BusinessDay

ASUU strike: NANS dimension

It is no longer news that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for more than seven months now due to the failure of the Federal Government to address the lecturers’ demands.

Many had thought that the Federal Government had the political will to nip the issue on bud, but that was not to be as students were locked out of the university communities as the ivory tower gates were under locks and keys.

And this, as would be expected, has resulted to the students blocking the highways and major roads in the nation to protest their disagreement with the lecturers/government impasse. It is actually a pity and a measure of the Federal Government’s ineptitude and lack of capacity to manage the affairs of our public universities. For the Federal Government to allow a key sector of the country’s economy to be redundant for seven months without any clear resolution, we believe is a clear indication that the government either has lost grips of control or is deliberately not interested in getting the students back to the classroom.

Moreover, the Federal Government’s insistence on ‘no work, no pay’ policy did not go down well with the lecturers, who see the disposition as an attempt to victimise them for standing up for their rights

Allowing the ASUU-Federal Government impasse to escalate to the point that the students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) would begin to block major commercial roads and routes in the country is actually a demonstration of bankruptcy of economic wisdom and leadership bigotry, which serves the country no good.

At the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where the new approach to blocking major roads begun, many travellers were exposed to dangers before the rampaging students who were frustrated by the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government to their plights.

Many international and local travellers were seen stranded the day NANS, on Monday, September 19, 2022, blocked the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, forcing several airline operators to reschedule their flights as the roads to the terminals were blocked by the angry students, causing the airlines and individuals to suffer heavy economic losses.

Read also: Court dismisses NANS’ case against ASUU

Most of the travellers had their flights cancelled, costing them lost time and money as they had to go back either to their various hotels or homes to avoid the wrath of the protesting students. As a country, our image was dented before the international community, and public fund was wasted on engaging a team of the police force and army to prevent the angry students from storming the Apapa sea port for a case that could have been settled amicably.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over the Federal Government’s failure to meet the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement, the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA) agreement.

Moreover, the Federal Government’s insistence on ‘no work, no pay’ policy did not go down well with the lecturers, who see the disposition as an attempt to victimise them for standing up for their rights.

As if to add salt to the injury, the Federal Government took the Union to the Industrial Court to force it back to the classroom. This disposition is obviously a demonstration of insensitivity to the plight of the Union, according to the lecturers.

To this, the students are not relenting as they have threatened to invoke more harm to the country by ensuring that economic activities are shut down if the Federal Government does not retrace its steps.

We believe strongly that the Federal Government, irrespective of its claims over ASUU, is not handling this issue appropriately. Forcing the lecturers back to the classroom is rather a military approach in a civilian government, and this must not be encouraged.

Dialogue has always been the better approach; it seems the government just forgot that even if you force a horse to the river, you can’t force it to drink water.

Taking ASUU to court and keeping the students on the streets are a colossal waste of public funds, which will amount to nothing meaningful, because the students will be out on the streets sooner than later; except the lecturers are engaged in a meaningful dialogue to resolve the impasse.

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