ANALYSIS: TRAGEDY BEHIND THE BAIT BETWEEN, FG, NANS AND ASUU

Usman Mustapha writes,

On January 3, 2019, the leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), under the auspices of Comr. Danielson Bamidele, met with President Muhammad Buhari over the ongoing strike. The meeting captured the released of press statements and video by the organization, which were believed to be libellous towards the ideology of the striking Academic senior staff of the University, Asuu. This birthed mixed feelings towards the claims by the leadership of the Union.

The statements which go thus,
“If there was nothing Asuu was hidden from the students, why would it be in two occasions reject their representatives?

He further said, ” it’s only in Nigeria you have educational sector sold into as it were, without recourse to students; without giving a thought to the challenges, it brings to the sector ” (Vanguard Newspaper)
According to him, Danielson Bamidele, described Asuu as a selfish and hypocritical Union.

Recall that the ongoing Asuu strike was launched on the 5th day of Nov. 2018, Stating in their released memorandum, the comatose state of the Education sector in the country. The strike is arguably sited to solve the impasse associated with with Nigeria educational sector. The lagging of our educational system varying from lack of sufficient classrooms, Lab facilities for science courses and others tools are believed to be a secondary objectives by the NANS leaders.

Thus, the devastating educational system suffers by the students and parents summoned the cooperation of the students to move vast for an undiluted transfer of knowledge and a better future. The conditions passed by the Union on the 5th of Nov, 2018 are not in anyway asking for increment in salaries and/or an unrecognized allowances, the claimed were basically on the 2009, 2013 and 2017 agreement.

Different analysts stood up to emphasize the precision behind the supporting hands lend by the executives of NANS – the claim that the students constituency alone can garner over 20 millions votes in the coming 2019 general election for the president.

PEN PRESS, however presents a scorecard of the bait planned by the FG, NANS and the veracity of ASUU industrial action over the years.

*Precipitous decline of the Educational system*

The sector has been subscribed to taking the least percentage in  annual fiscal documents. The 2017 budget allocated 7 per cent of the total budget to education contrary to the stipulated 15 to 20 per cent proposed by UNESCO.

Recall that the incumbent administration targeted, amongst the promises made, 20 per cent to the critical sector and making substantial investment in training quality teachers at all level. A failed promise? After 2 years in office, the unfulfilled agreement brought the 2017 strike. A strike that hit 5 weeks before it was later called off with the agreement of fulfilling the promise and max increase of percentage to sector.

The incessant strike action in Nigeria’s colleges, polytechnics, Universities at different time during Buhari administration has crippled the sector more than expected.

In the midst of the fuss, was the close down of LAUTECH for about a year due to lack of proper funding by the two sponsor states( Oyo and Osun State government) and the proposed increment of Universities’ fee.

*Increment of University Fee*

It should be recalled that in 2012, the then administration, under the leadership of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan released a statement through Steve Oransaye-led committee, recommending an alternative clue for funding Universities by proposing a new fee regime of 450,000 naira and above for non science related courses and 525, 000 naira for science-related courses. Thou this might have come to fruition had it been the Government retained power in 2015. But it seems otherwise when the Buhari led administration resumed office and promised for betterment of the students.

The dispute between the two axis has once again brought such proposed implementation of increase in University fee which was rejected by the Academic senior staff of the University.

The Buhari’s Government through Wale Babalakin, also proposed 350,000 naira and above for non science courses and 500,000 naira upwards for science courses. This brought the immediate rejection by Asuu and proclaimed it to be a  public funding.

In a news reported by The punch on Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018, The Zonal coordinator of Asuu, Ibadan zone, Dr Ade Adejumo raised an alarm over the proposed increment in the University fee.

“He said while addressing the Journalists, that, it was vital for Asuu to let the public know that there could be labour crises in federal Universities, adding that the proposal led to the breakdown 2017/18 renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU agreement.
He however said, the Union rejected the proposal in the ground that the constitution of the federal republic of  Nigeria clearly States that funding education is the sole responsibility of the Governments at various level and not the parents. (Punch.ng).

*Asuu Demands, Conditions and take*

The better off – fight for the Nigeria’s educational system, started ever since 1992, demanding better funding for Nigeria Universities. This last long to 2007, when an agreement was reached and signed in 2009 by the FG. The failure to execute the agreement resulted in the 2012 strike by the lecturers. A strike that last for 6 months.

The agreement reached by the two parties was to pay 200bn yearly for the necessary implementation of projects.

Ever since then, the Government has failed to yield to the promise, setting ablaze the patient minds of the lecturers in 2017. The organization embarked on a 2 weeks warning strike before later went on 5 weeks industrial action in 2017.

Despite the busy road to 2019 election, the Union declared, on 4th of Nov.2018, to embark on total, indefinite and comprehensive strike starting on 5th of Nov. 2018. The statement released by the head of the Organization, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi with a set up conditions passed in to memorandum by the Union.

The Five major demands of Asuu;

– Areas of agreement include funding for revitalization of public universities and the issue of Earned Academic Allowances.
– The issue of University Staff Schools.
– The implementation of the judgment of the National Industrial Court, National Universities Pension Management Company and guidelines for pension matters for professors.
– The exemption offered by the government regarding the issue of TSA, which included the issue of grants, endowment funds as well as salary shortfall, which is already being implemented by the government.
– The union also promised to submit a position paper to the Federal Government on their observation with a view for government to advise state governments.

According to Usmanu Danfodiyo, University, ASUU chairman, Dr Sabo Yabo, he said that the unwanted intervention of Dr Wale Babalakin, who is the head of FG delegation with Asuu, based on the fact of being a proprietor of a private University in Nigeria and not having good intention towards the Union working for the country worsen the situation.

*20 Millions bail out*

Looking into the matter in different angles, President, Muhammadu Buhari could have not much options than meeting the representatives of NANS for a persuasive discussion and turning the students against their lecturers. The side, the Union leaders(NANS) took aftermath.

                    Watch the video, now.
                     Video Credit: Bashir Turawa

It was reported after the meeting with NANS, that the President urged the NANS representative to plead to their striking lecturers so as not to seize their timely graduation.
” I urge you (Students) to continue to plead with the academic senior staff of the University, ASUU. I will equally talk to them so, they don’t ‘encroach’ on your efforts to qualify in time”

Though, the administration is believed to solving infrastructures, fixing rails and roads in every part of the country. He however urge the Labour Unions to let his administration concentrate much better on infrastructure rather than distracting him.

*Treacherous Acts of the Union (NANS)*

A statement was released by the NANS President, Danielson Bamidele, accusing their lecturers of being hypocritical.

This was released after the students’ representative were on two different meetings ruled out by the Union representatives to participate or observe the meeting, claiming that the students werenot being part of the discussion before.

“If there was nothing hidden from the students, why would it be in two occasions reject their representatives?”

According to him Asuu were described as a selfish and hypocritical Union.

He also, in a video culled from NTA, doing the meeting with President Muhammad Buhari, promised the Government of 20millions vote from the students if action to halt the strike is taking with immediate effect.

After the video and the press statements credited to the NANS president, Bamidele Akpan, on the ongoing strike went viral, students have shown their grievous feelings both on social networks and written forms by accusing the acts as a treacherous one and the need for urgent apology.

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