ASUU-FG faceoff: The way Forward By: Dr. Akin Fagbemi

The Author, Dr. Akin Fagbemi

Fellow Nigerians, on Sunday,
August 13, 2017, the Academic Staff Union
of Universities [ASUU] under the
leadership of Professor Biodun Ogunyemi declared a nationwide strike
due to the failure of the Federal government to implement the 2009 agreement
and Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013. As you are reading this, there
is a shut down of teaching, research and learning activities in our
institutions.


Founded in 1978,
replacing the Nigerian Association of
University
Teachers (NAUT;
established in 1965)
ASUU has a
history of militancy. Its first national strike was in 1988 to agitate for fair
wages and university autonomy, leading to its proscription that same year on
August 7 by General Ibrahim Badamosi
Babangida
. In 1990, it was unbanned two years after. 

Ex-Military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida…’First to call ASUU’s bluff’

Two years later, on August
23, it was banned. By September 3, 1992, a truce was reached. But again,
another two years later, in 1994, ASUU went on strike; it also did in 1996. All
those years were moments that the military dictatorships of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Sani Abacha reigned supreme.

Late General Sani Abacha….’He also stamped ASUU out of sight for a long while’

 It would appear that with the
advent of democracy in 1999, the academic union might shed its militant toga.
Barely three years into the democratic administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, ASUU was unsparing in its agitations for
rights of its members
in 2007, it went on
strike for 93 days and in 2008, it called for a two-week
warning strike demanding for improved salary scheme and reinstatement
of 49 lecturers that were kicked out of the University
of  Ilorin
.

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo….’He equally got a head ache from the ASUU Strike pill’

A year later, the union went
on another strike that lasted three months over disagreements it reached with
the Federal Government which the
latter was accused of not keeping. By October 2009, a Memorandum of
Understanding was signed by both parties and the strike was called off. There
was respite for about four years.
By July 1, 2013, ASUU
embarked on an industrial action that was only stopped in December
16
of that year. During that time the union continued to
press for the welfare of its members and sometimes for that of the students and
the state of government-owned universities. It is 2017, and the narratives of
ASUU has not changed.

Late President Umaru Yar Adua….’He took sad pill from ASUU strike in 2009′

The government of Nigeria is
only paying lip service to the education sector, Nigerian universities are chronically-underfunded. Should we talk
about the maggot-ridden toilets in halls of residence? Should we talk about the
crowded dormitories? Laboratories are without adequate instruments and materials
for practical sessions. In lecture theatres, students crouch, stoop, or stand
in the soul-benumbing struggle to gather learned dictations from uninspired
dons.
The Federal Government must
address the rot in the educational system, they must inject money to the sector
for the development of our centres of knowledge. The sector has been paralyzed
and it is hemorrhaging: the All Progressives Congress is now at the
centre so they must proffer a lasting and workable solutions to the quagmire
bewildering the sector. The collapse of Nigerian universities is the collapse
of Nigerian society as a whole.

President Muhammadu Buhari…’Can he take the ASUU Strike pill?

ASUU must
know that after several negotiations, promises of money will follow on the part
of the Federal Government, and the
strike will be called-off. Who then loses in this scenario? It is the students
who lose, and the education system. What are we projecting to the international
community as far as tertiary education is concerned in Nigeria? I, therefore, hope that ASUU will soften its stand during
its negotiations with the Federal Government on this current strike, while
calling-off the industrial action with immediate effect.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC Government’s Spokesman…’What will his Government do to eradicate the crisis of poor education in Nigeria?’

Moreover, inasmuch as I
support the strike being embarked by the Academic
staffs of Public Universities
, ASUU
must also be accountable: they must allow the Federal Government to go on with the Forensic audits. Also, they
should succumb to the Treasury Single Account [TSA].
The economic prosperity of
nations lie in creativity and inventions which drive productivity and value
worthy of intellectual property protection. The wealth of nations can be easily
assessed by quality and quantity of intellectual property rights. For Nigeria to be part of the cream of
leading economies in the world, it must be ready to increase the level of crea
tivity and volume of inventions on a global scale. However, this is driven by
the quality of manpower which is a direct product of the education sector

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