ASUU strike: Nigeria’s Education Sector Recurring Nightmare -By Labaran Yusuf

Filed under: Educational Issues,National Issues |

It was bound to happen!

After days of rigorous meetings, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), decided to embark on yet another total and indefinite strike action. “All means of negotiation had been exploited before the decision on an indefinite strike action was reached” said the body’s president, Biodun Ogunyemi.

Not the first time of struggle between the ASUU and Government.
Ever since its rebranding in 1978, ASUU, a successor to the Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965, have been engage in an ‘on-and-off’ struggle with various Nigerian governments – both military regimes and civilian democratic governments in seemingly protracted disagreements over issues ranging from: wages and allowances; poor funding of universities; reinstatement of dismissed lecturers; review on the retirement age of lecturers; university autonomy among others.

Revisiting ASUU’s notable strike actions.

After the union’s banning and subsequent resumption in the early 90s due to strike actions, the ASUU organized further strikes in 1994 and 1996 under Sani Abacha’s military regime.

With the return to democracy in 1999 – Nigerian fourth Republic, the ASUU have been engaged in series of strike: the 2001 strike that lasted for 3months;the notorious strike of 2003 (lasted for 6months, ended in 2004); three months strike in 2007; two one-week ‘warning strikes’ in 2008; June 2009 indefinite strike (lasted for 3months); 2011 two-months strike over non compliance of the 2009 agreement, and the lately 2013 notorious strike action that lasted for over 5months.

Significance of University as centre for learning.

University, worldwide is regarded as the citadel of learning, the fountain of intellectual development and a ground for the production of leaders of tomorrow. The role of universities in human capital development, research and technological innovation cannot be under evaluated.

All over the world investment in University education is a critical component of national development effort. Nations today depend increasingly on knowledge, ideas and skills which are produced through researches in the universities.

Effect of strikes on Nigerian University students.

Firstly, strikes elongate the study duration of University students. Students that are meant to spend four to five years to finish their first degree end up spending six to seven years in the University. Invariably, the academic calendar of Universities are distorted. This leads to prolonged school years that exceeds the stipulated period.

Secondly, strikes have psychological effects on students. Depression during strike periods lead to evil practices among students. Some engage in criminal activities such as armed robbery, internet fraud, kidnapping, prostitution, and rape among others.

Thirdly, ASUU strikes have placed limitations on the aspiration of many brilliant students by hampering their academic activities. It is no surprise and farfetched, government education policies and the associated inactions and the strike embarked upon by members of ASUU, will contribute to the poor academic performance of the University students in Nigeria. This at the end will lead to students graduating with poor grades.

Poor Nigerian student have suffered a lot.

Although the threat posed by incessant strike actions are of an outstanding challenge to any government in Asokoro, Nigeria’s tertiary institutions should not be left to decline – if not decay, as many other important sectors have followed this one-way path of no return.

Finally, Nigerian Universities shouldn’t be turned into battle grounds for struggle between the government and some labour unions. Universities cannot be locked up permanently and think the ASUU and government will move about comfortably!

About the Author: freelance writer and researcher with expertise on European, Middle-eastern, African and the Americas politics. Also a student with University of Jos.

Labaran Yusuf contributed this piece from Jos, Plateau State.