VICE-CHANCELLOR of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has identified stable academic calender as a sure means through which universities in Nigeria can rank best in the African continent.
He made this known to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos against the backdrop of incessant strikes by labour unions in the nation’s university system.
The Vice-Chancellor harped on the need for everyone, especially the key stakeholders in the education sector to look inward to ensure that crisis which gives rise to strikes are managed effectively.
“I make bold to say that universities, especially the first generation institutions in the country, can be ranked best in Africa if we can have a stable academic calendar.
“There is need for everyone to look inward and manage the crisis in the system effectively so that our university system can be ranked among the best in the world,’’ he said.
Ogundipe however charged the Nigerian government to take the running of universities and other related issues seriously, stating that, “If you want to run a university, you should go all out and do it in line with the best practices.
“We are talking about the global ranking of universities, and here we are still grappling with the issues of strike.’’
The VC pointed out that such development do not speak well about the country as “lots of people around the world are reading and taking note of it’’.
He explained that most of the facilities that would guarantee conducive teaching and learning environment were being handled by non-academic (support) staff that were on strike.
Ogundipe added that with the industrial action, their academic staff counterparts and others were now forced to adjust to the situation as “the strike has affected the operations of the university indirectly’’.
He further disclosed that issues of power and water supply, the use of laboratory and others have taken their toll on the operations of the university.
His words, “I am sure that the academic staff will be up to their assignments.
“This group of staff is not on strike; the classrooms are open, lectures are going on since the inception of NASU strike.
“Even, as we resumed on Dec. 27, lectures have started in most faculties in Unilag.
“The non-teaching staff has their grievances; the strike is a national strike and not a local one.
“To this effect, there is little the university authorities can do,’’ the Vice-Chancellor said.
It would be recalled that the unions, under the aegis of JAC, had on September 11 declared an indefinite strike across all the federal universities over the non-implementation of an agreement they entered into in 2009 with the Federal Government.
The strike was suspended while dialogue continues between the parties, only to embark on another strike on December 5.
The National President of JAC, Mr Solomon Ugwoke, who doubles as the President of SSANU, one of the striking unions, had declared that there was no going back on the strike.