The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), was accused by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday of participating in corruption in the nation’s tertiary education system.
This occurred on the same day that Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said that President Buhari had approved the report on the House’s involvement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), regarding ways to end the union’s current strike.
The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), two organizations that compete with ASUU, have been registered by the federal government, apparently in an effort to split up the striking ASUU members.
But in a swift response, ASUU denied President Buhari’s accusations and underlined that the government’s registration of two new trade unions for academic staff in the university system is irrelevant and does not constitute a threat to ASUU’s survival.
President Buhari made the charge regarding corruption in universities during his speech at the fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, which was organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB, and held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The President also charged professors with using covert terminology to maintain corruption in ivory towers, a development he claimed hindered the fight against the threat in the educational field.
Additionally, he demanded that stakeholders and the media shine their spotlights on the management of tertiary institutions for not being transparent in how Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is spent.
He said: “Incessant strikes, especially by unions in the tertiary education, often imply that government is grossly under-funding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.
“Government and stakeholders in the educational sector are concerned about the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector. I am aware that students in our universities, for example, use different terminologies to describe different forms of corruption they experience on our campuses.
“There is sorting or cash for marks/grades, sex for marks, sex for grade alterations, examination malpractice, and so on.
“Sexual harassment has assumed an alarming proportion. Other forms of corruption include payroll padding or ghost workers, lecturers taking up full-time appointments in more than one academic institution, including private institutions, lecturers writing seminar papers, projects and dissertations for students for a fee, and admission racketeering, to mention only the most glaring corrupt practices.”
However, the President praised the ICPC for its thoroughness in looking into and prosecuting sexual harassment as a form of power abuse in the nation’s educational institutions.
“Government will continue to fund education within realistically available revenue while urging stakeholders, including the media to equally advocate transparency in the amount generated as internally generated revenue by educational institutions and how such funds are expended.
“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions,’’ Buhari noted.
He urged stakeholders to demand transparency in the management of academic institutions and unions to question their institutions’ bloated payrolls and ongoing expenses. Additionally, he pleaded with the unions to cooperate with the government in order to give names on the payroll faces and identities.