By Aare Afe Babalola
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, was founded in 1978 principally to demand the rights of academic staff in Federal and state universities in the country. In the exercise of this mandate, the Union had never shied away from embarking on warning and indefinite strike actions or even acting as a watchdog against corruption by its members who hold key positions in its member institutions.
In July 2002 under the presidency of Dr. Oladipo Fashina, the Union petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, to investigate the management of the University of Ilorin for financial mismanagement and corruption. In May 2008, the Union embarked on a series of warning strikes to press a range of demands, including an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of 49 lecturers who were earlier dismissed.
In June 2009, the Union ordered its members in federal and state universities nationwide to proceed on an indefinite strike over disagreements with the Federal Government on an agreement it reached with the Union about two and a half years earlier.
On July 1, 2013, the Union embarked on another strike which lasted five months and 15 days. By the strike, the Union demanded adequate funding and the revitalisation of the public universities, as well as the payment of their earned allowance which was in arrears of N92 billion. One thing is certain: the Union has always been vocal in resisting whatever it perceives as injustice to its members, and has been at the forefront of the call for the revitalisation of public tertiary institutions.
It would be recalled that the proliferation of universities in Nigeria got the attention of the leadership of ASUU who lent a voice towards criticising what it referred to as ‘constituency projects’. The National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, had reportedly noted that: “Our position on that had been that the Federal Government is toying with the future of the society. They are turning universities into constituency projects where every village must have a higher institution; the purpose is not to have good universities and a good environment for academic excellence.
“Every politician wants to have a university in his village. This is not how a system is run. They are establishing a university of medical sciences and other specialised institutions; why not go and fund those old universities so that you can upgrade the faculty of medical sciences to professional standards, so that the Nigerian politician, including the President, who usually go outside the country for medical attention, will have their medical issues solved here.
“But we will not do that; rather, the Federal and state governments are busy establishing mushroom universities. It is very unfortunate. But as a union, we are also thinking of what we can do in the future to compel them to stop this. One of the things we did in the earlier agreement was that we agreed that the National Universities Commission, NUC, law should be reviewed to make it almost impossible for any governor or Federal Government to start a university without adequate preparation for funding for over 10 years. But till now, that resolution has not been implemented. What we are saying is that the law should be reviewed to give NUC power to ensure that before you can start a university, you have to show good evidence that you can fund the system.”
Truly, the establishment of universities by the Nigerian federal and state governments without a sustainable plan of adequate funding is one which calls for concern. To this end, one cannot but agree with the Union that the funding and upgrading of the old universities to international standards is a better call than merely establishing mushroom institutions which will, in the nearest future, suffer the same fate of neglect as the current institutions.
Public perception of the Union’s strike actions: No doubt, the Union has always embarked on warning and/or indefinite strike actions to press home their demands. Naturally, the Union’s strike actions have always fostered divergent opinions and reactions by those affected, directly or indirectly.
Government perceives the Union as being overly critical, and having a surreptitious ambition of portraying government as being unwilling to accord the country’s education system the financial attention it deserves. For the parents, they perceive the Union as constituting a major impediment to the academic growth of their children or wards, and perhaps constituting a delay in their reaping the fruits of their labours.
The students, especially the serious ones, perceive the Union as using them as a leverage and bargaining tools to achieve whatever their demands may be, and that the frequent interruptions in the academic calendar has constituted a clog in the realisation of their pursuits.
Some other reactions gathered from the comments of members of the society is that the incessant strikes by the Union has been an attempt to hoodwink the Federal Government into lining their pockets, and that the Union has majorly contributed to the rot in the nation’s education system. While for some others, the demands of the Union are legitimate, particularly against the backdrop of government’s ineptitude in maintaining the public tertiary institutions and paying the earned salaries and emoluments of the members of the Union.
Regardless of whatever perception is given to the Union’s strike actions, one thing is certain – everyone loses at the end of the day. In fact, Professor Christopher Imumolen of the Global Wealth University, Togo, reportedly noted that the current one-month strike is an “avoidable tragedy resulting from systemic failure and an injury consciously inflicted on the future of youths”.
