ASUU, FG, WHY? (Part 1)

It’s been four months now, four months of non academic activities in our public higher institution of learning, four months of our youths wasting away precious time doing nothing, four months of our leaders reminding us of how the future and betterment of our youths mean less to them, four months of further exposing our failed educational system to the world.

This is as a result of the recent strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to drive home their demands to the federal Government for a better working environment as well as a lift in their livelihood.

This exercise has been a recurrence in our nation since the emergence of the new democracy, and it has done more harm than good to the growth of our dear nation.

Poor financial investment has generally been seen as the plague of Nigerian education system so much so that budgeting allocation has been very low compared to other sectors.

This consistent strike has lots of effect on the society as a whole, the society affected by this Strike can be stream lined to the Workers, the consumers and the nation as a whole and the general public image.

For example the recent ASUU strike has a lot of socio-psychological effect on the student, the parent, the nation, the lecturer and the educational sector itself. The outcome of this effect has always been in the negative.

Though many speculations have arise when researches are being carried out either through media, group discussion or organized research that, the University Lecturers have lots of positive effect being attached to the strike, their main cry has been centred around increased allowances for project supervision, call duty, extra hours worked and hazards etc, Payment of salaries and entitlements for the several months in which they didn’t work, development of infrastructures, and a better working conditions.

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You recall that the union initially embarked on a two-week warning strike, in March 2020, over the failure of the Federal Government to implement its 2019 agreement and resolution with the union.

The striking lecturers’ demands include, funding of the revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears, the strike however lasted for over 9 months due to the pandemic and the unresponsiveness of the government to the academic body.

Deborah Tolu Kolawole of the Punch Newspaper writes that, “strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the failure of the government in finding lasting solutions to the protracted crises have continued to destroy the university system in Nigeria”.

Speaking further, she opined that Since ASUU’s first strike in 1988 when it protested against the extremities of the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida which led to the banning of the group on August 7, 1988, ASUU strikes in Nigeria have been so repeated over the years that they have come to be recognised as a yearly event, a time when academic activities stall and public universities go on forced break.

In 1999, ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike due to the failure of negotiations between the union and the Federal Government over the working conditions in Nigerian universities.

This was shortly after the Obasanjo-Atiku administration was sworn in, the strike however lasted for five months.

In 2001, the union again embarked on another strike over the reinstatement of 49 lecturers sacked at the University of Ilorin.

The tension was however heightened when the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo described Nigerian university lecturers as “a bunch of lazy and ungrateful people” The strike was called off after three months.

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In December 2002, the union embarked on a two-week strike because of the failure of the Obasanjo administration to implement an agreement it had with the union during the previous strike.

In 2003, public universities in Nigeria were shut down for six months as ASUU embarked on another strike due to the non-implementation of previous agreements, which covered poor university funding and disparity in salary and retirement age.

In the year 2005, Nigerian students witnessed another disruption when the university lecturers stayed off campuses for two weeks.

In April 2006, a three-day warning strike which eventually lasted for one week crippled academic activities in public universities.

The union again embarked on another strike on March 26, 2007; a strike which lasted for three months.

The issue of reinstatement of the 49 lecturers who were sacked from the University of Ilorin came up again in 2008 when the union decided to embark on strike.

The union also demanded an improved salary scheme. The strike lasted for one week

In 2009, following an industrial action that lasted for four months, the government of the late President, Umaru Musa Yaradu’a signed an agreement with the union.

The agreement which is popularly referred to as the FG/ASUU 2009 Memorandum of Action was signed before the union agreed to call off its strike.

The failure of the government to implement the 2009 agreement subsequently became the base of subsequent strikes over the following years.

Due to the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Action that was agreed with the union in 2009, ASUU embarked on another indefinite strike that lasted for over five months. The strike started on 22 July 2010 and was called off in January 2011.

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ASUU again moved to paralyse academic activities nationwide in December 2011, because of the 2009 agreement and the failure of the Federal Government to adequately fund universities in the country and implement the 70-year retirement age limit for university lecturers members, the strike lasted for 59 days and was called off in 2012.

To be continued…

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