ASUU-FG: Still, A Quagmire Persists

ASUU-FG: Still, A Quagmire Persists

With the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, extending its ongoing strike by three months, it is an omen of what is ahead. Universities would remain shut amid rising students’ protest across the country over their long stay at home.

ASUU President, who was quoted by the media that it had no alternative to the option was defiant as he blamed the Federal Government, FG, of failing to meet its demands.

The FG -ASUU face-off has been a feature common to our national life and has a long history.  In the 22 years since the return to democracy in 1999, universities have gone on strike a record 15 times. The latest being the 16th one, a one-month warning strike declared on February 14 to press for increased wages, comes barely two years after a nine-month industrial action.

In each case, the institutions have had to shut their doors, disrupting academic calendars to the frustration of students and parents nationwide. But for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the umbrella body of the lecturers, a similar frustration is at the heart of its perennial struggle for better remuneration and improved infrastructure in the schools, among other issues.

The decision, to maintain the status quo ante according to the Lagos zonal coordinator of ASUU, Adelaja Odukoya, followed an extensive meeting of the leadership of the union last weekend.

One other leg of the impasse is the concern of stakeholders, including students and others, including members of civil society organisations who have continued to stage protests to demand an immediate resolution of the crisis between the workers’ unions so as to open the institutions.

ASUU has consistently condemned what it described as the failure of the government to meet its demands.

According to the union, the basic requirement for the suspension of the industrial action will be the replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System ,IPPIS, with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution ,UTAS, for the payment of its members’ salaries and other entitlements.

The union also added that the implementation of the agreement already concluded with the Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation Committee should be implemented without delay.

But the government has said it would not approve UTAS until all identified loopholes are fixed.

The government also said the renegotiated referenced agreement by the ASUU was not signed by any of the two parties, and set up another renegotiation committee under the leadership of Nimi Briggs, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a former Vice-Chancellor.

However, the ASUU has declined to meet with the Briggs-led committee, thus further stalling progress.

With the deteriorating picture being painted, the universities are likely to remain shut for a while with a destabilising effect on parents, students and others within the university system whose personal economies are largely dependent therein.

It is also feared that given the proximity of a general election and the housing and population census around the corner, allowing any situation that would spur any form of aggression and militancy would not be in national interest.

Besides, we already have a large dose of insecurity related issues; it would be preposterous to allow another round of students’ unrest to reign alongside those across the land.  

It is therefore incumbent on the government and the ASUU to put behind any claim to any superior or vantage position in the interest of the system which before now has been almost prostate, following reports on the decay that had engulfed the universities hitherto.

We cannot be pretentious about the poor quality of our graduates when in the first place the conditions precedent for them to excel is not available.

Lecturers and the FG must of necessity narrow their differences to ensure an understanding is reached so that it would not be assumed as always that they are not bothered by the plight of the students since most of their children and wards do not school in public universities but in private institutions within and schools abroad.   

It is important to make our public university system work again!

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asuuEmmanuel OsodekeStrike action