Hi, My name is Janet and I am a Nigerian student currently studying in University of Calabar (a Federal University in Cross River State, Nigeria).
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was formed in 1978, a successor to the National Association of University Teachers formed in 1965 and covering academic staff in all of the 1980s.
The objectives of ASUU are contained in the Rule two of the constitution of ASUU. It’s principal objectives are:
1.To organize all academic staff who are qualified for membership.
2.To regulate the relation between academic staff and employees and between members.
3. To establish and maintain a high standard of academic performance and professional practice.
4.To establish and maintain a just and proper conditions of service for its members.
5.To advance the education and training of its members.
6. To provide benefits and other assistance to its members.
7. To encourage the participation of its members in the affairs of the University system of the nation.
8. To protect and advance socio-economic and cultural interests of the nation.
9.To pursue such other objectives that are lawful and are not consisted with the spirit and practice of trade unionism (ASUU constitution, 1978 as amended in 1984).
In 1988 the union organized a National Strike to obtain fair wages and university autonomy. As a result, ASUU was proscribed on 7 August, 1988 and all its property seized. It was allowed to resume in 1990 but after another strike was again banned on 23 August, 1992 (Nwala, 1994). In 1994 and 1996 during the regime of Late Sani Abacha, ASUU carried out an Industrial action throughout the federation which lasted for more than one year over good working conditions and dismissal of staff. Also in 1999, when Obsanjo came into power as a civilian president, ASUU went on a nation wide strike which lasted for three months. Also in 2002, ASUU also embarked on a strike on December 29, 2002 after Obsanjo administration failed to implement the agreement between the union and the federal government. The strike lasted for two weeks. The issues in contention were underfunding of universities and the need to reinstate the “unjustly” sacked 49 lecturers of the University of Ilorin. In 2003, Nigerian Federal university students were at home for six months as ASUU embarked on another industrial action over non-implementation of previous agreements related to poor funding of federal universities and disparity in salary and retirement age of teachers. In 2005, University lecturers went on strike which lasted for two weeks. In 2006, all academic activities were put on hold in federal universities across the country when ASUU declared a three-day warning strike in 2006. The strike eventually lasted one week. The 2006 industrial action was followed by another one on March 26,2007. The reasons for the strike which lasted three months were pretty much same as the previous strikes. ASUU went on strike for one week in 2008 in demand of an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of the 49 lecturers dismissed in 2001 from the University of Ilorin. A court ruled that the University of Ilorin should reinstate the lecturers but the university ignored the ruling. Similarly, in 2009 ASUU also embarked on six months strike demanding for a revised salary structure and better working conditions. In 2010, ASUU embarked on another indefinite strike that lasted over five months. The strike started on July 22, 2010 and was not called off until January 2011.On June 2013, ASUU also embarked on nationwide strike which lasted between eight to nine months on the ground that the 2009 Federal Government-ASUU agreement and revisitalization of universities with 1.3 trillion naira over a period of six years has not being fulfilled as earlier promised. On August 17, 2017, ASUU again declared an indefinite strike over unresolved and contentious issues with the federal government. In 2018, ASUU declared an indefinite nationwide strike. The strike was over poor funding of Nigerian Federal Universities, an alleged plan by the federal government to increase students’ fees and introduce an education bank as well as non-implementation of previous agreement. ASUU has been on strike since March 2020 as a result of workers salaries being withheld for months.
The effects of ASUU strikes can also be categorized into two fundamental parts: Positive and Negative effect:
Under the positive effects: The funds released for infrastructure will be used to meet the immediate needs of federal universities. Those that will later join the academia and become professors will also benefit of retiring at 70 years. Those that will join the academia in time to come stand a chance to enjoy the special allowances that the current struggle will benefit.
Under the Negative effects: Disruptions in academic programs serve as non-motivational factor. In the long run, students soon forget about academics and are no longer interested/prepared for class activities which negatively affect their learning capabilities. The incessant strikes action by ASUU in Nigeria have disrupted the academic calendar of Federal Universities and this has affected students academic pursuit and performance. Also, lecturers may be unable to complete the course outline timely. Albar, a scholar(2016) went further to say that strikes have become synonyms with federal university education systems more than two decades ago and as university staff cannot be stopped from exercising their civil rights to industrial action and also, university students’ rights to learning should not be comprised. According to Adams and Nwogo(2014) revealed that ASUU strike has negative effect on the quality of University graduates that the country produces.
