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ASUU Criticizes Lack of Governing Councils and Autonomy Violations in Public Universities

ASUU Criticizes Lack of Governing Councils and Autonomy Violations in Public Universities May, 15 2024

ASUU Criticizes Lack of Governing Councils and Autonomy Violations in Public Universities

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has once again raised its voice, this time in strong protest against the continued absence of governing councils in Nigeria's public universities. During a recent National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, the ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, vehemently expressed how the lack of these councils is leading to widespread illegalities and the erosion of university autonomy. ASUU, known for its unyielding stance on educational matters, has made it clear that they will not back down until meaningful changes are instituted.

The Crux of the Issue

Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke wasted no time in shedding light on the critical ramifications of not having governing councils in place. Governing councils are meant to be the supervising and policy-making bodies in universities. Their continuous absence, according to ASUU, has paved the way for unauthorized actions and policies that are detrimental to the educational environment. Prof. Osodeke emphasized that the lack of these councils has brought about significant violations of the universities' autonomy, a key principle that ensures independent management and academic freedom.

During his address, Prof. Osodeke highlighted specific instances of illegal activities and corrupt practices that have emerged due to the absence of governing councils. He pointed out how the vacuum created has allowed for unauthorized financial dealings, contracts, and staff appointments, all of which undermine the integrity and smooth operation of the universities. The ASUU leader stated that such activities are not only illegal but also set a dangerous precedent for the nation's tertiary education sector.

Calls for Immediate Action

ASUU is not just pointing out the problem; they are calling for swift action from the federal and state governments to address these issues. The union has made a compelling plea to President Bola Tinubu's administration to begin the process of reviewing and signing the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiated draft agreement. This agreement, according to ASUU, represents a glimmer of hope and goodwill towards resolving the myriad issues plaguing the nation's public universities.

Prof. Osodeke criticized the federal government's apparent reluctance to engage in meaningful dialogue aimed at resolving the outstanding issues within the educational sector. He cited the dire living and working conditions that university staff and students endure daily. The ASUU President stressed that the union would continue to push for these critical changes to provide a better environment for learning and research in Nigerian universities.

Opposition to Current Government Policies

ASUU has also made its opposition clear regarding several current governmental policies affecting universities. One such policy is the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), which ASUU has consistently rejected. The union argues that the IPPIS infringes on the autonomy of universities by centralizing the payroll system, thereby removing the ability of universities to manage their own staff payments and related issues locally. ASUU believes this system is fraught with irregularities and has led to numerous payment issues for academic staff.

In addition, the ASUU President voiced strong objections to the National Universities Commission's (NUC) imposed Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standard (CCMAS). He emphasized that the university Senates, which are composed of seasoned academics, should be the entities responsible for managing and designing academic programs. The imposed CCMAS, according to ASUU, undermines the expertise and judgement of the university Senates.

Consequences of Autonomy Violations

The ongoing violations of university autonomy have far-reaching consequences for Nigeria's higher education sector. Prof. Osodeke enumerated the detrimental impacts, which include reduced academic freedom, stifled innovation, and a decline in the global competitiveness of Nigerian universities. He argued that the centralization of authority and decision-making processes are not in the best interest of educational institutions that thrive on independence and academic freedom.

The dissolution of governing councils by the federal government, replicated by various state governments, has particularly been a thorny issue for ASUU. Prof. Osodeke condemned these actions as illegal, noting that they strip universities of their ability to self-govern and make critical decisions tailored to their unique circumstances and needs. The union fears that such government interference might lead to an irreversible decline in academic standards and institutional integrity.

A Union Resolute in Advocacy

Despite the numerous challenges and setbacks, ASUU remains resolute in its advocacy for a better higher education system in Nigeria. The union has a long history of championing the cause of educational reform and improvement. Over the years, ASUU has engaged in prolonged strikes and negotiations with the government to press for improved funding, infrastructure development, and better working conditions for academic staff.

Prof. Osodeke reassured members that the union would not rest until the necessary changes are effected. He acknowledged the significant sacrifices made by academic staff and students alike in the pursuit of a better educational environment and promised that ASUU would continue to fight for their rights and the overall betterment of the Nigerian university system.

The Broader Impact

The issues raised by ASUU not only affect university staff but have a broad impact on the student population and the nation's future workforce. Poor learning and working conditions hinder the ability of students to fully engage in their education and deprive them of the quality education they deserve. Equally, academic staff working under poor conditions are unable to deliver their best, affecting teaching quality and research output.

Leadership within the education sector remains a focal point in the ongoing discourse. Governing councils, when effectively constituted and managed, provide the necessary oversight and strategic direction for universities. Their absence has been described as a systemic weakness that undermines the very foundations of the institutions they are meant to serve. Addressing this issue could significantly improve the governance and administration of public universities, thereby enhancing their contribution to national development.


The call for reinstating governing councils in public universities and addressing the violation of university autonomy is a clarion call for sustainable reform in Nigeria's higher education sector. ASUU's unwavering stance on these issues highlights the urgent need for the government to engage in meaningful dialogue and take concrete steps to resolve the challenges facing the sector. The outcome of these efforts will undoubtedly shape the future of Nigeria's public universities and their capacity to fulfill their mandate of providing quality education and contributing to national development.

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