By Hassan Zainab
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has taken it upon itself to embark on industrial strike actions any time they feel like sometimes without even following the union strike laws. Their strike actions are usually as a result of the federal government not responding to all their demands at the time they ask for it. We have realized that this body embarks on industrial strike annually.
ASUU strike started in 1999 during the time of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, and it lasted five months before it was called off. In 2001, they embarked on another strike action that lasted three months. They also embarked on strike in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2017 and the latest which is still ongoing (since 4th November, 2018 till date).We have come to realise that it has become a yearly basic affair for them.
They have made a lot of demands over the years and for which some have still not been given serious attention to, which is why they have resolved to constantly go on strike until the federal government shows more serious devotion to them and at least attend to their demands, even if not all at once. These demands include; 1. Funding for revitalization of the Nigerian universities- implementation of needs assessment report. 2. Poor funding of state universities. 3. Non-release of operational license of NUPEMCO- Nigerian Union Pension Management Committee. 4. Payment of fractions and non-payment of salaries. 5. Non-payment of Earned allowances. 6. Amendment of the pension retirement age of Academics on the Professional cadre from 65 to 70 years. 7. Reinstatement of prematurely dissolved governing council. 8. Removal of university staff schools from funding by the government. 9. Non implementation of the 2014 pension reform Act with respect to retired professors and their salaries.
It is disheartening that federal government does not give serious recognition to the educational sector of Nigeria, which to me is because most of their children study abroad and as such they feel they have little or no business at all with the consistent action of this body. This is wrong, because every Nigerian youth depends on these governments to change the educational sector to a better one so as to enable the smooth sailing of education in this country.
We are in a country where governments prioritize other issues more than the education, which is also supposed to be among their first priorities. Other countries place education with high standards because they are aware of its importance to the citizens. But in Nigeria, the reverse is the case as, they had rather use the money and idea of building a strong educational sector for campaign purposes or squandering on meaningless developmental projects. It is high time our governments realize that the annual striking of this body due to their failure to actualize their demands is jeopardizing the future of our youths as they are the ones directly affected by the actions from both parties.
A lot of Nigerian students who are supposed to be called graduates are still undergraduates because they have not convoked and their results have not been released due to the strike. Also, some of them are supposed to have moved to the next cadre but now they remain stuck in the same level. People end up spending five to six years on courses that are meant to last four years, which is as a result of the constant strike action. Parents are not left out in this issue, as they are also greatly affected in the sense that, some of them hustle seriously to get enough money to pay for their children’s up keep and they have already calculated the months or years remaining for their children to graduate.
But as strike commences, their calculation have been destroyed and they have already been put in distress due to too much thought on how and where to get more money to pay for an additional year. The students on the other hand, often get frustrated, some begin to lose interest in schooling, as for some ladies indulge in useless acts and end up pregnant and their lives becomes useless, while many give in to committing heinous crimes in the society like; armed robbery, kidnap or even street vandalism, which is all as a result of the strike not being called off in time.
Now my question is, for how long will ASUU continue embarking on industrial strike as a result of government’s failure to meet their recurrent demands? The bitter truth is, governments cannot always meet up the demands of ASUU because of other pressing issues in the country. But atleast, they should show more concern and priority to the academic sector in Nigeria rather than not being too remorseful over the issue, because it is part of their duty to cater to the needs of the people. If they had been meeting up their demands, then I believe the issue of ASUU continuously going on strike, would not have been as serious as it is today.
For the same body to have been embarking on industrial strike action for about 19 years now, then it shows their lack of interest and little commitment to the academic sector. If they are not so keen about developing the educational body, shouldn’t they atleast think of the parents who struggle to make their children better and as well, the youths whose future lies in the hands of government in terms of providing adequate and conducive learning and teaching atmosphere without obstruction for them through the continuous strike action of ASUU. I sincerely crave the indulgence of both parties to consider those who are directly affected by their stubborn decision so as to make the future a better one.
Zainab, is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), wrote from Zaria
Source Guardian Nigeria