The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has protested the discriminatory salary structure between the staff of research and allied institutions and lecturers in Nigerian universities.
It has also called on the National Assembly to increase the retirement age of research directors in research and allied institutions from 65 to 70 years as is obtainable in universities.
The secretary-general of ASURI, Dr Theophilus Ndubuaku, who spoke with newsmen in Abuja, lamented that Nigeria is still backward in terms of development when compared with its contemporaries in the world, owing to the deliberate neglect of researchers as well as research institutions and colleges.
He said since the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in Nigeria, successive administrations have failed to give adequate attention to the funding of research and allied institutions across the country.
Ndubuaku noted that research institutions have been confronted with the serious challenge of brain-brain, because of this disparity in the salary structure of staff in research and allied institutions, explaining that as soon as most researchers get their Ph.Ds, they leave the research institute sector to the universities.
“Whereas the Conditions of Service for Federal Research Institutes, Colleges of Agriculture and Allied Institutions (COS) states in Chapter 4:1 that ‘The salary structure of the Research Institutions/Colleges of Agriculture shall not be inferior to the prevailing salary structure of or equivalent to University Academic Staff Scale or any specialised tertiary institution’, yet nothing has changed,” he said.
While urging the National Assembly to ensure expeditious amendment and passage of the Agricultural Research Council Amendment Bill 2016, he noted that the bill, if passed into law, has the capacity to correct the distressing matter of disparity in salary structure and the retirement age of researchers.
Ndubuaku said that the union had also articulated some of these concerns in its memorandum presented to the House of Representatives’ public hearing on the Agricultural Research Council Amendment Bill.
He said: “The major challenge of brain drain is the matter of the retirement age of researchers. That is why at least one-third of all African researchers were living and working abroad in 2009.
“Judges retire at 70. Research professors retire at 70 years, whereas research directors in research institutes retire at 65 years. Research institutes under universities but supervised by Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) retire at 70 years, while those not under universities retire at 65. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” he said.