Ít would be recalled that the #EndSARS campaign received its traction and widespread acceptance due to the simple fact that it coincided with the nine-month strike embarked upon by the Union at the time, thereby driving students who, otherwise should be in their classrooms, to the streets. Certainly, strike actions by ASUU is not one that should be taken lightly by the government.
The current strike action: The recent one-month strike action embarked upon by the Union was announced on Monday, February 14 in reaction to the failure of the government to meet the demands for the revitalisation of public universities, failure to pay earned academic allowances and the University Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS, promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, payments. It is also in reaction to the non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action earlier signed with the Federal Government.
The current strike action is a continuation of a nine-month strike that grounded academic activities in 2020 for the same reasons. This, therefore, calls to question whether the demands of the Union are being unreasonable or whether the government’s non-implementation of the executed Memorandum of Act is not borne out of a total disregard for the Union.
Regardless, I consider it imperative for the government to negotiate and immediately implement all negotiated terms with the Union. The government should not only listen to ASUU, it must be ready to live up to its end of the bargain. It is indeed said that where two elephants fight, the grass beneath their feet must suffer. Both the federal government and the Union must realise that the interest of students of the tertiary institutions is of paramount consideration at all times.
Rather than fighting to a standstill or continuing to be at loggerheads, all the stakeholders must resolve to settle the imbroglio. Following the commencement of the warning strike, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has resolved to block all Federal roads across Nigeria if government and ASUU fail to reach a compromise.
Certainly, there are certainly better ways of causing the parties to reach a compromise rather than worsening the situation by causing a standstill. Nevertheless, stakeholders must be willing to meet each other half-way, rather than sticking to their guns.
As Nelson Mandela once remarked: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. If, however, the quality of our tertiary education is marred by incessant strike actions, what hope lies for the Nigerian youths in changing the world?
You may like
Osodeke, ASUU President to deliver 14th Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture
The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities,( ASUU) Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke will on Friday February 3 deliver the 14th edition of the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture at Akin Deko Memorial Lecture Auditorium, University of Benin, Benin, Edo State.
Prof Osodeke will be speaking on the theme: State of Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Identifying Historical Issues and Misconceptions; Contemplating Solutions.
The lecture , an initiative of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) was instituted to honour one of its founders, Ralph Opara, a prolific writer, producer and broadcaster.
The NAS Capoon , Mr Abiola Owoaje in statement said over the years, the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture series has emerged as a veritable platform for interrogating topical national and global issues, for engendering and promoting good governance, accountability, democracy, citizens’ participation and economic development.
He disclosed that previous speakers of the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture include Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, a former President of ASUU, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dr. Sam Amadi, Mr. Femi Falana and Dr. Hussani Abdu.
According to Owoaje this year’s lecture focusing on tertiary education was borne out of the disturbing decadence that pervades Nigeria’s higher institutions.
He stated that as an organisation founded in a university campus that draws its membership strictly from the intellectual pool of university and polytechnic graduates, “we are worried that our higher institutions have lost significant value as citadels of learning due to poor funding, lack of infrastructure and adequate educational and recreation facilities, while becoming a breeding ground for gangsterism, violence and criminality.”
He pointed out that the lecture seeks to address the multifaceted problems in Nigeria’s higher institutions which includes infrastructural development, the scourge of cultism and the perennial indifference of the Nigerian government to the development of higher education in the country.
He disclosed that the event will be chaired by Prof. Temi Akporhonor (Dean, Post Graduate School, Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State) and the special guest discussants include Dr. Joan Oviawe Honourable Commissioner for Education, Edo State), Dr. Osagie Obayuwana (Former Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Edo State) and Prof. Samuel Ovenseri Aibueku (Former Director, Joint Universities Preliminary Examinations Board (JUPEB), University of Benin).
The event is expected to attract members of ASUU, university administrators including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Education Institutions (NASU), students of tertiary institutions, civil society organisations and the Media.
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SEADOGS, PYRATES CONFRATERNITY, ASH MONTANA DECK, CALLS FOR REFORMS IN EDUCATION
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, Ash Montana Deck, has advocated reforms and systemic changes in the educational sector in Nigeria, as this will help to achieve a secure, just and progressive society and future. It noted that the country should think outside the box to come up with an educational system and structure that is constructively and productively be forward looking in positioning us for the future and creating the kind of society we desire. It added that instead of adopting and or adapting systems from other climes, we come up with a home-grown hybrid educational system and policies suitable for our unique experience. This call was made during the programme, Panorama on Splash 106.7 FM, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in commemoration of the International Day of Education on 24th January, 2023.
