Education Politics

Reactions trail extension of ASUU strike by three months

ASUU, polytechnic lecturers, others to get N34bn minimum wage arrears -FG
Written by Maritime First

…Stakeholders say insensitivity by parties linger strike***

… As Ekiti urges FG, ASUU to resolve differences***

Some stakeholders in the education sector in the South-East have reacted to the three months extension of the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The stakeholders made their reactions in separate interviews with the newsmen.

Also read: Strike: Don urges stakeholders to intervene in FG, ASUU dispute

Newsmen report that ASUU had embarked on a nationwide warning strike on Feb. 14, 2022.

The industrial action was aimed at pressing home its demands which include revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution for payment of university lecturers.

However, at a time Nigerians expected ASUU to call off the strike, the union on May 9, rather announced a further extension of the industrial action by three months.

Reacting to the development, the President, Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, Enugu, Mr Olu Omotayo, described the development as a grave danger to tertiary education in the country.

Omotayo said that the inability of ASUU and the Federal Government to resolve the labour dispute was capable of stagnating whatever economic gains the current administration had made.

According to the lawyer, you cannot talk about development without education and security.

He said that it was worrisome that the politicians were busy talking about politics and restrategising on how to win elections while students were idling away at home.

“They are creating problems that will haunt us in the future. Some of these students might be forced to join bad groups, thereby, increasing the crime rate in the country,” Omotayo said.

Also, the President, Students Union Government (SUG), University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Mr Micheal Abuchi, said that the government was playing politics with the future of Nigerian students.

Abuchi, however, said that the students would continue to engage ASUU and the government to ensure a timely resolution of the industrial dispute.

A lecturer at the Institute of African Studies, UNN, Mr George Akubue, said that ASUU would not have embarked on the strike had the government shown serious commitments in addressing the issues in contention.

Also, a parent, Mr Monday Ugwu, said that parents had not found it easy since the strike started due to the high cost of living in the country.

Ugwu said that the situation was more pathetic considering that some of the students would have graduated before now to enable them to contribute to the welfare of their respective families.

An undergraduate, Miss Vera Iloegbuna, said that the situation had almost made her lose interest in education, adding that someone could still be successful in life without a university education.

Mr Paul Ibiam said that the strike was affecting the future of the students who had been languishing at home since February.

Ibiam appealed to the Federal Government and ASUU to embrace genuine dialogue in order to avert an indefinite strike.

Also, the Executive Director of a non-governmental organisation, Heroine Women Foundation, Mrs. Onyinye Mamah, called on the government to find a way of resolving the issues with ASUU.

Mamah also appealed to ASUU to find a better way of expressing their grievances than shutting the schools.

Also, the immediate past President, of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Mr Chidi Ilogede, blamed ASUU and the government on the condition of the Nigerian students.

Ilogede said that while the government had continually betrayed Nigerian students following their unfulfilled assurances to end the strike, “ASUU does not care since they believe they are pressing for what their union wants.”

In the meantime, mixed reactions have greeted the extension of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike by another 12 weeks.

Some stakeholders in the sector have condemned the extension while asking the Federal Government to immediately address the demands of ASUU.

The stakeholders spoke in separate interviews with the newsmen in Abuja on Monday after ASUU announced extending the strike by another 12 weeks.

Mrs Arinola Badmus, a parent, lamented the extension saying that it would cause more harm than good to the students, communities and the larger society if not immediately addressed.

Badmus said that the decision by the union was insensitive as the government had decided to allow the strike to linger, adding that the display of ‘I don’t care attitude’ of the government had brought about the present situation.

“We can say that the union is insensitive, but what about the government.

Why are they always shying away from their responsibilities?

“This is not the first time the union will be putting their demands before the table, the government should answer them so that our children can return to school.

“Many of them were about writing examinations before the strike.

Now they will be spending additional 12 weeks after they had stayed at home for 12 weeks before.

“This is very sad, don’t forget that when these children are not engaged with something, they end up becoming a nuisance to the society so the government must note this to avoid problems,” she said.

Also, the National President, of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Mr Sunday Asefon, in a statement, said the association would declare a national action on total shut down of the economy.

“The 3-month extension of the strike is totally condemned.

The failure of the government to reach an agreement with ASUU underscores their lack of concern and empathy to the plight of the common men and women of our nation who couldn’t afford private tertiary institutions.

“Having exhausted all windows of constructive engagement with the government.

I, on behalf of the national leadership of NANS, therefore declare National Action from May 10.

“The National  Action, tagged “Operation Test Run”, shall be held in all the 36 states of the federation.

