ASUU Strike: A Plot To Disenfranchise Nigerian Students During 2019 Polls -By Obiora Okeke

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

The Academic Staff Union of Universities – ASUU which was founded in 1978, succeeded the then Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965 and covering academic staff in all of the Federal and State Universities in the country.

The Union which had engaged in series of industrial actions in a quest for University Autonomy, Welfare and an increase in education standard over the years had also continued in her active struggles against the government as they had embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike over implementation of 2009 agreement regarding the decay in public universities, disregard of agreements reached with the union in 2013 and 2017, as well as the failure to pay the arrears of the shortfall in salaries, even after the presidential initiative on continuous audit verification by the federal government on 4th November, 2018.

I’ve always actively advocated for ASUU’s demand to be met as her demands are genuine even when many persons have argued that the strike was politically oriented. My thoughts, hope and opinions of many Nigerian Students over politicizing of ASUU Strike was thrown to the wind yesterday after the striking lecturers (ASUU) agreed to work with INEC despite her ongoing strike action.

We’ve remained committed to the struggle with ASUU as we’ve all hoped that the government will consider the demand of ASUU since General Election is close as members of ASUU, students and NYSC members are always engaged as INEC adhoc staff during elections.

We anticipated that the threat of we not participating in 2019 elections will be a major reason why FG should be compelled to meet to the demands of striking lecturers. It’s very disappointing that after remaining committed to the struggle with our lecturers, we were left to wonder in the wild forest of thoughts as our lecturers have accepted to work with INEC and never considered the students suffering because of her strike actions.

We’ve been left with no option than to believe that ASUU strike was politically oriented. Before Christmas, ASUU and FG negotiating Team had always met every week and yet all we get at the end is that “The meeting ended in deadlock.”

We continued to hope that we’ll hold them hostage via 2019 polls not until 3rd January, 2019, when the leadership of NANS after declaring a protest against FG and ASUU, dashed our Confidence in them as they visited President Buhari, issued birthday card as well as promising him 20 Millions votes while we students continue suffering from ASUU strike when education should be the priority of the government.

We had believed that ASUU will remain firm in her decision of been committed to the struggle till the end not until yesterday 4th January, 2019 when they agreed to work with INEC as ad-hoc staff. This is a great sabotage to Nigerian Students at home… We are all at home today because of ASUU strike. We expected ASUU to boycott everything that has nothing to do with meeting to her demand but it’s quiet unfortunate that greed wouldn’t allow some focus and remain committed to their struggle.

Also, President Buhari on 3rd January, 2019 while playing host to Executive Committee of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in the State House, Abuja had appealed to labour unions in the country to allow his administration concentrate on fixing infrastructure, rather than distracting it. What I draw from it is that the Presidency aren’t ready either to meet to the demand of the union as they consider it a distraction to their administration even when their demands are genuine..

At this point, I believe everyone is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that ASUU Strike has been politicized.
Have you asked yourself Why didn’t INEC demand for the suspension of ASUU strike rather, they’re only interested in getting striking lecturers work with them and forget about the millions of students that’ll be disenfranchised as a result of the ongoing strike action.

Most students have their PVC’s registered in their various schools. How would they vote when they’re home because of ASUU Strike. If FG, INEC, ASUU and NANS are really interested in ensuring none is disenfranchised come 2019 polls which is one of our human right, a better solution would have been reached before now.. We’re less than 6 weeks to General Elections yet nothing reasonable have been concluded.

Dear Nigerian Student, it’s clear to us all that the struggle has been sabotaged. We’ve been left to ponder and wonder after been abandoned in the wild forest as we all remain jobless without hope in our various homes.

Is it a crime to school in Nigeria?
Education which should be the Government’s priority isn’t what it is.
If ASUU strike continues, the implication is that millions of students will be disenfranchised as they won’t be able to cast their votes.
Is this the way forward?

I therefore use this medium to appeal to all necessary and concerned authorities to please come to the aid of Nigerian Students.
We want to return to classes.
We want to cast our votes.
We want to roundoff our projects and graduate just like our colleagues studying outside the country.
We want a better academic structure.
We want a better education in Nigeria.

May God help us all and grant us success.

Obiora Okeke
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

You can connect with Okeke on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @amobioraokeke. Mail: [email protected]