• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigerians fear ASUU strike could lead to academic apathy

ASUU set for action over part salary payment

Nigerians have expressed fears that the ongoing strikes from both the academic and non-academic staff of the country’s universities could lead to academic apathy.

Also, they urged universities to seek other robust means of internally generated revenue sources to foster learning.

It is no longer news that the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) has directed members nationwide to embark on a two-week warning strike from Monday, March 28, 2022.

This is in solidarity with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over unresolved issues with the federal government to cripple both academic and administrative activities in Nigeria’s public universities.

Adebayo Olatunde, a student, fears the situation has gotten to a point in the country where the people seem to be clueless on how to solve systemic issues sustainably.

“Majority of the clamour of these unions is stale and has existed for a decade and it is mind-boggling to know that till now they have not been solved. The Nigerian students have to go through strike after strike which is terrible for their education and can lead to academic apathy if not solved quickly,” Olatunde said.

Similarly, Philip Okafor, a social crusader, frowned at the idea of using strikes to solve national and social issues rampant in Nigeria’s public sector.

“For me, whatever the reasons or motives for embarking on strike are, I do not buy into it. First, experience and history have shown that strike has never been, and will never be the best option as a matter of personal view. There should always be room for proper negotiations and resolutions no matter the weight of the accumulated grouse (s).

“We should always bear in mind that ‘two wrongs cannot make a right’. I am an apostle of following due process when it comes to issues around labour laws. Yes, the government may sometimes be insensitive to people’s plight, but that does not mean that SSANU and NASU should compound the seemingly compounded state of affairs in our institutions of higher learning.

“As the saying goes ‘when two elephants fight, it is the ground that pays the supreme or ultimate price. Our students are at the receiving end of the unremitting industrial actions that have characterised our ivory tower. I am totally against the planned strike. More options can be explored in seeking a permanent panacea to the current issues affecting our educational institutions.

“I am using this medium to appeal to SAANU and NASU to sheathe their sword and embrace dialogue. The voice of reasoning should always be adhered to and the path of the peaceful resolution be towed,” Okafor stated.

Read also: ASUU and our knowledge system

For Friday Erhabor, a public affairs analyst it is obvious that the federal government is neither capable nor committed to funding tertiary education.

Hence, he advocated that the management of federal tertiary education should put on their thinking cap and start thinking of alternative sources of funds outside government.

“Professional courses in tertiary education should start thinking of how to commercialise their skills and competencies. Let, for instance, the mechanical engineering department start opening workshops to commercialise their services.”

“The civil engineering department should incorporate companies that will commercialize their skills. This served two purposes; revenue generation and as a platform for students to have practical knowledge of their various courses,” he said.

Elizabeth Ohaka, an educationist noted that the situation is very depressing since SSANU and NASU joined ASUU in the strike.

“That means there is going to be a complete shutdown in our universities and unfortunately our children are going to bear the brunt of this. The truth is the whole country needs to even shut down because nothing seems to be working in every corner; the cost of things have skyrocketed, no fuel, the insecurity issue is still lingering.

“This government seems to be a total failure, if I might say it, the government has proven itself in any area. I do not blame them for going on strike. It is not a good development at all,” she said.

Ohaka hopes the country gets a better leader that will take education and the welfare of the people at heart come the next election.

Recall that ASUU had, on February 14, commenced a four-week warning strike due to the alleged inability of the federal government to address the union’s demands.

At the end of the four weeks, the strike was rolled over for another eight weeks, while the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) commenced its own two-week industrial strike last week.

JAC over the weekend in a memo addressed to the leadership of the unions’ branches across the country directed them to ensure total compliance to the two-week warning strike.

According to a statement signed by Mohammed Ibrahim and Peters Adeyemi, the president of SSANU, and secretary of NASU respectively, “In view of the nonchalant attitude of the government to our demands, this is to direct our members in all universities and inter-university centres throughout the country to commence a two-week strike in the first instance as earlier conveyed to the federal government in our letter.

“Please note that the two-week warning strike should be comprehensive and total as no concession should be given under any guise. Your strict compliance and adherence to this directive are mandatory for all branches of NASU and SSANU in the universities and inter-university centres.”

JAC had, in a letter addressed to Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment, and dated March 16, 2022, accused the government of insincerity in its implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) reached with the government in October 2020 and February 2021. The unions had given a two-week ultimatum to the government to implement its demands, issuing ‘red alerts’ to members.