Why ASUU Was Formed
Education is said to be one of the pillars of a developing nation. Little wonder the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, on his visit to the most populous black nation in Africa, said that “education leads to improvements in employment, productivity, and wages”.
Universities in the world, and particularly, in Nigeria, play a pivotal role in educating a greater portion of the citizens. However, and sadly so, some factors have threatened the educational process in Nigeria. Hence, the reason for the formation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, was formed to solve some of the challenges Nigerian universities face. Sadly, but not rightly so, the union has utilized industrial strike actions to ensure that the government pays some attention to those challenges.
The Demands Of ASUU
ASUU is currently demanding that the challenges bedeviling the tertiary institutions be solved, before the universities can be reopened again.
These challenges are: poor conditions of service, salary structure, request for autonomy, allowances, honoraria external moderation of examinations, call duty hazard fee and poor funding of universities.
The issue of poor funding of universities has led to infrastructural rot and decay. It is saddening to note that the hostels lack water, there is a shortage of toilets — The available ones are being shared by students in a 1:100 ratio — thus the breeding of diseases, unfinished building projects, ill-equipped laboratories, lack of internet access, overcrowded lecture halls, libraries with little quantity of books — often old, archaic, outdated — and poor ventilation, and more sadly so, the issue of under-qualified staff.
To drive home its points, and to ensure that the government comes to terms with their demands, ASUU has embarked on numerous strikes, including the outright stoppage of work by all academic staff in both Federal and State universities in Nigeria.
The History Of ASUU Strikes
Between the return of democracy in 1999 till date, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has embarked on industrial strike action, a total of fourteen (14) times, the longest being in 2003/2004 when the universities were shutdown for six months. Like a deja-vu, the same repeated itself in 2013 when the union embarked on strike for another five months and some days — almost six months.
The Negative Effects Of ASUU Strike
A popular adage says that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. The strike actions have had a heavy toll on students, as the irregular academic calendars tend to delay students, thus making them graduate at ages above 30, and in sequel, missing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme — which was made mandatory by the Federal Government.
These strike actions have also had resonating effects on degree examinations, horsemanship, law school, and even late admission of students into the university.
Worst still, university graduates find it difficult to get employed in the private sector, if they graduate at ages above 26 – a discriminating menace which the Federal Government, in its negligence, has failed to pass laws to curb.
The Latest ASUU Strike News
So what really is the cause of the recent strike action which started in November, last year, and has lingered on, till now? This time around, the strike is about the proposed plan by the Federal Government to establish an education bank, the plan to increase tuition fees, and the Federal Government’s failure to honour the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed by both parties in 2009.
Expressing the Union’s displeasure, the President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said “ASUU decided to resume a total and indefinite strike, which it suspended about a year ago in 2017, having waited patiently for action and meaningful negotiation with reasonable men, using the principle of collective bargaining”.
Reacting, the Federal Government, which had initially described the strike action as unconstitutional, later swallowed its words, when it recently appealed to the union to halt the strike.
Calling Off The ASUU Strike
Recently, series of meetings and negotiations have been ongoing, with the latest meeting held on the 7th of January 2019.
As an aftermath of the 7th January 2019 meeting, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, rejected the offer made by the Federal Government. ASUU insisted that the FG must release at least a tranche of 220 Billion Naira spread throughout 2019, before the strike can be called off.
However, emerging indications tend to suggest that the strike action would be called off very soon, due to the fast approaching 2019 elections, as the Presidency and the ruling party — All Progressives Congress, APC — cannot both make the political blunder of allowing the strike linger, an action which may affect their performance at the polls.
Latest Update on ASUU Strike
On Friday, 1st of February 2019, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had a meeting with the Federal Government. However, the meeting failed to secure a compromise between both parties, thus the strike still continues.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige had announced that the Federal Government does not have the N50 Billion that ASUU is demanding to be paid in tranches quarterly.
Dr. Ngige said “We do not have N50 billion and we cannot do N50 billion, but we have offered them something reasonable. So they have to take it back, and go and present to their members”.
However, a new meeting between the FG and ASUU has been fixed for Thursday, 7th of February 2019.
ASUU Strike Finally Suspended
The Academic Staff Union Of Universities, today 7th of February, 2019 finally suspended the 3-months strike, after an agreement between the Union and the Federal Government.