British Journal of Education (BJE)

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university enterprise

Unions, Government and the University Enterprise in Nigeria (Published)

Permit me to broach this topic with an analogy. A roof is leaking. It needs repairs. Though it sits resplendently on top of a building, it leaks badly inside when the rain falls. In order to get to the top to fix the leakages, one would think naturally, that the mender would fetch a ladder and climb the structure. But this mender is different. He gets a sledge hammer instead and takes down the building to enable him fix the roof! This analogy exemplifies the toxic nature of the subject and the urgency of approach required to conjure a symphony between the unions in our universities today and the gentry (government and university management). The over-charged, over-unionized polity of Nigerian public universities has become a cause for concern, especially as it has begun to affect the quality of teaching, research and community services. Placed side-by-side with the lackadaisical approach of government to the educational sector, it has become evident that new byways needed to be tried out to preempt the imminent and total collapse of this sector. In this work, we shall examine the causes, effects and management of industrial disputes in our universities, and the historical, economic and political nuances involved in the incessant disputes. In other words, we shall carve our positions on the causes of strike, the effects of strikes and the possible alternatives to strikes in Nigerian public universities. The objective of the study is not to apportion blames but to expose the factors which had greatly contributed to the weakening of our HEIs and had forged a corrosive effect on our universities such that the culture of scholarship is being gradually sidetracked and mediocrity being glamourized. Our universities have no place in international rankings, and our graduates who are turned out in multitudes, could no longer said to be competitive in the global market. Stop-gap measures to address challenges could no longer serve the purpose of propping and rejuvenating the Nigerian educational sector especially, in public universities where every rupture has signified a culmination of gradual rust from the primary and secondary sectors of our education. Most of these universities are becoming factories where black-market options with little or no employable skills are mass-produced on a regular basis. Examination malpractices, incessant strikes, cult activities and poor work ethics are fast becoming ‘the new normal,’ which calls for urgent efforts to address quality concerns. This zeal to recover, rediscover and recalibrate the public universities in Nigeria is a project in irredentism that should be executed with all seriousness required so as to rescue the system from near-extinction and launch it back to global reckoning.

Keywords: Government, Nigeria, unions, university enterprise

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