ASUU, FG, WHY? Part 2

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. Again, due to the failure of government to review the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; approve funding to revitalize the university system; increase the budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26% among other demands led to another industrial action.

The strike was embarked upon on July 1, 2013 and called off on Tuesday, December 17, 2013. It lasted for five months and 15 days.

On August 17, 2017, ASUU again declared an indefinite strike over unresolved and contentious issues with the Federal Government.

The strike was called off in September. ASUU embarked on a three-month nationwide strike on November 4, 2018, due to the Federal Government’s inaction.

The strike was however suspended on the 7th of February 2019 after a meeting between the ASUU leadership and a government delegation led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who noted that the government had resolved the eight contentious issues that led to the strike.

In 2020 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 strike however lasted for over 9 months due to the pandemic and the unresponsiveness of the government to the academic body. It was eventually called off in December 2020, one of the longest strikes ever.

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So far in 2022, the union has been on strike for close to three months, despite several interventions from pressure groups, protests by students, the union and the government have yet to find a common ground.

This is as a result of the failure of the federal government to honour the terms of the agreement made with ASUU during the reign of Oby Esekwesili, the then Minister of Education.

It is no rocket science and there is no gain saying that if these politicians and policy makers have their kids and wards attending Nigerian universities, then things might have been different.

This assertion was further echoed by the convener of a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, Emmanuel Onwubiko, when speaking to the Punch Newspaper, noted that for the recurring industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end once and for all, politicians and government officials must be banned from sending their children and wards from schooling in private institutions and foreign jurisdictions.

Speaking further, he submitted that, “To think that the present government has eight years to address the matter and it has failed to do so in the last seven years is unthinkable.

The reason, however, is not farfetched; every now and then, politicians and government officials flaunt photos of the matriculation and the graduation of the children in first-class universities abroad, and a very few in private universities back home unaffected by the perennial industrial actions by ASUU and other unions in tertiary institutions.

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They do this to the chagrin of abandoned Nigerian students back home who are forced out of school and their stay of four or five years elongated to over seven years due to ASUU strikes.

“The National Assembly must be resolute and make laws banning politicians from sending their wards overseas for studies so that all hands can be on the deck to resolve ASUU lingering crisis. “Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb if ASUU strike is allowed to linger as there are connections between rising criminality and out-of-school students.

The government must make hay while the sun shines, our youths are sitting at home, and the adage, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop is still very valid, crime is on the high side, immoralities has become the order of the day among our youths, not forgetting that our educational system is gradually decaying, our universities are losing reputation in the continent, and in the world over.

A swift resolution is needed; the Federal Government and the aggrieved party must return to the negotiation table, they must find common grounds, to proffer solution to this monumental crisis, for the sake of our youths, who are the leaders of tomorrow, or we may have to live without a better tomorrow. PLEASE!!!!

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