...Redifining Journalism for Development

Random Cogitations with Prof MK Othman


ASUU Suspended Strike, can this be the last strike?
ASUU strike has been an everlasting struggle that has made Nigerian University education to be what it is today. It is a matter of opinion; some may think the standard of university education is lower than what it should be while others hold the view that the standard is still relatively good despite the herculean challenges. Whichever stand one is taking, the fact is, Nigerian graduates (past and present) are faring better in Europe, America and Asia compared to graduates of other African universities. Many first-degree graduates of universities in Nigeria are excelling in America. This is a verifiable fact. There are many factors responsible for this oddity; it is another story for another time.
ASUU must be given credit for maintaining the university education to its present standard. Remove ASUU from the quadratic equation of Nigerian university system, a tertiary education funded by government, the universities will become the equivalent of LEA primary schools. Many of us in the 1970s went through LEA primary schools but how many of us can send their children to LEA primary schools today? One cannot but appreciate ASUU struggles (strikes) without which we will not be talking about public owned universities in Nigeria today.
Can this be the last strike? It is likely at least for a long time to come. First, the posture of the APC led Federal Government is different from the mien of the previous administrations from IBB to GEJ. All the past regimes intimidated and threatened ASUU when the union started strikes until they (governments) yielded to the pressure mounted by the persistent and indefatigable ASUU.
There was no intimidation or threat of “no work, no pay”. Secondly, it is the first time the government admitted inability to fulfill its part of past negotiations with the union. Thirdly, this year’s ASUU indefinite strike is the shortest; started 13th August and ended 18thSeptember 2017 compared to previous ones which lasted between three and five months. The truth is, this government has an ample opportunity to end the perennial ASUU strike for good by not only negotiation with the union but properly funding the university education. Yes, education is expensive but not as costly as illiteracy.
NASU, SSANU and NAAT Suspended Strike Action
The Chairman of the Joint Action Committee of three non-academic staff unions of Nigerian Universities, Mr. Sam Ugwoke, announced the suspension of the 11 days strike action embarked upon by members of the three unions. The members of the three unions, NASU, SSANU and NAAT, announced the suspension of their 11 days old strike on Thursday, 19th September but will resume work on 25th September, 2017. The suspension was one of the outcomes of the unions’ meeting with government delegation led by Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige.
The unions have a ritual habit of embarking on a strike action whenever the union of academic staff, ASUU is on strike. Solidarity? No! It is not a solidarity strike. It is done to remind government that they, the non-academic staff should not be forgotten when offering something to the academic staff. Take a look at their catalogue of demands: payment of earned allowances to their members; review of governance system in universities; improved funding of universities in line with UNESCO recommendations; provision of infrastructure in the universities; payment of salary shortfalls being owed; implementation of the National Industrial Court judgment on university staff schools; registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company, NUPEMCO, and the implementation of CONTISS 14 and 15 for technologists.
Many of these demands are similar to the demands made by ASUU. It is high time that the government takes a holistic approach to address labor matters in the university sector and find a lasting solution to these recurrent issues.

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