Posted on :
2 Dec, 2013
2 Dec, 2013
ASUU – The media calls it breaking news. The news is that the Federal Government has given the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, one week ultimatum to call off the ongoing strike. The acting Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja.
This may not be unconnected to the frustration the union has put the government through in a bid to end the niggling strike. I think to some extent the members of ASUU are not considerate of students’ plight as they fight the government.
They are already losing the sympathy of average Nigerians, including this writer, who believe they had no genuine cause because of their latest demands on salary.
The government has virtually met most of the union’s demand but the ASUU members are bent on the immediate payment the four month wages in arrears. Simply put, ASUU wants to receive salary for the four months they refuse to work. I will allow my readers to judge that.
Before this development, Nigerians had been kept on suspense on the resumption day of the affected universities, thinking the union may call-off the almost five months old industrial action.
The ASUU embarked on an indefinite strike on July 1, 2013 following the failure of the Federal Government to implement part of the 2009 agreement reached by the two parties.
The union’s demands include the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70, adequate funding to revitalize the university system, progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26 per cent, transfer of Federal Government property to universities, setting up of research and development units by companies, payment of earned allowances and renegotiation of the signed agreement.
After a couple of meetings with government delegations, including President Goodluck Jonathan himself, it seems the niggling issue still haven’t gotten a head way.
As a matter of fact, in the course of negotiation and shuttling from locations for executive meetings, the union lost one of its stalwarts, Professor Festus Iyayi, former ASUU president and a lecturer in the University of Benin.
Despite dying on one of Nigerian death-traps called road and due to the reckless driving of government convoy, there was still no element of effort to end the strike in a bid to eulogize the innocent man who died in the cause.
Instead both ASUU and government continue to dilly-dally with the future of innocent university students. Both sides continue to accuse each other of insincerity. To be candid, both sides have not done enough to see to the long-lasting end to strikes in the universities.
For example, among the demands of the union, according to the Chairman of the University of Lagos branch of the union, Dr. Karo Ogbinaka, is the payment of earned allowances which included excess workload, administrative responsibilities, and postgraduate supervisory allowances, among others. He further said that a professor who supervises postgraduate theses is supposed to be paid N15,000 per student, adding: “The Federal Government has not paid any lecturer the theses supervisory allowance. Logically, this demand is uncalled for.
If the student who spend a lot of money on projects materials, researches and all that is not demanding for project grant, I don’t think a professor that only sits down in his office or anywhere convenient to supervise the same project should go on strike because he wants to be paid for supervision. As a matter of fact, many lecturers only lecture for few hours in a week and many times miss their classes.
This does not affect their wages in anyway. Thus, I don’t think the same person should demand for extra allowances for perceived excess workload.
The union is already divided as some universities are already threatening to end their strike. As a matter of fact, Adekunle Ajasin University is already recruiting lecturers to replace the striking ones. This goes a long way in extrapolating the insincerity of the cause itself. More so, it also goes a mile in telling us that even the union within itself know that its strike is unjust.
Despite all the efforts and promises by government, the union remains adamant on its own outrageous demands. Thus, the government which is being saddled with too much responsibilities have no choice than to coax the union back to work.
With the new directive by the government to members of ASUU to return to work or face the ax, only demonstrate how much the union has frustrated the effort of the government in order to settle the long running strike.
There are more issues to dwell on, than spending a lifetime to settle the demands of the academic union. The union just has to shift grounds to accommodate the government and its incessant pleading.