ASUU strike has breed disappointment, frustration, emotional and psychological trauma, lack of motivation which has sum up to non-conducive environment for effective learning in Nigerian Federal Universities, a situation that dampens human development and also, affects the student’s result. (Doublegist, 2014)
I have always been physically quiet when it comes to ASUU but I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of ASUU strike. Why do I feel ASUU is kinda greedy? Why do I feel ASUU just want to benefit from the pain of students in Nigerian Federal Universities? When I saw a news online where ASUU said they will shut down schools for four to six years to rennovate federal universities, I almost cried 😔. I’m so fed up 😭.
Possible Solutions to ASUU Strike: According to Dr. Omadeli Boyo, Pinecrest Specialist Hospitals, Lagos in Ebele, (2013) said the Federal Government and ASUU have a part to play. He outline a multi-prolonged approach to the issue:
The problem: “ASUU is complaining that they are supposed to be paid allowances for marking, teaching and supervising more than the acceptable number of courses and projects. They have been drawing government’s attention to outstanding allowances, I think that sometimes government signs agreements to get ASUU back to work; they are signed with the intention to break them as they are reached under duress”.
Government’s part: “Government has to learn to keep to bargains and meet up their obligations; they should not wait to be reminded. Again, instead of opening more universities, government should invest more in already existing universities and ensure they have enabling environment for academic pursuit. This includes ensuring that there are enough lecturers for students. Government is just interested in admitting students into the university and not asking themselves how many students a lecturer can handle”.
Checks and balances: “The federal government must ensure that lecturers are appropriately monitored, ensure they get to work on time and have enough to do, not just saying they are overworked and they are not getting allowances. There must be a system in place to assess what they are actually doing and then we will be able to know what constitutes excess work. If we cannot define what they are paid to do, how do we define when they are overworked?” Nigerian Federal universities need to be re-orientated in consonance with acceptable democratic and international standards at least to eliminate some of their internal challenges like corruption etc. Appointment of people into governing councils must be based on merit and not on political or ethnic affiliation.
Division of Labor: “We should revisit the issue of post-graduate universities; some universities should just face post-graduate studies and do more of research and training rather than lecturing undergraduates. In many modern universities, when students are very few in a department, you close down the department. When research and training are not going on in the university system, close down any department that cannot attract funding for research to face mainly undergraduate studies. But what we have now is like they say water everywhere, but nothing to drink. Now it is universities everywhere and no one is coming out with good degrees”.
ASUU’s part: “The lecturers should have a peer review mechanism in which the university system itself is able to assess lecturers and at the end of every semester, find out how many of these lecturers are really lecturing and what their workload is because some lecturers are overworked while some are just there doing nothing”. “Students complain that tutorials no longer hold. There used to be lectures and tutorials. You go for lectures and still have small group tutorials where graduate assists and other lecturers go through the main lectures with you in different ways. In today’s lecture halls, you have thousands of students gathered for one lecture and they hardly hear the lecturer. Universities should also ensure that sexual harassment is curbed. Instead of always going on strike; “ASUU should use internal mechanisms to ensure that government is reminded of these agreements and when the agreement is flouted, they should take pages in the newspapers and draw the attention of the media and the general public to how government is flouting the agreements. They could then appeal to the National Assembly’s Education committees, appeal to the president and after that, they could give an ultimatum and also, give a warning strike like one day without lectures”.
Strike action, as the last resort when negotiations fail simply derives from anger, resentment, rebellion and selfishness. Though strike actions have always gotten the attention of government in the past and possibly made them rethink on their stand, yet considering the popular saying that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffer”, trade unions and professional associations should rescind their constant decision to resort to strike action.
Everyone wants to be understood, nurtured and supported and this understanding, nurture and support can only come through adequate communication between the parties. Therefore, communication is central to the resolving of strikes. This can only be motivated through collective bargaining. The federal government and ASUU should in the interest of the nation, the educational institution, frustrated Nigerian students and the image of the nation, begin to listen to themselves, look beyond themselves and find common grounds of agreement rather than insisting on each other’ ways. One sure question for both Federal government and ASUU is: what is the future of Nigeria when the youths do not have a quality education? (Ebele,2013) (Reference: Journal of Research and Development,JRnD)
While we are at home:
•Let’s get ourselves busy with some productive trades.
•Do those things you love doing, for instance, I love blogging and that’s what I’ve been doing.
•Take a break/read novels/chill and watch netflix because this year has been crazy.
Remember to stay safe. I’m sending everyone lots of love and lights ❤.
The education of our youth should be a priority not an option; and strike action can never be the last resort when such priority is sought-after. #EndASUUtrike