Advancing since 2012 - 2020

National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT)

The philosophical bent of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT, formally ASUTON) from inception is on the basis of moderation. Throughout her existence, the Union has not been associated with radicalism or to hold extreme ideological views or stated positions – not at branch, national or international levels. The Union, starting from the pioneer leadership approached trade union matters and pursuits in even-tempered but steady manner. This approach is acknowledged by the managements of Universities and governments including ministries, departments and agencies (MDA) of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). This is demonstrably so because NAAT, for some historical reasons or guided providence does not generally embark on strike actions perfunctorily, but has not lost out in derivable benefits from negotiations in collective bargaining. The point being made here is amplified by the statement written by Professor Nimi Briggs, the 5th Vice-Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt  (2000 – 2005), on page 240 of his book; “Turning the Tide” regarding NAAT’s (read ASUTON’s) approach to unionism:

more about us

Comr. (Hon) Ibeji Nwokoma JP, fnli.


Our Duties and Responsibilities

 in Academic Departments

Moments to Remember in the Evolution of the Union

The founding of NAAT was not without difficulties, sacrifices, deprivations and some hilarious moments particularly in the early days.

  • A major problem encountered at the founding of NAAT was poor communication services. The telephone system was virtually non-existent. To relate with colleagues in other universities was either by physical contact or radio messages. The radio room was usually located at the Vice-Chancellor’s office. It sometimes took days for the message to reach the intended end because someone had to take the message to the person desired who may also need to go back to the Vice-chancellor’s office to talk to the originator of the message at the other end at agreed time.
  • All the contacts made in those early days were by road often originating from Ilorin in the North-central zone through Ibadan, Ife and Lagos in the West, across to Nsukka in the East with Mrs. Falaiye and team linking from the Northern Zone. For the reason that the Mr. Femi Oyetunji, the pioneer PRO’s car was used for much of the road trips, it was nick-named the “ASUTON LINE”.
  • At the very early stage of ASUTON evolution, the trips by the pioneer leaders were funded from contributions by the University of Ilorin members.
  • As much as possible, certain things were done at the expense of members’ convenience to minimize expenditure and conserve the very limited resources available. A case in point was an intended visit to University of Abuja which was aborted because after visiting NUC the team could not locate the University

Know more about Academic Technologists


Membership of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) revolves around the professions and practices of science and technology. An understanding of the terms science and technology shall situate the interrelationship between them, the place of the technologist in the world of science and technology and also provides basis for correcting the wrong impressions and perceptions of the job functions of technologists. Attempt is made at laying bare the common characteristics of various specializations of academic technologists, their duties and responsibilities and the differences from other often misunderstood, workplace terminologies such as laboratory technicians, supervisors, assistants etc. Some basis, particularly in Nigeria, for conclusiveness that the technologists’ essence and relevance in the science and technology world is generally misunderstood and need to be made evident.

Wrong Perceptions of the Academic Technologist

It is not unusual for people working in the laboratory to be grouped and identified as technologists, technicians, supervisors, assistants or even attendants. The mistakes in nomenclature can be traced to the early populates of laboratory workforce by junior cadre personnel largely on apprenticeship status prior to the coming on stream of those trained on-the-job and certified after some stages of part-time instructions in such education centers as the City and Guilds of London Institute, leading up to technologists that were trained in polytechnics, colleges of technology and universities.

There are some historical occurrences, statements and actions by some persons that are indicative of misunderstanding of the technologist as a profession, training, job functions and even status in an establishment.  These wrong impressions, as can be seen, are not limited to an individual, particular group of persons, professions, ranks, status, stations in life or levels of education. Examples presented, not in any particular order, are true and real situations but are here, strictly illustrative; thus the identities of the persons or institutions involved are deliberately left out because exposing them will not add value to the veracity and usefulness of the information provided.

