Recently, the Academic Staff of Unions (ASUU) announced a further extension of its national strike. The current strike was called on February 14, 2022.
That it has lasted three months and still counting shows that the stakeholders in the sector are incapable of finding lasting solutions to the problems of education. The worrisome thing about ASUU strikes is that the reasons for them have been largely the same. Failure on the part of the FGN to implement agreements, MOUs and MOAs reached with the union.
The union on her part has always greeted this with strikes. ASUU always ‘suspends’ and does not ‘call off’ her strike. The public have always acted the same way each time ASUU embarks on strike actions. Curiously, all expect different results. The education sector suffers. Perhaps government and Nigerians are comfortable with the fact that other countries can provide educational services for Nigeria.
This is wishful thinking, and one borne out of a people who hope to live in a fools’ paradise. No society’s development – economic, technological, scientific, cultural, etc. – can outmatch the quality of education she offers. The university is the light house and beacon of societies that aspire for true progress and development. The almost near silence of the once vibrant and articulate Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu is suspect. He had a brush with the leadership of NANs and went under the bunkers since then!
The Minister of State for Education has left the scene apologetically. He wants to be the next president of Nigeria after purchasing a form of N100,000,000 to express his interest for the office under the platform of the APC. The Minister of Labour and Productivity is not one to be held down in statements and actions. The time has come for all stakeholders in the education sector to put on their thinking caps and find lasting solutions to the problems besetting the sector.
Efforts must be put in place to make this current strike the last of this national embarrassment that started since 1988. There are many ways we all are victims of ASUU strike actions.
However, the most hit are the poor and middle-income earners who cannot send their children and wards to foreign universities. It is a thing of surprise that the NLC and other labour unions do not feel that it is their children that are most affected. It is therefore commendable that the TUC is waking up to this challenge. Students have started protesting the strikes on our streets.
The fear this portends for us as a people is better imagined than experienced. If reports received are taken seriously, we may begin to have highly ‘militarised’ student bodies across the country. The high-handedness of our security personnel does not help matters.
It is therefore imperative for both government and ASUU to nip this in the bud. The country is already charged enough to tipping point! When will this, and future strike actions end?
The federal government seems to be recruiting more academics for ASUU. Staff of most of the newly established publicly owned universities are now members of ASUU. Universities like the University of Ilorin that pulled out of ASUU in the past have returned to her fold. The salaries of academics should be reviewed upward.
It is shameful that many Nigerians do not aspire to become researchers and academics. Salaries have remained the same since 2009. Some academics have left the system for others lucrative sectors or foreign countries. It is not enough for the FGN to reject the UTAS payment platform created by ASUU.
The fact that persons who have retired and died are on the payroll of IPPIS, the fact that academics who were not physically captured are being paid under the platform demonstrate that the office of the Accountant General was parsimonious with the truth. If only for its local content, if it has 75% credibility pass and if it is capable of being upgraded and improved upon from time to time, then the FGN should accept UTAS for trial.
No doubt, we are in a society where public officials do not resign honourably when they have failed or are found in doubtful positions. Nevertheless, we call on the Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu to put an end to this unrest in our university system.
Alternatively, he should resign. ASUU and other stakeholders in the education sector should give the nation a workable and implementable roadmap on how to bring our universities to where they belong among their peers in the world.
It takes two to tangle As a union of academics, ASUU most look inward and see where she can make some accommodation for the system to run smoothly; after all, there are many aspects of the 2009 agreement that various universities’ managements have not even addressed. This is one strike too many for our university education. That polytechnics and colleges of education unions have threatened to join is a tragedy!