ASUU Strike And 2019 Polls


Recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) raised the alarm that the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities would affect its preparations for the 2019 elections.
ASUU, had on November 5, 2018 begun an indefinite strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement three areas in the Memorandum of Action signed with the union on September 14, 2017.
As was to be expected, the declaration of the indefinite and total strike action has thrown the nation’s education system, in particular, the long-suffering and economically traumatised students and their parents into another round of anguish. And more worrisome is the hopeless picture regarding the immediate resolution of the current strike.
Already agitated by the ASUU strike, the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) also, through its National Public Relations Officer, Azeez Adeyemi issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to implement t he agreement reached with ASUU failure to which it would embark on nationwide protest.
The Tide frowns at the seeming nonchalant manner the Federal Government is handling the agreement reached with the university teachers. We consider it unconscionable for the government to always renege on its agreements and wait for ASUU to declare a strike before taking steps to honour the terms of the agreement it freely reached with the union.
While we do not subscribe to the use of incessant strike to resolve industrial disputes, we hold that government owe it a responsibility to provide adequate funding for university education and invest in the sector to accelerate national development. Government must change the habit of paying tip service to the education sector in the interest of national growth and development.
We are worried that apart from the fact that most graduates from Nigerian universities are usually degraded to lower classes or at times denied higher education abroad due to the poor standard of our universities, this recent alarm raised by INEC on the possible negative effect of the strike on the preparations for the 2019 general elections calls for grave concern. It is also equally unfortunate that no Nigerian university is ranked amongst the 500 best universities in the world, a situation should ordinarily worry the authorities.
More worrisome is the seeming confirmation that the fears expressed by the opposition that the Buhari-led administration is not interested in the successful conduct of the general elections next year.
We equally think that the deplorable situation of Nigerian universities calls for a holistic review of the entire system in order to develop a comprehensive blueprint that would address the critical challenges associated with the university system.
Also, we do not ascribe to the alleged plan by the federal authorities to introduce a new tuition fee regime in our universities. We believe that available budgetary fund, if properly managed could provide the needed infrastructure that would raise the academic standard of our universities.
On the part of ASUU, we caution that incessant strike is distorting the academic calendar and gradually killing university education in Nigeria. But even more fundamentally, we think that the present state of the nation’s economy cannot back ASUU’s demands. Therefore, meeting ASUU’s immediate demands may not be a realistic solution in the long run.
It is on this premise that The Tide calls on the government, ASUU and other critical stakeholders in the education sector to join hands in the effort to find a lasting solution to what has become a disturbing national challenge and save the nation from further political instability.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the consequences of running battles between the Federal Government and ASUU which had often resulted in prolonged strike by the lecturers over the years, had dealt debilitating blow on our educational development, and has continued to pull our public universities down the ladder of academic ranking in the world.
It is on this note we envisage a quick and amicable resolution of all issues at stake for the collective wellbeing of Nation’s education sector and a smooth conduct of the 2019 general elections. No attempt should be made to either rig or mare the elections come next year.