and vehicle maintenance allowance of N1,86Million( there is already motor vehicle allowance of N9,93Million).These categories of irrelevant allowances are basically enjoyed by each of the 469 federal lawmakers in Nigeria and they are extended with minor modifications to others included in the list of the said 17,500 milky Nigerians.
We further recommend that the remaining allowances should be cut by at least 50% so as to save resources for the adequate provision and maintenance of social services including adequate funding of our tertiary education. Nigeria’s 3,500 kilometers of railways are in shambles. The 8,600 kilometers of the country’s inland waterways are not properly developed and policed; her 22 airports are not only too small for 170 million people, but also below international standards. The 34,120 kilometers of federal roads are death trap, likewise the 36 States’ 34, 300 kilometers and the 776 LGAs’ 129, 580 kilometers of roads. The 50% cut in the said allowances will fetch the Nigeria over N275Billion from 12,788 LGAs’ executives and councilors’ allowances, N136Billion from about 2,664 States’ executives, N27Billion from 469 federal lawmakers, N45Billion from about 472 federal executives,N18Billion from 1, 152 States’ lawmakers,N8Billion from 792 States’ judges and N6,5Billion from 142 federal judges, totaling N516Billion a year.
While security votes should be restricted to the president and governors with drastic downward review, such allocation to heads of all top public offices other than governors and the president should be abolished and prohibited by law. The estimated over 35,000 personal assistants working for the said 17,500 milky Nigerians should be trimmed down by 50% with only president, deputy president, governors, deputy governors, senate president, deputy senate president, speaker of the House of Reps and his deputy, Chief Justice of the Federation, the Appeal Court President and Chief Judges of States, FCT and Federal High Courts allowed maximum of three personal assistants other than their constitutionally recognized aides. The scandalous and criminal overhead expenditures in Nigeria should be cut by 50% as well.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Chairman of the Board
Comrade Justus Ijeoma,
Head, Publicity Desk