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2020 ASUU/FG face-off, longest in 10 years

ASUU set for action over part salary payment

The ongoing face-off between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which as of today Tuesday 22, December 2020 stands at 274 days is the longest in the last 10 years. An analysed timeline of strikes has shown.

In the last ten years, students in Federal and some State-owned universities across Nigeria have been forced to spend over 732 days away from lecture halls according to data analysed. This is about 17 times since 2010 meaning every five months across the academic calendar year, students had to stay at home making students to lag behind academically and increase the rate of crime in the country.

A breakdown of the timeline of the strikes since 2010 revealed that in 2010, students stayed away from class for 157 days, in 2011, it was lesser as only 90 days was wasted. The strike started in December 2011 and ended in March 2012.

According to the data analysed, in 2013, the strike lasted for 150 days, 2014 to 2015 witnessed no strike action, but in 2016, the academic union of universities only down tooled for seven days. In 2017, the strike lasted for 35 days, 2018 witnessed a 19 days short out while the ongoing 2020 strike which ASUU embarked on in March 23 till have spent 274 date.

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ASUU the umbrella body of lecturers in both Federal and State universities commenced a nationwide strike on March 23, 2020, following the inability of the Federal Government to address the issues raised even after several negotiations.

The litany of strikes has made some parents lose interest in the educational system in Nigeria, as those who can afford educational systems outside Nigeria have started pursuing it. Some have even vowed that their children will not school in this kind of educational system.

Some parents who are not financially buoyant will have to go through the stress of reproviding, because students have consumed their resources while some perishable will perish. Failure to re-provide will cause the students to go hungry as there will be nothing for them to eat for the remaining semester when the strike is called off.

Many students pay less attention to their books during the strike period which tends to affect them greatly when they resume.

Blessing Igbah who said, “I haven’t opened my book for a long time and am not sure I will be able to recollect what has been taught before the strike.” Many students like Blessing would not be able to perform well academically when the strike is called off.

The rich who can afford to take their children to private schools where their academic calendar is not affected graduate before the poor who are not able to send their children there which makes the rich get to some basic aspects of life before the poor.

The strike has further increased the rate of crime and immorality in the country. Many youths who wanted to explore have seen the opportunity of becoming what they want to be, many have been influenced by peer pressures into taking drugs, smoking, and becoming cultists. Some females have gotten pregnant, had series of abortion and would have joined prostitution.

Looking at the timeline, the number of times ASUU has gone on strike is evidence of long time decaying structure of the education system.

Concerned industry experts have called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities to be at the forefront of generating bankable knowledge products that can address national challenges like the Covid-19 than embark on needless industrial actions.

“Universities are supposed to be at the frontier of knowledge, they are supposed to be conducting policy-relevant research, they are supposed to be generating knowledge products that are bankable”, says Olumide Ayodele, Technical Adviser to the DirectorGeneral, Budget Office of the Federation.

Following the lengthy period of industrial action by university lecturers, government both at the state and federal level would be losing billions of revenue coming from paying lecturers after the strike for services not rendered as well as cost of maintaining utilities such as vehicles and generating sets in the university community.

The ripple effect analysts noted would mean continued wastage of resources for low

productivity and production of poor quality students among others.

Aside from this loss of revenue to the universities, concerned education watchers while analysing other effects of the industrial action pointed out that there is also the issue of depressing effect on the quality of graduates from the universities since time lost due to strikes that should be used for delivering the curriculum is not gained after the strike. A situation they maintain accounts for the production of half –baked products.

The federal government in its last offers to ASUU leadership, pledged to pay 40 billion naira as earned allowance and 30 billion naira for the revitalisation of the university system, bringing the total payment to 70 billion naira. It also accepted the demand by ASUU that they be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Management (IPPIS) pending the approval of their proposed payment system.