ASUU President, Finally Speaks On NITDA Statement On UTAS

The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities – ASUU, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke while speaking to the media, accused NITDA of deliberately delaying and frustrating the process of the adoption of UTAS.

He said the union and NITDA agreed to meet on Monday March 28, but NITDA released its statement on Saturday when “we have not even finished the process”.

“We have not even finished the process. We have not finished for Monday, you have gone to the press. You have not reported back to the body that requested the testing,” he said in a telephone conversation.

Mr Osodeke added that the union declined to sign the document because NITDA refused to include some of the recommendations as “mere” recommendations, instead of tagging them as major in its report.

He said the testing conducted on UTAS by NITDA could be done in three days, but the government agency told ASUU they could only conduct the testing for three hours a day. “That too, excluding weekends.”

“When we got there we were told they can only meet with us from 2 o’clock in the afternoon. They said 2p.m to 4p.m or 2p.m to 5p.m, which is just three hours a day,” he said.

He added: “We raised the issue that if you know this thing is important, why can’t you spend two days and finish it? We didn’t know they had ulterior motives.

“If you look at the press release by them, they said it took two weeks, just to create the impression in public that it was done for long.”

Mr Osodeke further said that at the beginning of the process, ASUU requested a template used in the testing and how NITDA determines when UTAS pass or failed a test, but NITDA told them there was no any.

Mr Osodeke likened the situation to “examin(ing) a student and adjudging any score I like as pass or fail.”

“Does it make sense? You should set a standard. They say they don’t have a standard,” he said

He added: “For the first two days, we asked them to give us the template for testing so that we know at what level do you say this thing has passed and at what level do you say it failed?. What do we score to tell us that you have met the minimum, that we can move on to the next stage, but they say they don’t have it. Tell us the indices of critical importance. They say they don’t have any.”

According to Mr Osodeke, NITDA does not understand the peculiarities of the universities as one of the items it asked ASUU to remove from UTAS was its universality, which he noted makes it easier to include names of people with characters.

He said: “In creating the UTAS, we made it flexible such that if someone comes from China, his name can be captured, if someone comes from Israel, his name can be captured, when the person is Yoruba when you have small-small dots all over the name, it can be captured. But they said because of those ones it did not pass.

“We spent a long time arguing that a university is not a nigerian-based organisation only. It is universal, it has to be flexible. But they insisted that we should remove it and we should make it English alone. We told them to put it in writing that they are the one directing us to put it in English alone so that in future when we cannot capture somebody we will hold you responsible”.