The association reiterated that education is important for a viral society; and without education, there will be no civilisation and no development. Therefore, the government and all stakeholders should, as a matter of urgency, prioritise education for peace and sustainable development. While reacting to some of the problems of education in the state including the issue of out-of-school children, decline in educational development, and lack of interest for education by children and youths these days, the association opined that several factors may be attributed; including, inequality, poverty, insecurity, infrastructure decay, our eroding value systems, violence, and the rather retrogressive, obsolete educational system and policies that seem not to be positioning us to compete globally in the ever changing and emerging dynamics of the world. It appeals to the government and other policy makers to stop paying lip service in addressing the problems be-deviling education in Nigeria. Adding that there should be sincerity of purpose in policy thrust, promises made and their implementation. It added that corruption with its rippling effects is equally at the heart of the problems. Tackling corruption and corrupt practices will go a long way. The association further added that the government should do more to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living for families; provide social amenities for the people; provide and or improve infrastructures in schools.
The International Day of Education is celebrated globally every 24th January to emphasize the importance of education for global peace and sustainable development. Education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goal 4; education is a human right, a public good and a social responsibility and everyone is entitled to it, irrespective of age, gender, status, creed and any attachments. With inclusive, equitable quality education, lifelong opportunities can be created for all; individuals and society will develop, and the cycle of poverty will be broken (unesco.org). The global theme for this year’s celebration is: “To invest in people, prioritise education”. An idea that society will develop and progress when it invest in its people through their education. Still in line with the essence of the event and the theme of course, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) Ash Montana Deck, adopted the sub-theme: “Reinventing our educational system for a secure and progressive future”. This is contained in its call for educational reforms.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious and detribalised organisation whose aim is to promote a society that upholds human dignity, that
is just, humane and progressive, where no one is a victim of colour, race, gender, ethnic origin, belief, social status, creed or other
discriminatory factors of a similar nature through the use of advocacy and activism, investigative
research, education, public enlightenment,
and litigation to resist, wherever and whenever
such may occur. It is registered with the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Corperate Affairs Commission.
Ash Montana Deck
ASUU to hold emergency meeting tomorrow over suspension of strike
ABUJA-THE striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, will convene emergency National Executive Council, NEC meeting on Thursday, to review recent developments, especially the positive response from the federal government to its demands.
Preparatory to the meeting expected to take place at its headquarters in Abuja,the union has directed its zonal branches to collate the views of members through vote during the meetings expected to hold tomorrow in its various zones across the country.
The outcome of the meeting would result in suspension of the strike on late Thursday or Friday morning.
This came as report had emerge in the social media space earlier on Tuesday, claiming that the union had called off the almost 8-month old strike and subsequently directed members to resume academic activities on October 17.
ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, while responding to enquiry to that effect, dismissed the report, saying the strike was yet to be suspended.
He, however,said the union was working towards the suspension of the action, saying the action would be dependent on the views of members from the zonal meetings.
The latest action of the lecturers’union came following the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The Speaker had on Monday,after a meeting with ASUU president and other members,assured that the strike would be suspended very soon, saying his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the union’s action was fruitful.
Earlier,human rights lawyer and counsel to ASUU,Femi Falana,SAN, had also said the union would soon call off its nearly eight-month old strike.
2 years ago
12 CNN Lekki Posers (For critical thinkers)
2 years ago
The message behind Carpe diem by Olamide
2 years ago
US Based Entertainment Magnate, Deji Bello Hosts IwoLand Top Men At His Nashville Home
2 years ago
How Fulani herdsmen ruined my farm in Osun State – Babatunde
2 years ago
Oluwo Of Iwo’s Vehicle Stolen in Lagos Hotel
2 years ago
RE: The truth behind Sanwo-Olu’s proposed cancellation of pension pay to Tinubu, Fashola and Ambode
2 years ago
Itel Debuts its Latest “More stylish than ever” S Series Smartphones S16 and S16 Pro in Nigerian Market
2 years ago
Martify Celebrates Grand Opening of Second Outlet in Alimosho