The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says no fewer than 100,000 lecturers were needed to beef-up academic activities in the nation’s public universities.

The union’s president, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, made the declaration in Lagos on Thursday in response to worries being expressed by stakeholders on the dearth of academic staff in the country’s tertiary institutions.

He said going by the report of the 2012 NEEDS assessment survey sponsored by the Federal Government, there were 37,504 academics in the public university system, whereas 70,000 lecturers were needed at that time to serve the universities.

“From available records, the system had 37,504 academics during the 2012 NEEDS assessment of universities sponsored by the Federal Government.

“This is grossly inadequate as the system is in need of 100,000 personnel for academic workforce.

“Out of the 37,504 lecturers in the system as at 2012, only 40 per cent of them had PhDs.

“Today, we have more universities and this means that to actualise the mandate given to them (universities) and remain relevant, the system will need not less than 100,000 lecturers,’’ he said.

According to him, the development is worrisome and calls for concern as it is a major threat to government’s quest for national transformation and development.

“This is one thing we, as members of ASUU, have been engaging successive governments about.

“Today, we have less than 40,000 lecturers in the entire university system, which is grossly inadequate.

“There has not been provision for enough manpower over the years in tertiary institutions,’’ he stressed.

The unionist recalled that at a time, the National Universities Commission (NUC) announced an estimate of 60,000 lecturers needed for the university sector alone.

He said that as at that period, the country had less than 20,000 lecturers in the system.

“This is made worse today with the proliferation of private universities.

“The demand is more than what the requirement was, four years back,’’ Ogunyemi said.

He stressed that the union was not against the establishment of more universities, but in doing so, “there is need to ensure that proper feasibility studies were carried out and requirements met before establishing them.’’

Ogunyemi recalled that when the union started engaging the Federal Government on some of the challenges noticed in the system in 1992, one of the main issues was on how to tackle brain drain.

According to him, brain drain is still a major concern.

Ogunyemi noted that the poor operational environment had frustrated most scholars out of the system.

“There are issues of inadequate facilities for cutting edge research and teaching as well as poor funding to carry out such projects.

“In the 1980s, we lost many of our tested hands from Nigeria to other foreign universities, including neighbouring Ghana.

“Our lecturers left massively because they wanted to excel.

“The opportunity for them to excel was not within as their major concern, as professionals, is to ensure that they contribute to knowledge and the only way to achieve this is through cutting edge experimental research,’’ he said.

The ASUU boss also identified poor remuneration as part of the issues affecting the system, adding that it had made the profession unattractive, thereby making it difficult to retain even upcoming scholars.

“We found out that at some point, academics were not only poorly paid, but were given pay packages that could not take them home.

“Lecturers are like other professionals. In those days, many industries came to universities to source for their workforce because of the confidence they had in the system.

“The brilliant scholars, we had then, would rather choose to remain in the system to contribute to knowledge rather than go to these industries.

“But with the turn of events, they were leaving in their numbers for greener pasture,’’ he said.

Ogunyemi also cited policy somersault as part of the issues militating against academic workforce in the institutions.

Author: Cerebral Lemon