Strike: ASUU Talks With FG Deadlocked, Says No Resumption

Fifty-nine days after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) mobilised its members nationwide and declared a warning strike, there are indications that talks with the Federal Government negotiating team may have hit the rocks again.

This is coming 13 years after the government at the center had repeatedly failed to fulfil an agreement its representative signed with the union for the revitalisation and improved funding of public university education.

NEEDs Assessment
Concerned about the state of public varsities following public outcry, the Federal Ministry of Education on November 1, 2012, set up the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities.

The report submitted to then Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’I in March 2013 revealed that public universities are grossly mismanaged; engage in activities at variance with the National Policy on Education and are lacking in human and material resources. The varsities were accused of being incapable of supplying the nation’s manpower needs and are said to be bogged down by corruption of various kinds while offering education of poor quality, among others.

Besides, the 2013 Needs assessment report showed that the majority of the universities are grossly understaffed, rely heavily on part-time and visiting lecturers, have under-qualified academics and lacked an effective staff development programme outside the Tertiary Education Trust Fund intervention and the Presidential First Class Scholarship programme. The report also affirmed that there are 37,504 academics (83 per cent of which are male) in the country’s public universities.

No Going Back, ASUU Insists

As the strike linger, the ASUU Abuja zone, on Monday, insisted that the lecturers will not resume duties in public universities until renegotiated 2009 agreement is signed, implemented and the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) is deployed for payment of salaries of university workers.

Dr Salawu Muhammed Lawal, UNIABUJA/ASUU zonal coordinator affirmed this during a news conference at the University of Abuja, Gwagwalada.

Recall that the union had after appeals and nationwide sensitization of the public embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.

At the expiration of the exercise without informed negotiation on the part of the government, the union extended the strike by another 2 months to allow the government meets all of its demands.

This is as a generation of students in 104 federal and state universities are locked out of the institutions.

Dr Lawal, however, said the lecturers are ever ready to return to their duty post as soon as their demands are met by the Federal Government.

Parents, PTA Beg For Truce

Disturbed by grandstanding by both parties, the Parent Teacher’s Association of Nigeria(PTA) has pleaded with ASUU to reverse their decision in the interest of the students.

The National President of PTA, Alh Danjuma Haruna said that the strike has had negative effects on the educational sector, saying the crisis is counterproductive to the nation’s socio-economic development,

“Our children who are supposed to be in schools would further become frustrated and indulge in all kinds of social vices,” he said.

He appealed to both ASUU to go back to the drawing board and see where it can help in suspending its ongoing strike because according to him, the students and parents are at the receiving end as many cannot foot the bills of a private university or overseas education.

A parent with two children in the University system, Mr. Bola Popoola told Daily Independent that the lingering strike has become distasteful to parents at this auspicious time when homes are hit by economic challenges.

He lamented that the continued lockout of students was coming amidst increased price of foodstuff, high cost of petroleum and general insecurity challenges bedevilling the peace and stability of the country.

FG Approves More Institutions

Amidst the cries over the poor funding of existing tertiary institutions, the Federal Ministry of Education, in a statement by its director of press, Ben Goong, said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved three polytechnics to be located in Kabo, Kano State; Umunnoechi, Abia State, and Orogun, Delta State.

The announcement comes amidst industrial action by lecturers and other university’ workers’ unions under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU).

The non-academic workers’ strike entered its third week on Monday.

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