The Academic Staff of Universities Union (ASUU) was founded in 1978. Its predecessor, the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT), was established in 1965 and covers the academic staff of the University of Ibadan , University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife and University of Lagos.
According to its founders, the ASUU is a trade union whose objectives include the regulation of relations between academic staff and employers, the encouragement of the participation of its members in the affairs of the university system and the nation, the protection and promotion socio-economic and cultural interests. of the nation.
It is supposed to be a union of intellectuals seeking not only the socio-political and economic interest of its members in furtherance of the cause of university education in Nigeria, but the overall good of Nigerians and the Nigeria.
The union rose to prominence when it staged its first-ever strike and was banned by the military government of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on August 7, 1988, and all of its assets seized. This was because of the nationwide strike she organized that year for fair wages and university autonomy. Although the union was allowed to resume operations in 1990, it was banned again on August 23, 1992, after another strike. An agreement was however reached on September 3, 1992, which addressed several demands of the union, including the workers’ right to collective bargaining.
The ASUU organized further strikes in 1994 and 1996 to protest against the dismissal of university teachers by the military regime of Sani Abacha (Wikipedia, 2016).
While her first industrial action was in 1988, her longest was in 2020, when she felled tools for nine months. The lecturers, based on the goals and objectives of their union – ensuring adequate funding, improving the salary package, autonomy and academic freedom to curb the brain drain and ensuring the survival of the university system – articulated their action on the lack of funding for universities and the functionality of the integrated payment portal system, arguing that the IPPIS denies the autonomy of universities.
On December 17, 2013, ASUU declared a six-month strike over the non-implementation of a 2009 agreement between it and the federal government, which was eventually canceled after the latter accepted some of its demands. .
Yet a year later, the union has again embarked on a week-long warning strike over the government’s failure to implement the 2009 agreement and a 2013 memorandum of understanding. , “many aspects of the 2013 memorandum of understanding and the 2009 agreement with the federal government have either not been implemented or have been dealt with in desperation”. The agreements relate to staff entitlement payments since December 2015, university funding for revitalization, retirement, CST and university autonomy and the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
But what are the October 2009 agreements reached between the federal government and ASUU after two years of negotiation between the teachers and a government team appointed by the then Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili? The government team was led by the then University of Ibadan Pro-Chancellor, Gamaliel Onosode, while the ASUU team was led by its then President, Abdullahi Sule-Kano. The agreements reached included terms of service for university professors, university funding, university autonomy and academic freedom, and other issues that needed legislation to be implemented.
The ASUU has often complained that “the deal with the federal government has often been a frustrating journey for our union. Protests and strikes often mark this and require conscious and focused engagement. The 2001 agreement, which gave rise to the 2009 agreement, was not a waiver. The exception here is the figure leading the government negotiating team.
So, after strikes in 2017 and 2018, and a period of calm beginning in 2019, the ASUU announced on Monday, November 17, 2021, its intention to embark on another strike in three weeks if the federal government continued to return on his agreement with her. . The union had accused the federal government of failing to implement the agreement after calling off its nine-month strike in December 2020.
Although, according to an article in Dataphyte magazine, ASUU has spent one out of every four days on strike for the past six years, it started one again on February 14, 2022, and our students have been home ever since.
Naturally, students have been the beneficiaries, and the hardest hit is our education system, of course. However, apart from the disastrous implications on our education system, ASUU strikes have a negative impact on our economy and can lead to the commission of many minor and serious crimes by the timid and those desperate to survive. I will take Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and its economic importance as an example.
ABU Zaria has approximately 100,000 students. Assuming that each student spends an average of 1,000 naira per day, or 1 billion naira injected into the economy of Zaria and its surroundings. Markets will be bubbling, the transportation system will be fully engaged, social services will be in full swing, production will increase and job opportunities will expand.
Without this injection of capital into the environmental economy, many businesses and jobs, indirect and direct, that depended on the primary services frequented by students will collapse and many people will be stretched thin to make ends meet. . Someone can easily tempt the timid into crime and other vices to survive.
Where there is nothing to get by, and with a lack of education and job skills, it will not be a stretch to see young people joining the criminal enterprise just to get paid. Even many educated people without means of support can easily fall into this temptation.
That doesn’t even take students into account; able-bodied, strong young people with dynamic brains and an impressionable character; any lengthy idleness can easily turn their minds into the proverbial devil’s workshop.
The government’s “no work, no pay” policy is also having a serious impact on the community. Perhaps statisticians, criminologists and psychologists can look at the numbers — in terms of increases and decreases — of crime during ASUU strikes and when schools are in full swing. Indeed, even during the holidays, you find students at school, unlike on strike days.
Most likely, government gatekeepers do not view strikes, especially ASUU strikes, from this perspective. But the government must consider the security implications of everything it does.