Need to avoid another ASUU strike

 Although the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called off its planned strike, the need for the federal government to address the issues it raised remains. The various agreements made by the government and ASUU during their meetings and negotiations have often failed to meet the expectations of the union. 

The ongoing crisis between the federal government and ASUU has been one of the most significant events in the country’s academic calendar since 1999. This has adversely affected students both academically and socially. This, in turn, led to the frequent strike actions by the members of the union. The decision to postpone the industrial action by the ASUU may be a welcome development but it is only a temporary measure that can lead to the restoration of peace in the universities.

Recently, ASUU canceled its planned strike over failure of government to adopt the University Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS) with concurrent discontinuance of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and distortion in salary payment including the release of accumulated promotion arrears; and the review and signing of the draft document on the Renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement. 

But for how long will students suffer academically because of this. It is not a question of how much students should pay for education, but how academic institutions should behave towards their students. The main problem lies in the fact that academic institutions are not doing any research in this regard as students keep facing the same problem.

Now that the strike has been suspended, there is need for government to act fast to avoid any disaster as the leadership of the union expressed worry by the spirited efforts of government agents to reduce the demands of ASUU to a regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly devalued Earned Academic Allowances (EAA). 

The question now is how fast can the government act and how permanent will the solution be? ASUU strike actions have often been an issue of major concern to students in higher institutions especially in schools where strike actions are common. Till date, university students who are suffering from strike actions have been demanding the immediate release and full refund of EAA as well as implementation of UTAS by UTUG. 

They have also demanded the restoration of faculty to their original work conditions as demanded.

Millions of students are affected by these industrial actions. In 2018/2019 alone about 443,624 candidates who were admitted into universities were affected by the strike.

Statistics shows that 1,662,762 candidates wrote UTME the same year. Also, of the 1, 157, 977 candidates who sat for UTME in 2019/2020, about 612, 557 were offered admission into various tertiary institutions, majority of them were in the universities, thus facing the consequences of the ASUU strike that lasted for over nine months.

In 2020, over 2.1 million candidates registered for the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry programmes.

However, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Examination Board (JAMB) could not provide the exact number of students in private and public universities in the years in question. 

In a few years time, another strike is bound to happen as students now include strikes in their personal academic calendar.

Yusuf Maryam Madugu,

Department of Mass Communication, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger state

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