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ASUU strike: Stakeholders express worry, want immediate resolution
Some stakeholders in the education sector have continued to deep express worry over the lingering crisis between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They said that the face-off had crippled the livelihood of the people around the universities.
The stakeholders, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday, called for immediate resolutions so that students would return to their classrooms.
An educationist, Mr Olaniyi Olawade said the effect of the strike had brought untold hardship on the youths, business owners and had affected the economy of residence where institutions were located.
Olawade said that many students had lost focus and were getting involved in so many criminal activities capable of shortchanging their destinies.
According to him, many who earn a living from businesses around the school communities cannot do anything again and have resorted to living unproductive lives.
“The effects of ASUU strike on the youth of this nation is quite enormous. It has adverse effect on their present and future endeavours as it makes them unproductive and lazy.
“The strike has done more harm in wasting the precious time of the students and making the youths to become unscrupulous and to lose hope in this country,” he said.
Olawade said that the four months strike had grounded the productive academic sector and other aspects of the economy of the nation.
“Also, those that are not in the academics but earn their daily bread by selling stuff to the students and academic communities are not finding things easy this period.
“We are pleading with the government and the academics to sheath their sword and allow peace to reign so that this matter can be resolved once and for all as the students are the most affected by the crisis,” he added.
A civil servant and a mother of three, Mrs Damilola Bankole said that the strike had drawn back the academic progress of students as compared with their colleagues from other climes.
Bankole called on the government to wade into the situation by attending to the needs of these universities lecturers, while looking for alternative preventive methods to avoid such crisis in the future.
“One of the major effect of ASUU strike on Nigerian universities is the fact that it’s going to draw us back. The academic calendar has been drawn backward and for it to pick up again, it will take a lot of time.
“Apart from this, it is also going to have a great effect on the smooth transition from secondary school to higher institutions.
“This is because some students have just concluded writing their WAEC and JAMB examinations and have applied to these universities but as it stands, nothing can be done as they have to be on the queue.
“And when there is a queue in the education system of a country, it leads to crimes and other moral decadence in the society because a child who waits more than necessary will be involved in unscrupulous acts,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor,
Niger Delta University, Bayelsa, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take charge and speed up the process of resolving the ongoing trade dispute with ASUU and other unions.
Edoumiekumo is also the Chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU).
He said that a drastic action must be taken to stem the haemorrhage that the system was currently witnessing for the sake of the Nigerian children.
” I have said that the president should speed up the whole process, take over everything and take a concrete decision and that is even now, so that our students who are at home will be back on campuses.
“So, we are calling on Mr President to speed up action, so that we call off the strike, and the students can come back to campus,” he said.
A political analyst, Mr Rotimi Lawrence said that the lingering strike should be addressed as it had caused not only a national embarrassment but monumental loss of human capital to the country.
Lawrence said that if nothing was done to address industrial disputes in the tertiary institutions, it would continue to affect the global rating of public ivory tower.
Miss Favour Rotimi, a student of Federal University, Oye Ekiti, said that many students were frustrated as a result of the strike and want immediate solution so that they could return to their schools.
Rotimi said that the effect of the strike was enormous as some female students were now involved in the act of prostituting, while some had been impregnated.
” We have been at home in the last four months. Many of us tried to get menial jobs to do but we can’t get it when even graduates are still hunting for jobs.
“I will not blame any students who have decided to look for money through other means. What I think the government can do is to facilitate this dialogue with the lecturers so that we can all have our peace as a nation.
” Yes, it is true that the lecturers are demanding for their welfare and the welfare of the university system as a whole.
“This is not too big for them to ask. We don’t take education seriously as a country and this will continue to affect us even on the global scene,” Rotimi said.(NAN)
By Biodun Busari
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has said it will take a legal action against President Muhammadu Buhari over the lingering strike embarked on by public universities’ lecturers.
SERAP said this on its verified Twitter handle @SERAPNigeria on Friday.
Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, started a strike action on February 14 to demand, among other things, the Federal Government release money for revitalisation, pay the earned academic allowances, and put a stop to proliferation of universities among others.
The strike which has lasted more than 130 days, jeopardising the future of Nigerian students, also caught the attention of the organised labour who are threatening to protest.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Thursday, said it would embark on a one-day protest to force the Federal Government respond to ASUU’s demands.
Reacting to the impasse between the government and lecturers, SERAP said: “BREAKING: The ASUU strike which has kept poor children at home while the children of Nigeria’s politicians attend private schools, is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.
“We’re suing the Buhari administration over its violation of poor children’s rights to education and equal protection.”
