ASUU president under fire for calling state universities ‘quacks’

by Chimamanda
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The president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Emmanuel Osodeke, has been heavily criticized for referring to other universities that announced the resumption despite the union’s ongoing strike as “quacks”.

Responding to questions from Arise Television on Thursday about the impact of the Nigerian government’s “No Job, No Pay” rule on universities and whether it is responsible for some universities’ decision to call off the strike, Professor Osodeke said that the universities that withdrew from the strike are not members of their union.

He said: “When you provide data, look at the bottom line. Kwara State University is not a member of ASUU, Osun State University was suspended for his behavior, you can check. LASU, you mentioned. We are in court with LASU because they fired all of our executives five years ago to not be part of this fight and the government of Ekiti State University has the right to say that we have reopened just like Gombe State University, Yobe, and Kaduna State. University.

“Then don’t cite those examples as they are irrelevant. Talk about it, is the University of Ibadan on strike? Is the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) on strike? Is Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) on strike? Is Bayero Kano University (BUK) on strike? Are the University of Maiduguri and the University of Lagos on strike? Let’s talk about real universities, not those charlatans.”

The ASUU president’s comment has drawn backlash among Nigerians, including university scholars and Nigerian scholars.

University responds

For example, the leadership of Ekiti State University (EKSU) has responded to Mr. Osodeke, rejecting his categorization among ‘quack’ universities, even as he described the comments as “totally unacceptable and reprehensible”.

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The university, therefore, demanded a retraction and an apology from the president.

“Management calls on Professor Osodeke to follow the path of honor by retracting the provocative comment and offering an unreserved apology without further delay,” its Director of Information and Corporate Affairs, Bode Olofinmuagun, said in a statement.

The statement noted that the university viewed the comments as “demeaning, unfortunate, reckless and unwarranted.”

The statement further noted that EKSU is currently the 14th best university in Nigeria and the 2nd best state government-owned university, according to the recent Webometric university ranking.

He added that the university has almost all of its academic programs accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and relevant professional regulatory bodies.

The statement further said: “The university is proud to have many world-renowned, top-tier academics, and its alumni are causing a sensation both nationally and internationally. By the grace of God, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, Governor Elect of Ekiti State, is a student and former professor at the university. Even at ASUU, a number of our university staff have served and continue to serve in various capacities at the zonal and national levels, including but not limited to Professor Afolabi Popoola, Dr. Sikiru Eniola, and Profs. Eddy Olanipekun, Ayan Adeleke and Olu-Olu Olufayo.

“Therefore, categorizing EKSU as one of the talkative and irrelevant colleges is a testament to the fact that the president of ASUU is likely to be uninformed and/or lacking in ideas. This arrogant nonsense coming from Comrade Osodeke is totally unacceptable and reprehensible.”

Other reactions

A Nigerian commentator, Yusuf Usman, noted that Osodeke has betrayed the essence of quality leadership by making ‘irresponsible’ statements “about a section of the electorate that has placed him in the leadership seat”.

He said it is wrong for Mr. Osodeke, the president of a union that prides itself on being an association of intellectuals, to refer to the universities whose staff members elected him as “quack” universities.

He added that the ASUU president’s comments represent a betrayal of trust “and he must either prove his charges against these universities with facts and figures or publicly offer an unqualified apology for his inflammatory, indecent and baseless tirade.”

Another Nigerian academic from Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State, Dagari, noted that it is a shame to hear such a statement from the ASUU president on live TV.

He described the comments as an insult at the highest level and said Osodeke “has gone down in history as the worst national president of the ASUU.”

Mr. Dagari added that the president of ASUU should not be allowed to preside over the proceedings of the union’s upcoming National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.

He said: “Now it is very clear, the confused professor does not have the qualities required to lead the union of intellectuals.”

“At long last, the man (Mr. Osodeke) has told the world the official status of state universities. ASUU should now stop blaming Buhari, Ngige, Adamu Adamu, and others for the prolonged ASUU-FGN standoff.”

Background

Since the start of the current ASUU strike on February 14, the government has adopted a ‘no work, no pay’ rule, saying the law does not say striking workers must be paid for work not done. .

However, ASUU has been adamant that all of its demands must be met before any of its members, including those from state universities, call off the strike.

However, following threats to withdraw grants from state universities by state governors, some institutions, including Kaduna State University and Ekiti State University, called off the strike.

While state governments say ASUU’s dispute is with the federal government, the union said they have a break with state governments that don’t fund their universities. They accused state governments of letting institutions feed solely on funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and described them as “TETFund universities”.

Part of ASUU’s demand is an end to what it described as the proliferation of universities, describing these new universities as “constituency projects.”

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter for Premium Times in partnership with a report to the world connecting local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on hidden topics around the world

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