The entire nation waited with bated breath on Thursday 7th February when ASUU national officials were billed to go into a meeting, a supposedly final meeting aimed at reaching a possible consensus which will lead to a final calling off of the three month old strike.
The meeting did hold with the Federal Government and ASUU and thereafter the press were addressed by both the Minister of Labour, Dr Cris Ngige and ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi.
Speaking Dr Ngige said both parties had agreed on the contentious issues been demanded and the strike would now be called off.
Speaking, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi was quoted to have announced that “The action of 2017 was suspended following the signing of a memorandum of action (MoA) in which the federal government of Nigeria (FGN) promised to address the contentious issues within a time-line that was to end in October 2017.
Apparently it was a refusal by the Federal Government to do the above within the given time-frame that led to the latest strike action which commenced on November 4, 2018.
Now he also warned that the union will not hesitate to go back on strike if the government as much as reneged on its promises again.
What exactly was ASUU fighting for?
Apparently the union’s demands included: payment of the shortfall in salaries of some Federal Universities’ workers and lecturers, unpaid Earned Academic Allowances and the revitalisation of projects that were part of the 2009 agreement among others.
Now the strike has been called off and lecturers have been ordered back to class and students can now return to their studies as schools like the Lagos State University (LASU) have issued statements to this effect,
On Friday, Dr Tony Dansu, who is the Secretary of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter, said lecturers of the institution will resume work on Monday.
Dansu in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos said the development was as a result of the suspension of the three-month strike embarked upon by the union since Nov. 4, 2018.
Now one big question that should be on the mind of any close observer of the Nigerian educational system and polity is this, till when again?
When next are we expecting the next strike action which will yet again destabilize the Nigeria’s tertiary educational calendar. When next is ASUU going to down tools for months on end and be engaged in series and series of negotiations and counter negotiations which will continue on end with the Federal government.
Virtually everyone who studied in a Nigerian University within the last two decades remembers and can narrate their own strike experience while still in school, virtually everyone who studied in a Nigerian University will attest to the fact that a four year course suddenly became a five six or even seven year course due to these incessant strike actions.
I remember vividly my days as a student. First in Yaba College of Technology and then the University of Ibadan. My National Diploma course programme which ordinarily ought to last for a minimal 2 years became 3 while my Bachelor of Arts course programme ended up becoming a six year programme after a strike action that took almost six months back then.
What then is the way forward on this incessant strike actions that cripples academic activities, renders the academic calender ineffective and makes an academic sojourn in Nigerian Universities a scary one that is unpredictable?
Looking at the situation, one thing can be deduced to have always led to the strike actions and that is government’s unwillingness to address the needs of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and by extension the general Universities’ needs.
There is no doubt that for future occurrences to be averted, government must sit up and get serious with funding of Nigeria’s educational needs.
It is a shame to us, especially our government that a meager portion of each years budget is allocated to education. It might shock you to note that the allocation for education in the 2018 budget was a meager 10% of the entire budget.
It is high time government stop playing lip service to funding of critical sectors of the nation and begin to play responsibly, eschewing corruption which diverts much of the nation’s wealth away from critical sectors while just a handful of unpatriotic Nigerians continue to amass wealth to the collective detriment of the majority of the populace.
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