A lecturer with PhD in Analytical Chemistry employed in the 1970s to teach Analytical Chemistry to year III students of Science Laboratory Technology in a College of Technology in Nigeria elected to replace teaching of some topics in analytical techniques such as Spectroscopy, Gas Chromatography (GC), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) etc. with traditional methods of food processing, cassava-processing technology, local palm oil production etc. This is in the wrong belief that science technologists should learn only local industry production processes representing soft and casual contribution to Analytical Chemistry and science; not minding that Analytical Chemistry and Science Laboratory Technology apply to everything around us including: pharmaceutical industry, food and beverages, consumer products, environmental monitoring and control, materials development, and oil and gas testing. Others are: analytical instruments industry, education and training, government agencies, automotive industry, agriculture, mineralogy and geological, oceanography, forensic studies, energy studies, atmospheric studies, radiochemical analysis, biotechnology, textiles, space exploration, herbal medicine and health supplements etc. In many departments and units of some establishments, technologists are the least to be considered for allocation of office accommodation. This stems from the erroneous belief by some persons that technologists are practical workers in laboratories, workshops and studios and do not engage in other aspects of professional administrative and professional duties requiring office space. The technologists, aware of their responsibility for laboratory practical work, management of work tools/equipment and personnel under them, and trained to work independently have often resisted attempts by mostly heads of academic departments of tertiary institutions to appoint laboratory coordinators of persons who are not certified technologists to oversee their operations particularly in the practical classes. Following the approval of the Vice-Chancellor of a university for field trips allowance, as accepted by the Federal Government in negotiated agreement, to be paid to technologists in the university, the University Bursar resisted payment on grounds that technologists involved require permission of the Head of Department. He later approved payment when the technologists argued that field trip is an inherent component of their duties but will require the approval of the Head of Department only if the trip is outside the university town and will require the university to pay for his/her transportation, local runs, accommodation and feeding for the duration of the trip. A Head of Department of an academic department of a university prevented a technologist from continuing with a research effort for production of absolute ethanol from local gin if only to be used for general laboratory experiments to save cost. This research endeavor was approved and funded by the predecessor in office, but was stopped for the erroneous reason that, according to him, a technologist is not required or allowed to carry out research projects. The management of a Federal University cancelled the payment of academic allowances negotiated and approved by the Federal Government for the reason that technologists are not academic staff and should not earn academic allowances. The Management further directed that what was paid earlier be recovered subsequently. When the authorities refused to rescind the decision following sustained protests by the technologists, they sued the management at a Federal High court. Realizing that the case was going against it, the management was forced to settle the matter out of court with the payment of the academic allowances to technologists restored. During a discussion on retirement of university technologists at 65 years old, a member of the Agreement Implementation Committee representing the federal legislature, in a meeting held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) Abuja, stated that no one should expect a 65 year old man to climb electric pole or be official driver. Obviously, the elected National Assembly member associated the technologists with climbing of electric poles and such elementary duties. To achieve a mischievous end, a professor of Analytical Chemistry and Head of Department of Chemistry sent out a memorandum to ‘laboratory technicians’ for notice of meeting with the laboratory technologists in his department. The technologists refused to attend the meeting for being wrongly and maliciously designated.

The misconceptions as narrated above may not have occurred if the meanings and interrelationship of science, technology and associated terminologies such as technicians, laboratory supervisors, assistants etc. are well understood and appreciated.

Science and Technology

Science is the ability to produce solutions in some problem domain (or skill), field of study, discipline, and department or branch of scientific knowledge. Technology, simply put, is the practical application of science to commerce and industry. According to the Arcus dictionary, a scientist is a person with advanced knowledge of one or more sciences. On the other hand, a technologist is a person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems using techniques or practical methods or art applied to some particular task. Put differently, explains that science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of explanations and predictions about nature and the universe. Technology, on the other hand, is the collection of techniques, methods and processes used in the production of goods and services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation, or any other consumer demands. Linked with human efficiency, technology is the systematic application of manufacturing methods and industrial arts to enhance efficiency in human activities. It can simply be described as the result of man’s efforts to do things more efficiently and effectively, (Anyifite 2007:117- 119)


Technology is older than science because it began in prehistoric times, but advanced rapidly after the industrial revolution which began only in the 18th Century. On the other hand, the scientific method which is based on the principle of observation and experiments was developed by the Greeks and Romans from about 600 B.C. and is still the basis of science today, (The Dorling Kindersley Children’s Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1991: 471 and 524).


Shaibu, 1973:132 stated that the term science cannot be used in isolation without associating it with technology. The interrelationship between science and technology is underscored by the fact that science may drive technological development by generating demand for new instruments to address a scientific question or by illustrating technical possibilities previously unconsidered. In turn, technology may drive scientific investigation by creating demand for technological improvements that can only be produced through research and by raising questions about the underlying principles that a new technology relies on.

How Academic Technologists Evolved

Technologists in the universities and other tertiary institutions are employed and deployed according to their disciplines and specializations. Thus, the services of technologists are utilized majorly in science-based departments. In effect, there are as many specializations of the technologists in higher education system as there are academic departments and units. For example, in engineering there are departments of electrical, mechanical, civil, petroleum, agricultural engineering etc.; in medical/veterinary medicine there are departments of physiology, pathology, parasitology, anatomy etc.; in the sciences there are departments of chemistry, physics, microbiology, zoology, botany, geology etc.  Obviously, the term “academic technologist” is central to the higher education technologists and immediately identifies the technologists in academic areas, highlight their distinctive and common characteristics and therefore properly situate their job functions and occupation. Also, the term will be in line with the delineation of the technologists in the Nigerian Civil Service as Agricultural Technologist, Fisheries Technologist, Forest Technologists, Produce/Pest Control Technologist, Dental Technologist, Medical Technologist etc.


Disturbed that there was no common terminology for technologists in academic departments of universities and anxious to be appropriately designated, the then Association of University Technologists of Nigeria (ASUTON) approached the National Universities Commission (NUC) by the letter dated 16th May 1995 requesting for designation of her members as academic technologists. NUC declined approval of the request, through their letter Ref. No. NUC/AP/35 dated 18th August 1995, for the reason that the technologists, by their functions in academic departments, are academic support staff. The technologists were not deterred by the NUC position.


