University Management and Staff Unions in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges

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SA-eDUC JOURN AL Volume 3, Number 1, pp. 15-22

University management and staff unions in Nigeria: issues and challenges M. Olalekan Arikewuyo Institute of Education, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria. Abstract: This article examines the relationship between staff unions and the management of Nigerian universities at both government and institutional levels. It observes that unions within the system have often based their demands on adequate funding of the system, university autonomy and academic freedom, as well as salary and conditions of service. It also notes that high handedness, arbitrariness and corruption, on the part of university administration, are some of the causes of agitation in the system. It is therefore recommended that Nigerian universities need to be re-orientated in consonance with acceptable democratic and international standards. Appointment of people into Governing Councils must be based on merit and not on political or ethnic affiliation. There is also the need to fund the system effectively, so that the goals of university education can be realized. Staff unions must also show restraint in their demands and agitation. Introduction All over the world, universities are recognized as centres of excellence, where knowledge is not only acquired, but also disseminated to those who require it. They are formal institutions set up by the society to be centers of learning, rich ideas and ideals. In its strict sense, Benjamin (2001) is of the opinion that universities are ivory towers, where instruction is given and received without harassment and undue influence from the outside world. Thus, the universal idea of the university is a community of scholars, free to pursue knowledge without undue interference from any quarters (Banjo, 2001). In the same vein, Hannah (1998) postulates that universities are enterprises that produce and distribute a public good, which is knowledge. Salter (1983) agreed that knowledge production is the focus of universities and that the production of knowledge has always focused on teaching and research. Also Clarke and Edwards (1980) recognized the high level of respect and trust bestowed on the university system in this way: Universities have since their medieval beginnings, been founded to preserve the positive heritage of society. They are committed to promote society's corporate well being and advancement by refining the ability of its members to select reasons and understand by enquiring into and seeking to explain the development and function of man as part of the natural world and by acting as guide and critic in those areas which can be informed by a university's resources of knowledge and specialized skills. Therefore, the important role, which universities play in the society cannot be ignored. To this effect, Rotem and Glasman (1977), maintained that "the university is an institution which advances and diffuses consciousness for the entire society. Its output are critical factors for the maintenance and adaptive structures of the society". Citing the incident of violent ethnic conflict between the Ife and Modakeke communities in Osun State of Nigeria, when one of the country's biggest universities (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) had to harbour and protect thousands of people displaced by the fierce communal fighting, Ujomu (2001) asserted that universities, especially in Nigeria, have 15 SA-eDUC Vol. 3 (1) 15-22

undergone further evolution and have gained significance not only as a centre of freedom and truth, but also as a place of refuge and protection. Specifically, the goals of tertiary education (including university education) in Nigeria are: 1. Contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training; 2. Develop and culcate proper values for the survival of the individual and society; 3. Develop the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local...
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