The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Quite exasperating and yet desolating to see academic activities crippled once again by the stiff-necked Academic Staff Union of Universities who constantly play safe and blame everything on the Federal Government.
Whether or not ASUU is being influenced by an unseen power who has an interest in stirring hatred against every ruling government to direct focus on self to gratify its desire to rent Aso Rock, no one knows.
But the truth everyone knows or everyone was made to believe is Federal Government is the sole reason behind the ASUU’s strike.
Notwithstanding, whoever it may be, it is essential to note that the masses’ sons and daughters who are students of these respective universities are at the detriment of it all.
Aishat Buhari, Femi Gbajabiamila and a mountain of others have proven that the sons and daughters of the rich-few and the politicians will never be affected since they don’t study here, in Nigeria. This culminated in why academic activities was left unruffled for over nine months; three months now and still counting.
Undeniably, students’ academic morales have been comatose for over three months and with the high pedestal where FG is taking the matter and the insistence of ASUU, it doesn’t seem the strike will end any time soon. Both FG and ASUU have contributed to raising indolent out of agility and non-intelligence out of intelligence. This is not farfetched as nigerian society will be greatly affected.
Economists knew the secret to growing a surviving economy of a nation when they said it lies in its Education. Before the heydays of China, Nigeria now was greater than its typical period of hardships and economic cataclysm.
Then, China did a lot of things to catapult itself to the world’s leading country with influence in almost millions of countries in the world. One of the things china did was to fund their youth to study in Europe. In short, China funded the Education of their youth and paid adequate attention to it.
It is noteworthy that the study is not for them to stay in Europe but to learn technology, skills and needed mechanisms to help their nation, grow.
After many years of learning, many of them came back to put into practice what they have learnt. This was in those days in china when we buy their China-made phones, etc. When they made those phones, they just experimented to test the brains of their best.
Now from China phones to Android versions of Huawei products and many more. Today, in the discussion of the economy, China can never be relegated.
It is sad to say but when a nation that keeps buying than selling also has a castrated education, it is a letter to an unproductive future.
China engaged in a transfer technology scheme through education to catapult its country to its current heyday. But here in Nigeria, we are subjected to an international brain drain and a consistent ASUU strike that usually sponsors all these brain drains.
The bitter truth is, for years ASUU has been going on strike since 1988—16 strikes now plus the ongoing—only President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure has the highest ASUU strike records.
According to a post published by the Punch in May 2022; ASUU, 1999 first embarked on a nationwide strike due to the failure of negotiations between the union and the Federal Government over the working conditions in Nigerian universities. This was shortly after the Obasanjo-Atiku administration was sworn in, The strike however lasted for five months. This strike will be the first longest and the second, in ASUU strikes.
In 2001, the union again embarked on another strike over the reinstatement of 49 lecturers sacked at the University of Ilorin.
The tension was however heightened when the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo described Nigerian university lecturers as “a bunch of lazy and ungrateful people” The strike was called off after three months.
In December 2002, the union embarked on a two-week strike because of the failure of the Obasanjo administration to implement an agreement it had with the union during the previous strike.
In 2003, public universities in Nigeria were shut down for six months as ASUU embarked on another strike due to the non-implementation of previous agreements, which covered poor university funding and disparity in salary and retirement age.
In the year 2005, Nigerian students witnessed another disruption when the university lecturers stayed off campuses for two weeks.
In April 2006, a three-day warning strike which eventually lasted for one week crippled academic activities in public universities.
The union again embarked on another strike on March 26, 2007; a strike which lasted for three months.
The issue of reinstatement of the 49 lecturers who were sacked from the University of Ilorin came up again in 2008 when the union decided to embark on strike. The union also demanded an improved salary scheme. The strike lasted for one week
In 2009, following an industrial action that lasted for four months, the government of the late President, Umaru Musa Yaradu’a signed an agreement with the union. The agreement which is popularly referred to as the FG/ASUU 2009 Memorandum of Action was signed before the union agreed to call off its strike.
The failure of the government to implement the 2009 agreement subsequently became the base of subsequent strikes over the following years.
Due to the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Action that was agreed upon with the union in 2009, ASUU embarked on another indefinite strike that lasted for over five months. The strike started on 22 July 2010 and was called off in January 2011.
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 the failure of the 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.
So far in 2022, the union has been on strike for over three months, despite several interventions from pressure groups, and protests by students, the union and the government have yet to find a common ground. Sad!