Nothing Is Outrageous Wrong In ASUU Demands – Lecturer
A Senior Lecturer at the Accounting Department of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Dr. Uche Uwaleke, speaks with AKEEM LASISI on how he has been keeping himself engaged as the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities lingers.
Using you as an example, what is the feeling of the average lecturer about the protracted ASUU strike?
The academic staff of Nasarawa State University voted to identify with the struggle to revitalize the university system in the country. It is often said that he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. Authors of some commentaries I have read on the ASUU strike don’t seem to appreciate the enormity of the challenges currently facing universities and indeed tertiary education in Nigeria.
Those who work in the University, especially the academic staff, are in a better position to appreciate these challenges, among which are inadequate facilities, whether it is lecture halls or hostels or libraries or laboratories. Lecturers have been working under very harsh conditions. So, the issue is more about providing a conducive environment for teaching and research than what the lecturer takes home.
The implementation of the 2009 agreement with the government will go a long way in ameliorating the current sub-optimal condition of learning, which is why ASUU is on strike. There is nothing ‘impossible’ or ‘outrageous’ in the patriotic demands of ASUU – when you consider the fact that attention to education (in terms of percentage of budgetary allocation) is getting better even in poorer countries.
What have you been doing in the past four months the schools have been on the forced holiday?
Well, you rightly described it as ‘forced holiday’. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed but nobody seems to be enjoying this one. Students are the worst hit. But then, it is a sacrifice we all have to make for the future of education in this country. Parents should advise their children and wards to make positive use of the ‘forced holidays’. By the same token, any lecturer worth his/her salt will use this period for personal research. You know a lecturer is engaged to teach, research and undertake community development.
In a sense, though the strike has been a total one, which shuts out any academic activity in the system, lecturers are also working when they undertake research because the output of such will ultimately rub-off on his/her primary assignment. So, I have actually been busy trying to put some materials together and praying – like many well-meaning Nigerians, that the government will do the needful and bring the ‘forced holidays’ to an end.
We understand you recently published a new book on capital market. What is the focus and what was your experience while publishing it?
I have actually written or co-authored nine textbooks in corporate finance and business economics. The most recent, “Contemporary Issues in Capital Market Studies”, was published in 2012 and was well received. By the grace of God, another co-authored book on “Insight into the Nigerian Capital Market” will be out before the end of 2013.
It takes me between one and two years to write and publish a well-researched book. The longest has been my work on “Managerial Economics”, co-authored with my wife (also a lecturer and a graduate of Economics Education) and published in 2011, which took about three years. The fact remains that the Internet has greatly reduced the ‘gestation period’ of research outputs.
I wouldn’t say I have had any regrets with any of my publications. This is because I use reputable publishers in Nigeria, with good track records. Publishers require sufficient time to do a thorough work. So, I allow them adequate time ranging from four to six months. Within this period, several corrections are made and the dummy is generated in its final form ready for mass production.
Some people have argued that we don’t seem to be having highly and widely acclaimed books coming from Nigerian academics generally any more. Books that can also break into prominence internationally. Why is this so? Is government still responsible for this?
I do not agree that we do not have “widely and highly acclaimed books coming from Nigerian academics.” I just mentioned that my books are also read in Ghana. I also know some of my colleagues whose publications are making waves on the international scene. I agree that the scale can be stepped up.
In the field of finance and economics, for example, one could say that the Indians have taken the lead among emerging economies since their books are widely read here in Nigeria and elsewhere. That is partly because of the enabling environment which has been provided for research in India, where a significant amount of the budget goes to education.
Nigerian academics have the capacity to break into prominence internationally – if only the environment is made conducive. And that is why we are saying that the government has a major role to play in ensuring this, beginning with the full implementation of the well- articulated 2009 agreement it reached with ASUU concerning the revitalization of the education sector in Nigeria.
As I have noted, my works have been well received by the academic community and the industry partly due to the very unique areas they address.
For example, my book on “Capital Market Studies”, published last year, is currently out of print. The first production run was 3,000 copies. The marketing strategy includes donating copies to educational institutions’ libraries in Nigeria and Ghana and have them order more copies subsequently.