ASUU And The Salvageability Of Nigerian Universities
Again, some public opinionated individuals have accused the academic union of politicizing strike to get at the government.
Academic history was distorted in the federal universities on 4th November,2018 when the academic staffers without profanities and frivolities declared
“Total, indefinite and comprehensive strike”
ASUU seems to have been pushed to the wall of negotiation, because the state of the agreements with government became comatose with or without any meaningful progress. The 2009 agreement between the duo and the 2012/2013 memorandum of understanding was not given much attention.
The 2017 memorandum of action was activated by ASUU. From 1999-2018, the academic staff union have gone on strike for over 38 months,that is total of 3 years and three months statistically. Like the proverbial saying ” when two elephants fight,the grass suffers” in this case, both ASUU and the students are in the dilemma together. While the students seeks to graduate in schedule time,the lecturers on the hand want an enable environment with good facilities to work.
The 2018 strike seems to be different from other strikes embark on because the sole reason is on *FUNDING OF THE UNIVERSITIES* ASUU is absolute and sacrosanct on this. Since the strike commenced, there meetings held by ASUU and the relevant authority has being failing. The last meeting was on the Monday 10th December 2018, it also ended in deadlock because there was no common ground between the parties.
In the heat of this struggle by ASUU to salvage the universities from total failing, Chief Bisi Akande and Adeleye's comments went viral. To them, ASUU is ungrateful and the strike is unfortunate and never necessary. The response to ASUU to their allegations humbled them to the marrow.
Again, some public opinionated individuals has accused the academic union of politicizing strike to get at the government. ASUU on it part has insisted that,there is no politics involved in the strike. That it is clamoring for the implementation of agreement entered into by the federal government.
Some observers said that, until the children of critical stakeholders school in Nigeria universities the universities will remain unfunded.
The total of #1.3 trillion request from ASUU is the main bane or bone of contention. ASUU is insisting on 100% implementation of the the agreement entered into.
The federal government recently reversed the no work no pay that came into be in 1976 through decree 54. That shows that ASUU insistence on revamping the universities is known fact to them. The 2013 federal government need assessment report shows the decaying condition of the universities.
Because of poor funding, research and development is a huge problem in the public universities.
Students don't have access to 24 hours electricity.
No pibe Bone water supply.
No good study environments.
No access to intra campus internet facilities.
Lack state of the art laboratories for research.<
No up to date libraries.
The study in terrible atmospheric conditions. Yet they strive hard to survive and come out strong with good results. ASUU is seeking grounds to help the students to get better, best, quality education to enable the graduates to compete with their contemporaries in private own universities in the country and with those in world class universities like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge respectively. To the academic union,this is not a rocket wish or dreams,it is very possible.
Some watchers of ASUU strike since 1970s seems not to be agreeing with ASUU as using strike actions as alternative to press home it demands. But ASUU is sure that this will give them the expected and demanded results. In the another perspective, some citizens have cautioned ASUU to remain and get their expectations met,to avoid further strike actions in future.
Aside the request by ASUU on the students wellness and welfare in their studies. The federal universities lecturers asking for good condition of service.
Good scheme of allowances and take home pay. The new pensions pack proposal, release of earn academic allowances etc.
But the union decided to put all those other demands beneath the table and bring to the front burners the state of universities, seeking government prompts intervention. All what ASUU want is action and implementation of all agreements entered into by government since 2009. Recall that in 2009, ASUU was strike for 3 months and pressed home it demands again in 2010, when the strike lasted for 5 months. ASUU strike in 2017 lasted for 1 month and 6 days. While that of 2018 started on 4th November and still on till date.
All ASUU want is to teach students with cutting edge technology and science equipment, state of the arts facilities and up to date instructional materials. In the need assessment, the universities have only about 37,504 academic staffers not to the total number of manpower required in the university. Because of poor funding, the universities are asking for autonomy to operate,void of federal interference in matter of appointment and employment, especially the federal character principle.
In other to survive the paucity of funds by the federal government, the universities has introduced auxiliary payment to students like: acceptance fees, registration fees, certification fees, caution fees, examination fees, laboratory fees, transcript fees, medical fees, examination fees etc. Still, the universities based on instruction from the federal government desist from collecting or charging school fees from students.
Know that, the charges and step taken to generate funds defers from University to university.
Despite poor funding, the universities are still faced with constant demands of: more students enrollment, staff recruitment, classroom space struggle, outdated libraries, moribund laboratories, absence of computer facilities or lack of world class ICT centres, weak e-learning resources and no basic amenities like water and electricity or internet connectivity to the army students to compete for.
Finally, we are expected to see reason with ASUU. Funding of the universities is sacrosanct, mandatory and necessary. The university is the intellectual brain house of the nation. Government must Accord to it the needed respect and attention it deserves.
While ASUU look forward to the government response on the request. ASUU pleased with it employer to see reason with them and negotiate liberally to bring this worrisome and disturbing strike to an end.
ASUU is not in anyway fighting or forcing the government to act, it is only imploring and pleading to it accordingly. ASUU as a body, believe in due process and constitutionalism in salvaging the universities.
Rwang Patrick Stephen
Department of political science, Faculty of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences, Federal University of Kashere Gombe State, Northeast Nigeria.