The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. BiodunOgunyemi, has declared nationwide indefinite strike of the body following the decisions reached at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last Sunday at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA). He said the strike became imperative due to poor funding of universities in the country.
He said: “Having waited patiently for action and meaningful negotiation with reasonable men using the principle of collective bargaining that ASUU at its NEC meeting of 3rd and 4th November 2018, at the FUTA, resolved to resume the nationwide strike it suspended in September 2017, with immediate effect.
“This strike will be total, comprehensive and indefinite. Our members shall withdraw their services until government fully implements all outstanding issues as contained in the MOA of 2017, and concludes the renegotiation of the 2009 agreements.
“We have today (Sunday) been subjected to 20 years of continued re-colonisation under alleged democracy in which all that the ruling circle have been regrouping among themselves in their various faction they called political parties.”
As the ASUU boss noted, for more than 20 years, issues of poor funding of universities and other tertiary institutions have been have been on the front burner of activities that lead to such strikes. ASUU and other unions of the academics in similar institutions have for the umpteenth time, lamented that apart from poor remuneration, government was not doing enough to provide adequate infrastructure, also to the benefit of spiralling student population in the tertiary institutions; government is not doing enough to encourage research and academic advancement in tertiary institutions and is not promoting the welfare of students as ought to be the case. These issues have been on the front burner yet, appropriate solutions have not been found.
But, the current ASUU strike came at a time the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) was leading other trade union bodies to the negotiation table over the demand for the payment of the revised minimum wage of N30,000 While the labour leaders were negotiating at the Tripartite Negotiation Table over the log-jam, ASUU already down tools, insisting it was government nonchalance that pushed them into the strike.
While The AUTHORITY reserves its comment on the looming labour nationwide strike, it must be emphasised that government’s approach to negotiation with labour leaders are less than satisfactory. For instance, it is yet to be understood why government remained in breach of series of agreements reached with ASUU and other trade union bodies. This smacks of good faith and portrays the government as extremely notorious doing 419.Persistent breach of agreements breeds distrust; it breeds loss of confidence; it breeds unfathomable negative consequences, which invariably leads to self-help. Breaches of agreements have painted the Nigerian government as unserious, even in the fight against corruption, criminality and other vices. It is gradually eating up our integrity at the international sphere.
For ASUU to even contemplate embarking on strike is bad enough, embarking on strike just about one year after it called off a protracted nationwide strike is terribly bad. But, we must emphasise that ASUU is not to blame. Government must review its labour negotiation strategy and immediately halt the recourse to last minute negotiations.
Some schools of thought have argued that those selected to negotiate with the labour unions should be remunerated only upon successful outcomes. It is the presumption that government negotiators are only interested inreceiving allowances rather than positive outcomes on their assignments. If their remuneration come upon successes achievedperhaps, they would carry out a more diligent assignment.
Similarly, it should be made compulsory that at the end of every negotiation, there should be time-lines to implement each negotiated outcome to avoid situations where we get into some lull due to non-implementation of agreements. Appropriate sanctions should therefore be meted out on the officials who delay the implementation of negotiated outcomes due to the consequences of their lax actions.
Even at than, The AUTHORITY calls on ASUU to call off this present strike in the interest of the students, majority of who had just resumed academic programme for the academic session. More importantly, in order not to get freshmen who are still being enrolled into the various faculties become disoriented, ASUU urgently needs to review the strike and pave way for more latitude for the implementation of the agreements.
The Minister of Education, MallamAdamuAdamu must weigh in and get all these logjam resolved. He must insist that transparency follows negotiated outcomes; he must insist that proper supervision prevail at the tertiary institutions; he must insist that our institutions regain their pre-eminence as citadel of learning and not just places where certificates are procured. And above all, he must ensure that institutions of higher learning restore the glory of their founding fathers as citadels for learning and character.