Over the decades threats of strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other sister unions are the bogeys that have continued to haunt our tertiary educational system.
They started in the 1970s, and yet, no regime has found a lasting solution to them.
The main cause of work stoppages is the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, reached between the Federal Government and the union in 2008 which was never implemented. After series of strikes which always ended with the FG giving assurances during the negotiations, ASUU went on one of its most protracted strikes in March 2020, just before the Coronavirus pandemic lock-downs.
The union eventually called off the strike in December 2021 after the unimplemented MOU was renamed Memorandum of Action, MOA.
It is now 14 months since, yet the Federal Government has only released N55 billion to partially address the issues of Earned Allowances and the Universities Revitalization.
The promise to deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, rather than the FG’s payroll system, the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System, IPPIS, to ensure academic freedom, has not been fully activated. ASUU is peeved that even the Earned Allowances, Universities Revitalization Funding and deployment of UTAS have not been satisfactorily implemented.
Very little has been done about the issue of poor funding of state universities, promotion arrears and others.
ASUU’s struggle is aimed at bringing the welfare of its members up to date with modern realities to foster staff commitment.
It also wants the universities to be upgraded in terms of facilities to rival their peers in other parts of the world where our ruling class and wealthy individuals send their children to enjoy sound education.
They want the Nigerian university system to be restored to enable it attract students from other parts of the world, which was the case in the 1960s and 1970s.
We see the ASUU struggle as the right cause, and we support it. The Nigerian ruling elite has not seen it fit to give the social sector – especially education and health – the utmost priority it deserves. This is because they have found ways of corruptly accessing public funds, enriching themselves and enjoying the educational and health services of other, more civilized countries.
The children of the middle class and the poor (of which those of ASUU are among) are left to languish in our decayed system from which they come out as unemployable products. We support the ASUU struggle, though we feel the pain of our children being made to stay away from their classrooms due to ASUU strikes.
We believe that ASUU demands can be met if government decides to go the extra mile to do so or, at least, produce a credible and actionable road-map.
The ASUU strike must be avoided at all cost.