Shem Ayuba Hosea
Academic Staff Union of Universities is a union of teachers in the universities in Nigeria founded in 1978. It succeeded the defunct Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965. It is a trade union which was set up to fight for the rights and welfare of her members.
It is the responsibility of the union to assist the stakeholders of the Nigerian university system in attaining the set classic standard of Education through the provision of quality education in the Nigerian university system. Further, the union strives to ensure adequate welfare and job security for her members and facilitate for them an enabling working environment.
‘ASUU strikes’ have become a familiar and disturbing refrain in the Nigerian body polity. They have probably become the gravest threat to the Nigerian university system, in particular, and the Nigerian education sector in general. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, ASUU had embarked on different numbers of nationwide strike.
1999 marked the year when Nigeria embraced democracy after years of military rule, but this didn’t stop the barrage of the ASUU strike. There was an ASUU strike shortly after the inauguration of the Obasanjo government. This strike went on for five months.
ASUU Strike of 2000 and in December 2002.The reason was that the Obasanjo-led federal government did not implement the agreement they made with the union. The strike actually lasted for two weeks.
The union’s strike of 2003 lasted for more than five months. This ASUU strike was because the government couldn’t implement some of the agreements it made with them. The fact that the university is not adequately funded and on low wages and pension pushed ASUU to strike.
In 2005, there was an ASUU strike that lasted fourteen days. This caused students to remain at home. 2006 ASUU had another strike that lasted seven days, after a warning strike of three days.
In March 2007, ASUU had another strike that lasted for more than two months due to the failure to implement earlier agreements.
ASUU strike of 2008 lasted for a week. The strike was cantered on fair wages and lecturers’ reinstatement. ASUU Strike of 2009, another ASUU strike occurred in 2007,which led to universities’ closure for more than three months. The strike began in early June and was called off in late October. This gave birth to a new agreement labelled ASUU/FG agreement of 2009.
2010 also brought a barrage of strike action by ASUU. This time the strike lasted for more than four months. The strike was between July to January 2011.Again, the university was closed in 2011. It lasted for more than a month. It started from December 2011 to February 2012.
There was another ASUU strike in 2013, which bordered on issues because of the age of retirement, university funding, and other salient demands. The strike lasted for five months and started in July, ending in December.
ASUU Strike of 2017, the union’s strike again occurred in August due to some unsolved matters with the government. It ended in September. It lasted for a month. ASUU also went on another indefinite strike in 2018 over the government’s inability to meet its demand. The strike was called off in February 2019.
Around March 2020, ASUU declared an indefinite strike over contentious issues like the refusal to join the IPPIS platform, poor university funding, and other matters.2022 ASUU strike is currently on going with various negotiations between ASUU and FGs .Students, NANS, has issued a one week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve its disagreement with the Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, or face a nationwide mass action by all Nigerian students.
Nigerian students and parents are at odds over who is to blame for ASUU strikes in Nigerian campuses, which are still occurring. While others blame the government’s relaxed posture and irresponsibility in educational matters, others blame ASUU’s radicalism, aggressive stance, and unquenchable need. According to the National Association of Universities Teachers (NAUT) 1978, previous ASUU strikes were triggered by the deterioration of university autonomy and academic freedom, poor remuneration framework and allowances, mismanagement of universities, low infrastructure in universities, and the failure to pay the elongated wages and allowances. Since 2003, the aforementioned causes have nearly always been at the heart of ASUU demand and the source of ASUU crises. The issue is: why has this need remained constant and unsatisfied for so long?
The university administration also exhibits dictatorial tendencies and mismanagement of funds, which leads to strike action. students always be at received end.
Most parents and students have lost interest in the educational system in Nigeria, as those who can afford education outside the country have started making moves towards it. Some soon to be parents have vowed that their children will not school in this system.
Some parents who has provided the basic amenities for their offsprings on campus will go through the stress of re-providing, as most student have consumed their resources, while some other perishables will perish as a result of the extension. Failure to re-provide on the part of the parents will result in the kids suffering during the remaining period of the semester should the strike be called off.
It has been proven that students perform less in examinations after returning from a strike period. Most student do not read during strike periods, while others tend to forget key points from lectures as a result of the long wait between lectures and examinations.
The rich who can afford private varsities sends their children there, where their academic calendar in unaffected, the poor who cannot afford it tends to spend more years on campus as a result of strike, this make the rich kids graduate before the poor kids and as a result of this be ahead in some aspects of life.
What then, is the way forward to end the lingering Issues of Federal Government and Academy staff union of universities?
On government, the should learn to keep the agreements they entered with workers. Government is a continuum, and an incumbent government should naturally see that it keeps to commitments made by its predecessors.
Government negotiators should put future government revenue projections into consideration before making future funding commitments to avoid default.
It is critical that the state and federal governments collaborate with ASUU at all levels in ensuring that the educational and economic crises, and government neglect to fulfil its commitments with ASUU professors, are addressed.
Assigning governing council members should be on the basis of merit, rather than on their ethnic or political affiliation.
A called to both ASUU and FG; Lets Save The Future of Nigerian Students.
Shem Ayuba Hosea
Writes from the Department of Mass Communication, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchi, Bauchi state.