Universities Fees Hike: Tell Audu Bulama Bukarti to Calm Down

There have been hikes in fees in universities over the last few months. We had it at the Federal University Dutse, University of Maiduguri, Federal University Lokoja, etc. It has become obvious that FG is not willing to fund the overhead of the public universities. The respective university councils have to generate more money from the students to fund their overhead.

However, the recently released fee schedule from the Bayero University Kano (BUK) got several reactions. It was like everyone was sleeping despite the warning from ASUU. I was surprised that they are surprised with the fee hikes. What were they expecting after the celebrated "failed 8 months ASUU strike" that revolves around university funding? Give the withheld 8 months salary to the universities for overheads?

The reality of fee hikes suddenly woke them up. The northern elites suddenly found their voice. It is now they are realizing that the effect of the fee hikes will be more on northerners. They are calling for ASUU to strike. Audu Bulama Bukarti, a former lecturer at BUK and now a PhD student at a UK university wrote an interesting piece in Hausa that got me laughed very hard.

The reasons why ASUU was on strike were very clear and have been written on. Revitalization and proper funding of the universities top the list of demands. Some ASUU members were not even happy that welfare is not topping the list of the demands like the demands of other unions. The union has always insisted that the fulfillment of an academic is not just in take-home pay but the quality of the work environment for better service delivery for nation-building. ASUU, before declaring any strike, would have consulted, lobbied, had a series of meetings, appealed, and given several ultimatums. Failure to get anything from all behind the scene steps always leads to a unanimous strike declaration by the congresses of the various branches. Not the ASUU president nor the Board of Trustees can stop the strike once we are at that point.

The likes of Bukarti, who was an activist in BUK MSS that participated in the 2011 subsidy protest, sit in their comfort to blame ASUU and not the government that has starved the public universities of funds to make them better. They pretend not to be aware of the state of education in Nigeria. Bukarti once proposed that instead of the strike, ASUU members should teach in the morning and protest in the afternoon. He believes that the government that brutally contained 8 months strike will listen to afternoon protests.

Bukarti, a few months ago, was condemning the ASUU strike on university revitalization and renegotiation of conditions of service. His present stand is that an ASUU strike is never in students' interest. Who is ASUU asking FG to revitalize the universities for? For my father that is over 90 years old? Now that the fee increment has gotten to his doorstep, the BUK, Bukarti wants ASUU to declare a strike on fee hikes to confirm that ASUU is truly fighting for students. What an intelligent man.

You are against the ASUU protest strike for proper funding of the universities. You are in support of the government that is deliberately starving the public universities of funds and celebrated the supposed failure of the ASUU strike. Now you are angry with fee hikes. If the government won't fund the universities and students shouldn't pay, where do you expect BUK and the other universities to get money from? That tree behind the Senate building? This is common sense. Just like Bukarti's advice to ASUU, I was expecting him as a former student activist to advise the students to do lectures in the morning and protest the fee hike in the afternoon. As Steven Wright rightly stated: “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak”.

The universities need funds to keep running. It is obvious that since FG refused to fund these universities and we support FG against ASUU, the burden of the funding will go to students. The university must pay that bill.

Sometimes I underestimate our narrow-mindedness. I know most of us live by the moment but I didn't know it was this bad. We always look at issues from our perceived narrow-minded immediate impact. We lack the power to analyze the future implications. You find supposed educated people as victims of this. Those who are abroad on a funded education are also victims of this narrow-mindedness.


During the ASUU strike, there were comments from people whose standard of life is below that of an average academic that tuition should be introduced if it will end the ASUU strike. Those whose PhDs were funded abroad with FG funds were also advocating for tuition in Nigerian public universities. ASUU was the bad guy that must be crushed. Now it is just an increase in the charges of some university services, no tuition yet, and they are already shedding tears. Please, reserve your tears, you will need it later.

The same energy was expended on subsidy removal. The same advocates of subsidy removal, a few months ago, are presently crying about the current effect of its removal on the majority of Nigerians whose lifestyles are not subsidized by the government. As educated and exposed as they are, they could not project the implication.

If we must make progress, we need to work on our emotional intelligence and narrow-mindedness.

Please tell the likes of Bukarti to calm down and save their tears. This is just the beginning of what they are advocating for and the effect of the celebrated "failed ASUU strike". They should save their tears for what is coming up. Big universities like ABU receive about N150 million naira per annum as overhead from FG to run the university. BUK is most likely receiving less.

The recent increment is just to augment the static funds from FG for overhead despite inflation. They are still cooking the tertiary institutions' tuition meal. The meal will be done in a bit. The electricity tariff is going up and the FG budgeted funds for overhead can't pay only the electricity bill for one year. Inflation is on the high side. A rim of A4 paper that used to cost N700 is now about N3,500. Subsidy removal and naira devaluation will increase the cost of running the university.

ASUU as a union is still against fee hikes and the FG proposed tuition. ASUU still believes that the Federal Government of Nigeria can comfortably fund education if the subsidy on the lifestyle of the political office holders is removed. The deployment of a better resource management system will free the cash to fund education.

Bukarti promised to help pay the fees of some students and encourages others with the means to do the same. This is a defeatist ideology and not enough. Since ASUU has supposedly "failed", the likes of Bukari that are against fee hikes can pick up the fight on behalf of the students.

Meanwhile, there was an agitation during the ASUU strike that the lecturers on strike should be sacked and replaced from the pool of unemployed graduates in the labour market. Huda University Gusau, one of the private universities approved by the ex-president Buhari, Adamu Adamu, and Prof. Rasheed a few weeks ago, is looking for PhD holders with 7 years post qualification experience in teaching and research in a University system. They also want the candidates to have a track record of outstanding research with a minimum of 15 publications. They want to employ such candidates as Senior Lecturers  Unlike universities abroad that gladly state the salary to be paid, salary is not mentioned. Please tell those in that pool that would have replaced us if FG had sacked us to go to Gusau (Huda University) with the above CV to be employed as Senior Lecturers.

Dear Lord! Grant brightness of sincerity to the mirror of their heart, Cleanse the rust of hypocrisy from the tablet of their heart, and show the path of virtue and salvation to the helpless wanderers in the mazes of bewilderment, error, and confusion. Endow them with the nobleness and generosity of character. Expel the legions of ignorance from the realms of their heart; implant the divine hosts of knowledge and wisdom in their stead.

 Eid Mubarak!


Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik

Copyright © Amoka 29/06/2023

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