“Federal roads across the 36 States shall be occupied for a minimum of three hours.

The operation shall be a precursor to a total shutdown that will be decided during our Senate meeting/pre-convention on May 14,” he said.

Asefon said that the decision of the association from the convention would be binding as they would be total.

He said the extension of the ASUU strike was a direct declaration of war by the Federal Government against university students.

“Our proposal to congress on May 14 shall be total blockage of the airport roads across the country and total disruption of political party primaries, blockage of the national assembly until they are committed to passing legislation banning public office holders from sending their children to universities abroad.

“We, therefore, advise divisive elements or paid agents of the government to stay clear of our actions as the consequences shall be severe.

“I, therefore call on NLC, TUC and Civil Society Organisations to join us to salvage the remaining crackers of our public tertiary education,” he said.

Also, a political analyst, Mr Rotimi Lawrence, appealed to the government and the union to dialogue and reach a decision that would benefit the Nigerian students.

Lawrence expressed worry over the extension of the strike, saying that it would give the opportunity to private universities to ‘ride of horses’.

He added that the previous administration was largely part of the agreement of ASUU, hence the government had a role to play in ensuring the implementation of the agreement.

“Government makes promises and don’t fulfill.

Remember that the government had promised Nigerian teachers at the 2020 World Teachers Day of improved renumeration and extension of teachers’ retirement age.

“This is 2022 and this had not been implemented.

The demands of ASUU were agreed upon in 2009 and we are still negotiating on how it will be implemented, this is too bad for us as a country,” he said.

Newsmen report that the union had embarked on a nationwide warning strike from Feb. 14 to press home its members’ demands.

The first warning strike started on Feb. 14 for four weeks and the second strike commenced on March 15 for another four weeks, while the third one was announced on May 9 for another 12 weeks.

The lecturers’ demands include funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.

Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.

In another development, stakeholders in the education sector in Ekiti have appealed to both the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resolve their differences in the interest of Nigerian students and parents.

Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with the newsmen in Ikole-Ekiti on Tuesday, decried the extension of the strike by ASUU, describing is as unfortunate.

Mr Bayode Fatoba, a civil servant, described the situation as unfortunate and disturbing that his children were experiencing delays in their academics as a result of incessant strike by ASUU.

Fatoba noted that the education sector of the country would suffer serious setback if the federal government did not meet the demands of ASUU.

“Honestly, the current strike embarked upon by ASUU will destroy the academic standard of our university education in Nigeria if the federal government decides to ignore them.

“My two children in the university have been idle because they are tired of staying at home sleeping and playing.

“I am, therefore, appealing to both parties to resolve their differences and call-off the strike in the interest of Nigerian students,” he said.

Another parent, Mrs Bukola Ogundana, a trader, appealed to both the federal government and ASUU to consider the plights of students that had become idle.

Ogundana described the news of the extension of the strike by ASUU as unfair to the students because a lot of them were in their final year.

She advised the federal government to improve the education sector and stop regular strikes by the union.

Mr Bode Oguntuase, a teacher, said the extension of the strike by ASUU was not good for the education system of the country.

He said the demands of the lecturers could be genuine and reasonable, but the people suffering from the ongoing strike were the innocent students whose time was being wasted and their parents, most of whom obtained loans to sponsor their education.

“I want to appeal to both ASUU and the federal government to resolve their differences to allow the students to resume in due time.

“It is quite unfortunate that the Nigerian education system is undergoing challenges, thereby causing setbacks for students.

“For example, a student who ought to have graduated in 2022 might end up graduating in 2023 or 2024; this is unfair,” he said.

Mrs Foluke Fagbemi, another civil servant, said the activities of both ASUU and the federal government did not indicate that the strike would be suspended soon.

Fagbemi noted that if the federal government did not take proactive measures to resolve its differences with ASUU, the students might stay at home for the whole year.

She appealed to the two parties to take steps to restore peace to the education sector.

“I have no doubt in my mind that if the federal government and ASUU do not resolve their differences in due time, the students might stay at home for the whole year.

“As we all can see, there is no indication that the parties are ready to have a peaceful dialogue on the way forward and as a concerned parent, I am worried about the education system of Nigeria,” she said.

Newsmen report that some of the male students in Ikole-Ekiti are beginning to engage in the motorcycle business and learning computers, while some female students have enrolled in various skill acquisition schemes such as tailoring, hairdressing, and cake baking, among others.

Newsmen also report that ASUU had on Monday rolled over its warning strike by another 12 weeks.

The union, in a statement issued by the National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said after a review of the situation, it decided to roll over the strike by another 12 weeks.

 

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