The African proverb says, ‘When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled’. This means that if the matter between Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU), and the Federal Government is not settled, the students who are the grasses in the above mentioned proverb will suffer.
It is no more news that the ASUU had on November 15th, given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to meet their demand and their failure to meet its demands would lead to another fresh strike by the union.
The three weeks ultimatum given to the federal government was for them to meet the promise made in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) of December 23, 2020, and issues related to the draft renegotiated agreement of May 2021 was not signed at the end of August.
The other outstanding issues that are yet to be resolved include: funding for revitalisation of public universities and earned academic allowances. In addition to that, the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) promotion arrears, renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in IPPIS payment, which up till now has not been addressed.
Despite that fact, the federal government failed to meet the demand of ASUU even after the expiration of three weeks ultimatum given to them. This has clearly shown that the federal government does not give any priority to our educational system in Nigeria and this strike would cause a lot of damages to the lives of students together with our educational system in the country.
Let me go back to the topic of my write-up, which is what is the fate of Nigerian students if ASUU eventually embarks on a fresh strike? The memories of numerous ASUU strikes in Nigeria are still fresh in our memory and the students have not recuperated from the nine-month strike embarked upon by ASUU in 2020.
Any student who entered the University in 2017 would have experienced several industrial strike actions by ASUU three times, one month in 2017, four months in 2019, and nine months in 2020.
However, our hope of graduating from the university at the right time has been murdered by the industrial action by ASUU.
Recently, one of the students of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), said if ASUU embarks on another strike, he would be forced to drop out of the university. During the last strike embarked upon by ASUU, some students of UDUS had a fatal accident while going home when ASUU embarked on strike, while some lost their lives when they were coming back to school. Had it been ASUU didn’t embark on strike, maybe they wouldn’t have lost their lives to the cold death. What the Federal Government doesn’t understand is that they are the cause of their death and this was due to their ineptitude towards the educational system in Nigeria.
The job market is saturated and there is no assurance that the students would get jobs after graduation, but despite that fact, the Federal Government is still playing with the future of Nigerian students.
The lack of standard of the educational system in Nigeria could be traced to the lack of proper funding of our public tertiary institutions in Nigeria and what the federal government fails to understand is that education is very crucial in ensuring sustainable development in the country.
A student studying a four years course in the university would spend six years and those studying a five to six years course would surely spend eight years in the university.
Is this how the federal government would continue playing with our future? Can’t we find a lasting solution to end this strike? The answer to these two questions is that we need leaders who are very passionate about developing education standards in Nigeria.
In our Nigerian tertiary institutions, our lecture halls are dilapidated, our libraries are full of outdated textbooks, there is no conducive environment for learning and living and our tertiary institutions lack infrastructure development.
I commend the effort of the ASUU for trying so hard to ensure that we receive the best quality of education. Even so, the ASUU is also fighting for the interest of their members in one part and the interest of Nigerian students in another part.
The bitter truth is that strike action would cause more destruction to students and our education system. I urge ASUU to find another means of negotiating with the federal government to make sure that all their demands are met.
This strike action would not affect the federal government in any way because their children are not studying in Nigeria and that is why they failed to put the educational system as their priority.
Our future is at stake, our time is going, and our plan as a student would be disrupted by this industrial strike.
I am urging the ASUU to continue the fight in ensuring that the students enjoy the best educational standard and resolve other issues relating to your Earned Academic Allowance and the University Transparency Accountability Solution, this would go a long way in developing the standard of education in Nigeria, but the strike action would cause more damage than what we can think of.
I am using this medium to implore the federal government to meet ASUU demands ranging from the fund for the revitalization of the university, Earned Academic Allowance, Agreement in MOA, and outstanding issues, this would go a long way to put an end to the strike action by ASUU.
My advice for students and lecturers is to ensure that we vote for leaders who prioritize education so that we should not repeat the same mistake that happened in the last general election.
If ASUU embarks on strike, the insecurity problem will surely increase. In addition to that, all the social vices would be rampant in our society because an idle hand is an evil workshop.
The future is in our hands and this future would be hampered if ASUU embarks on a fresh strike.
The Strike is not the Best Option for Now.
Abdulrasheed Hammad is a 400-Level student of Law and the Editor-in-Chief of the best press outfit on UDUS campus, PEN PRESS UDUS.
He can be reached through this Gmail: Abdulrasheedhammad@gmail.com or this number: 08083638703.