The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Strike in Nigeria
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is the union for Nigeria’s university academic staff. It was founded in 1978 as an offshoot of the Nigerian Association of University Teachers. This article explores the ASUU Strike and the Federal Government’s response to the strike. It also examines the effects of the strike on the Nigerian society.
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)
ASUU is the union of university academic staff in Nigeria. It was founded in 1978 as an offshoot of the Nigerian Association of University Teachers. The aim of the union is to ensure that academic staff in universities get their due respect and recognition. It also works to improve the working environment in universities by addressing issues of discrimination.
In 2007 the union embarked on a three-month industrial action. This led to several face-offs with the Federal Government. The next two years saw the union embark on a series of industrial actions.
ASUU’s strike action was triggered by the sacking of 49 lecturers at the University of Ilorin. The strike lasted only a week in 2007, but in 2009, it lasted for four months. This was after the government and ASUU signed the 2009 Memorandum of Action (MoA). The government’s inability to implement the MoA led to the strike. The strike action was suspended in December 2020.
The ASUU strike is a major concern because it has repercussions throughout society. The strike has impacted academic performance and has posed a challenge to the nation.
Federal Government’s response
The Federal Government’s response to ASUU’s strike has been highly disappointing. The academic staff union has called on well-meaning citizens to hold the government to account for its inaction. Its national president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has urged people to get involved and speak out for the academic staff.
ASUU’s strike has kept many Nigerian university students at home. The union has argued that the Federal Government is ignoring their education and has been deducting dues on their behalf. ASUU has reacted to the government’s response with a demand for a change in legislation that would ensure that the government is not ignoring university education.
While well-meaning stakeholders attempted to negotiate an amicable solution, the Federal Government’s reaction shows its insensitivity. The National Industrial Court’s order to ASUU is a clear indication that the government is not sincere. Moreover, it is a clear violation of section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act.
Impact on Nigerian society
The Strikes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria have affected various sectors of the society. In the past two decades, the union has declared sixteen nationwide and local strikes, with some of them lasting months. The union has also threatened a total shutdown if its demands are not met.
The strikes have also affected the academic programmes at public universities in Nigeria. The university strikes will continue until ASUU and government agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. In the mean time, students may lose their focus and engage in social vices. The strike action is affecting the nation’s unity, peace, and security. Several university students have also shifted to different universities abroad because of the strike.
The strikes in public universities have caused students to lose confidence in the institution. Many students have started engaging in criminal activities. In addition to that, many students have lost faith in their studies. Consequently, a student who should have graduated within four years will spend six years in school due to the strike.
Future of union
The future of the union for ASUU is in a delicate balance. While a union must maintain its independence, the needs of its members must be considered first. In terms of funding, the union must be able to offer an adequate package for the public universities and allow universities to operate autonomously. This can be achieved if both parties are willing to negotiate openly.
However, the strike is already affecting the lives of the students. While most students have found jobs or other ways of generating income, some have planned not to return to the classroom. While a high salary might tempt students to skip school, poor performance can lead to academic fraud.
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