The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned what it tagged “hasty generalisation, blanket condemnation, and ridiculing” of the country’s academia by a funding agency.
ASUU was reacting to an allegation by the director of research and development at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Salihu Bakari, that some lecturers in the country spend scholarships and grants to purchase houses and cars.
The director has also said he did not mean to disparage Nigerian scholars, saying he only referred “to instances of a few cases of diversion of grants by some beneficiaries of the agency’s scholarships and support”.
He said, as a mentee of very “many quality, honest and sincere scholars and researchers in the country, he can never bite the fingers that fed him.”
PREMIUM TIMES in its report on Tuesday titled; “Nigerian Scholars spend research grants on cars, houses” exclusively reported the director’s response to a question by one of the participants at a research conference organised by the agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on why conditions attached to accessing grants by TETfund are ‘too stringent’.
‘We will not take it’- ASUU
In a telephone interview with our reporter, the National President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said his union would not allow his members to be disparaged by any individual or institution before a global audience.
Mr Ogunyemi, a professor, said any attack on Nigerian lecturers by anyone would not go unchallenged.
He challenged the accuser to provide evidence of such claims and that his union would be ready “to join forces at exposing the rot in the system”.
He said; “We reject this hasty generalisation in its totality and we will fight it to the end. ASUU will react appropriately very soon but I can assure you that this will never go unchallenged.
“This kind of statement ridicules our members on the global scene and we cannot fold our arms when institutions or individuals bring us to disrepute. There are many of us who are managing many grants from global institutions and the results of their efforts have been wonderful and respected globally. What kind of image are we now creating? This is unacceptable and ASUU will not take it.”
Mr Ogunyemi said he would not deny the fact that “just like any other institution, there are the good, the bad and the ugly among the lecturers”, but that “the bad has never, and can never outnumber the good.”
“Academic institutions do not exist in a vacuum. They are extensions of the larger society, so it is not incorrect to say there are bad eggs, but that you categorise everyone to be bad is what we will never take. When our products move to the global scene, they excel and outshine their counterparts coming from backgrounds where teaching and learning environments are conducive. So if we are not doing well, would they have been doing well too?”
Mr Ogunyemi said his union was part of TETFund assessment processes conducted round the institutions, and that if the agency had discovered such large-scale fraud as claimed by the director, it should have brought it to its notice and not disparage “the whole people in such an embarrassing manner”.
“We are committed to sanitising not just the university system but the entire country, and we are not unaware of the general rot. But everyone knows that out of 100 individuals if five are bad, you cannot claim the whole 100 are bad. There must be clarity and contexts to every claim. ASUU will definitely respond to this because this news has gone viral, and it must be corrected,” he further said.