Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Nigerian government continue to blame each other on who is wrong while the ASUU strike clocks five months on 14 July, 2022.
However, it seems there is no end in sight as all meetings between the parties ended in stalemate. Some observers believe the duo (government and ASUU members) feel less concerned as the industrial action grows worse, with academic activities remaining completely paralyzed in the nation’s public universities.
The lingering strike which started on 14 February, 2022 (with a two-week warning strike) is as a result of ASUU’s unmet demands; some of which include: the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform.
However, the federal government had on 7 March, 2022 inaugurated a seven-man panel committee having Prof. Nimi Briggs as it’s chairman to renegotiate with ASUU on the 2009 agreement. The renegotiation seems to have yielded no result as ASUU Chairman, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke after about three meetings with the Briggs’ committee, maintained that the union is waiting for the government’s response to call off the strike.
Conversely, the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement on Monday 11 July, 2022, told university lecturers to reconsider their stance on the prolonged strike, noting that the industrial action, if not called off would have consequences on families, the educational system and the future generation of the country.
“We hope that ASUU would sympathize with the people on the prolonged strike. Truly, enough is enough for keeping the students at home,” the President said.
Reacting to the president’s statement, ASUU on Tuesday 12 July 2022, accused the president of playing psychological game by involving the future generation in his statement.
The union insisted that the government, and not the union’s members is to be blamed for the prolonged strike.
Certainly, both the federal government and ASUU know the lasting consequences of the prolonged strike. Each knows the role education plays in national development. The question is, who amongst them is responsible for the students misfortunes? Who amongst them needs to act fast so as to prevent the consequences mentioned by the President?
The students on their part have called on the federal government to meet ASUU’s demands so that the strike could be called off.
During a Twitter space discussion hosted by Punch on Tuesday 12 July, 2022, the student’s called on the government to do something about the perturbing situation.
“The government knows exactly what they are doing. Some government officials were recently seen in a photo abroad celebrating the graduation of their children from foreign a institution. A politician in this country can meet the union’s demand. Meanwhile, federal government has said “Enough is Enough” on ASUU strike. The government is not broke yet they are not ready to meet ASUU’S demands.” One of the speakers lamented.
“It is so sad that the the government of Nigeria has failed it’s educational system, future Nigerians are sitting at home. The government officials are not bothered because their children are not in public schools. If you do not pay the lecturers, do you expect them to be fair to the students?” another speaker, Momo Tiri added.
Another Participant in the discussion, Emma, also maintained that the government have a role to play and urged it to make effort and meet ASUU’s demands so that the students can go back to school.
Patience Ndidiamaka Ede, PBA Journalism Mentee