The fact that the technologists work in academic departments as professionals and collaborate with professional scientists, engineers etc. in teaching and research was taken into cognizance in the approval by the Federal Government of Nigeria, for payment of all academic allowances to technologists. These allowances included: research, books/journals, examination supervision, learned society, hazard, excess workload, field trip/ Students Industrial Work Experience (SIWES) etc. The registration process of the group as a trade union in 2006 through 2007 provided another opportunity for introducing the desirable by ensuring that the term “academic technologist” is accommodated in the name of the new trade union. The reasons adduced in support of the decision were articulated in the various submissions to the Registrar of Trade Unions and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity; the position was also canvassed in university stakeholders’ conferences and in collective bargaining with the Federal Government for improved conditions of service.


The technologists argued that the job functions of the university technologist place him squarely in the realm of academics. What is clearly incorrect is that the term “academic” is or should be the exclusive preserve of a particular profession or qualifications; it is an occupation or line of work. Put illustratively, the professional engineer who works in an oil producing company or a manufacturing company, no matter the quality of his/her degree or level of education cannot claim in classical sense to be an academic. This also applies to the professional engineer who, though works in the university or other tertiary institutions, but is not engaged in teaching and research in academic departments or units. However, if this same engineer is involved in teaching and research in academic departments, there is no doubt that he is an academic or put differently in academics; this narrative also applies to science and technology professionals.


NAAT members work only in academic departments and units of universities and other tertiary institutions. The technologists’ duties and responsibilities including laboratory teaching and research in science-based programmes place him/her in academics as an occupation. However, it is not unusual for workers who are not professionals but are in similar work situations as the technologists to be considered favorably for such benefits and compensations in negotiated agreements as, for example, the hazard allowance and earned academic allowances etc. as their technologists’ counterparts.


What is not generally known in Nigeria is that there is no group of laboratory workers presently designated as laboratory technicians in core academic departments of tertiary institutions – if the term exists, it is not common. You are either a scientist/technologist in senior staff category or other junior designations in the following defined progression order: Laboratory Attendant, Head Laboratory Attendant, Laboratory Assistant, Senior Laboratory Assistant, Laboratory Supervisor and Senior Laboratory Supervisor.


This distinctiveness removes the blurriness that exists in some countries like Canada, United States of America, and Germany etc. where technologists and technicians are used interchangeably but are different in import. A simple search for the term Technicians in Nigeria reveals numerous employment positions in industry with designations such as:  Electrical Automobile Technician, Mechanical Support Technician, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technician, Dark Room Technician, Wheel Alignment and Balancing Technician, Cooperative Technician, Store Technician, Automation Technician, Printing Technician, Seismic Vibration Technician, Solar Technician, Nail Technician etc. Qualifications required for these groups of technicians include the trade tests, School Certificate and/or years of relevant work experiences. The practices are not as strictly regulated by statutory professional bodies for technicians infields as Medical Laboratory, Dental Health, Anesthetics, Radiography and Pharmacy Technicians etc.


Despite the distinctiveness alluded to above, some persons still cannot distinguish between technologists and technicians. Technician and technologist are two different terms. Most people think that these terms mean the same, buta closer look reveals that they are different in many aspects. A technician and a technologist differ in their educational levels and responsibilities. A technologist will have a science/technology or engineering degree or equivalent, whereas a technician will have a lower degree, or some kind of lower diploma certificate. Generally, a technician’s course will last for one or two years, whereas a technologist will undergo a course that lasts for four to five years in addition to professional certifications. A technologist has a greater role than a technician. A technician is just a person with practical understanding of the job.


A technician has a general knowledge of the principles of the field he is in, whereas a technologist is a person who is completely aware of various technologies and a good knowledge of the principles of the field. A technician works under a technologist. A technologist has a wider range of duties when compared to a technician. He is the team leader, with duties that include research, analyzing, designing, conducting studies, resolving problems, interpreting situations, evaluating situations, developing prototypes and guiding the technicians. On the other hand, a technician is the person who is involved with duties like maintenance, repairs and trouble shooting. A major difference also is that a technologist is solely responsible for innovative ideas and a technician is responsible for the application of those ideas. Unlike technicians, technologists handle most of the more complex work.

Advancing since inception






Laboratory teaching

Zonal Coordinators

Comr. Olurinde O. Joseph

(Zonal Coordinator SW)

Comr. Dr. Aliyu Hamza

(Zonal Coordinator NC)

Comr. Mbaoji Emma C

(Zonal Coordinator SE)

Comr. Yohanna Samaila A

(Zonal Coordinator NE)

Comr. Alexander Oko

(Zonal Coordinator SS)

Comr.Khadijat Abubakar

(Zonal Coordinator NW)

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