NLC plans one-day protest over ASUU strike, others
The Nigeria Labour Congress on Thursday said it would hold a one – day national protest to force the Federal Government to meet the demands of university-based unions.
The congress noted that reports from a meeting of its Central Working Committee showed lack of progress in the negotiation with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and National Association of Academic Technologists.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, spoke in Abuja during the opening of the National Executive Council meeting of the Congress.
Wabba directed all the affiliate unions of the NLC to issue directives on the planned one-day national protest from next week.
“I think there is reluctance in addressing this issue (of strike) and therefore, CWC has decided that there will be a one-day national protest to call the attention of the government to resolve the issue immediately. After that, the next decision of the CWC will take place,” he said.
He however did not disclose when the national protest will hold.
Wabba also lamented the present fuel crisis in the country, while adding that the congress is studying the sack of teachers by the Kaduna State Government.
Meanwhile, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday to expedite the process of resolving ongoing disputes between the government and the unions.
The chairman of the committee, Prof Samuel Edoumiekumo, made the call during the launch of the intellectual property policy document for universities in Abuja.
“We plead that drastic action is taken to stem the haemorrhage that the system is currently witnessing. For the sake of our children and our society, we need the decision,” he said.
There appears no end in sight to the strike by university teachers as the national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said they are yet to hear from the government, after meeting with Prof. Nimi Briggs renegotiation committee.
The committee is expected to review the draft proposed 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement and renegotiate with all the striking unions.
Since April 2022, the Briggs renegotiation committee had been meeting with the unions to address the thorny issues in the 2009 agreement.
Osodeke in an interview said they are yet to hear from the Federal Government on the report of meetings had so far.
He said: “Since our meeting with the Briggs committee, the government has not called us for any feedback. All the committee told us was that they are waiting for their principal to respond, that once the Federal Government responds, they will get back to us.”
Osodeke said they had not gotten the invitation for another meeting and nothing is happening for now.
He, however, lamented that this was the situation since May 2021, “the same way they told us they were waiting for the FG and yet no result.”
Similarly, the national president, of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Ibrahim Mohammed, said all they have done were appraisals and reviews, while the Briggs committee said it would report to the Federal Government for the next line of action.
While ASUU commenced strike on February 14, SSANU’s strike started with a warning strike of two weeks, which commenced on March 27.
Some of the demands of SSANU include the inconsistent issue of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), unpaid earned allowances, and delay in the renegotiation of FGN, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and allied institutions (NASU) agreements, and non-payment of minimum wage arrears.
Others include neglect and poor funding of state universities, non-payment of retirement benefits to outgoing members of the unions, and usurpation of the headship of non-teaching units in clear violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures, among others.
ASUU’s demands 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 Universities Transparency and Accountability System (UTAS) for payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
Minister-designate plans to end ASUU strike, Senate confirms nominees
The Senate, on Wednesday, screened and confirmed the seven ministerial nominees whose names were sent last week by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for confirmation.
The screening, which started around noon, lasted till 4.37pm.
Those screened and confirmed include Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Umana (Akwa-Ibom) and Ekumankama Nkama (Ebonyi).
Others are Goodluck Opiah (Imo), Umar El-Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adegoroye (Ondo) and Udi Odum (Rivers).
While answering questions from lawmakers, Ikoh said operational licences should be granted operators of modular refineries in the country as part of job creation efforts.
Umana, on his part, underscored the need for Nigeria to step up its production capacity so as to boost foreign exchange earnings and reduce the country’s reliance on importation.
Nkama admonished young Nigerians to tap into new areas of investment, so as to foster self-reliance and productivity, particularly in the country’s trade sector.
On the lingering strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nkama said if appointed into the Ministry of Labour and Employment, he would ensure that the Federal Government and ASUU reach a compromise, while also urging the National Assembly to provide additional funding for the educational sector, so as to meet some of the needs of the union.
He said, “There will be the need for
compromise. For a very long time, ASUU has been sticking to its guns that all the agreements reached earlier must be implemented. And we know that from the same source – the same national purse – there are several contending interests seeking attention.
“My advice will be that the Federal Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise, and through this, we would be able to solve the issue of the ASUU strike once and for all. I know the importance of budgetary provision. I want to appeal to the Senate that when the budget is being made for the coming year, there will be adequate provision for the education sector so that some of these needs that the ASUU members are asking for as a union will be met.”
Lending his voice to the need for an end to the ASUU strike, Adegoroye described the union’s action as against the interest of Nigerian students.
Opiah was asked to take a bow, in accordance with the Senate’s tradition of extending such privilege to past members of the National Assembly.