THE news of the suspension of the protracted eight months long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU)on February14, 2022 was received with mixed reactions by many Nigerians. On the first hand, people were happy because order and academic activities would return to our ivory towers and Nigerian students who have wasted about eight months of their precious lives will have the opportunity to return to campus again to continue their studies. On the other hand, Nigerians were really upset because both the government and ASUU allowed the dispute to drag this far without minding the consequences on the students and socio-economic development of the country.
INDEED, the pertinent questions include why the strike. How did major gladiators in the dispute allow it to drag this far, and what do we need as to put in place as a community of people that seek to grow and develop like other progressive countries of this world to ensure that this ugly experience do not reoccur? This is essential because strikes by universities workers in the country are becoming too rampant and unbecoming in a society that has majority of her population in the youthful age group.
ALSO, available records revealed that Nigerian universities are not rated well among the best universities in the world mainly due to incessant strikes. Therefore, we join many Nigerians to condemn the protracted strike that kept thousands of Nigerian future leaders at home idle for eight months. We particularly finger the government and ASUU leadership that permitted the destructive debilitating action to persist this far. This is in addition to the unenviable degrading records of about 20.5 million Nigerian children that are out of school in a society in which education is regarded as pivotal to human and national development.
ASUU embarked on the industrial action to compel government to honour the agreement it signed with the union in 2009 and to revitalize the universities that are already decaying. The government on its part insisted that it did not have the funds to implement the agreement.
THE suspension of the strike by ASUU was hinged on an agreement brokered by the leadership of the House of Representatives. The patriotic Nigerians that worked tirelessly to ensure that the longest strike is brought to an eventual end deserve commendation. We therefore laud the Speaker and members of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as other Nigerians who showed concern and ensured the strike was suspended.
THE HOPE cautions that this recent agreement between government and ASUU must not be allowed to go the way of past agreements that were not respected and hence the long strike. Thus, the agreement must be respected and faithfully implemented by the government that is notorious for renegading on past agreements and memoranda of actions. Of course, this was what prolonged the current strike because of lack of trust in government to honour agreements. The government must ensure that issues that led to the strike are laid to rest since ASUU while suspending the strike indicated that the issues in dispute have yet to be substantially addressed by government.
TO ensure that government did not renege on the agreement, ASUU should make contents of the agreement public so that members of the public can monitor and follow its implementation to ensure compliance as a means of preventing future strikes since the strike was only suspended and not totally called off despite the fact that both sides to the dispute had enough time to undertake the needful.
SINCE academic staff have stayed this long from their work, management of the Universities should ensure reorientation for the lecturers while their various academic calendars should be quickly reviewed to guarantee early and smooth return of the Universities to normalcy so as to be able to gain some of the lost grounds and time.
MEMBERS of ASUU must show patriotism and commitment to help bring back the glory of our universities by hard work and commitment to the growth of the Universities that formed part of what motivated them to embark on the strike in the first instance. They must seek to convince Nigerians that they really meant well for the country and her people by the recent strike.
ALSO, ASUU should change its style of conflict resolution and be less combative since it is clear that government has not demonstrated responsibility and commitment to give the desire priority to education and human development in our society.
THE union must come to terms with the need for university administrators to look for other ways of augmenting government subventions to public universities if inadequate funding is to be fully addressed.