by Gbenga Odunsi
After an extensive deliberation that lasted days, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has embarked on an indefinite strike action. ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said all means of negotiation had been exploited before the decision on an indefinite strike action was reached.
The grouse of the university teachers are as follows: The inability of the Federal Government to implement some of the issues contained in a 2009 agreement it had with ASUU as well as payments of allowances. The lecturers have complained of poor funding of universities, part-payment of salaries of lecturers and the kidnap of two lecturers of the University of Maiduguri by the Boko Haram.
For the umpteenth time, our education sector has been thrown into another avoidable industrial action.
It is against this background that Nigerians condemn the levity with which federal government handled the numerous agreements it had reached with the union, and failing to implement the agreement.
It is obvious that the Federal Government have not proved to be honourable in ensuring the faithful implementation of the agreements they entered with the academics since 2009. This has engendered a lack of trust and confidence of the scholars in the government. This latest strike action will disrupt the academic calendar of the affected public tertiary institutions.
With this development, many final year students who are supposed to graduate this year may not be able to do so. The ripple effect of this is that with delayed graduation, medical students who should go for their housemanship; law students who should go for their law school programme and the generality of other students who should be mobilised for their mandatory one-year national service scheme would also have theirs postponed.
In the long run, it is the students’ destinies that are generally being manipulated with these endless industrial actions.
Many of these students would now have time to fully engage in social vices such as prostitution, cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery, fraud and many others will while away time as well as make illicit money.
It will be difficult for many of them to seek a proper legitimate job as they are not certain when their lecturers will call off their strike; more so, they have no meaningful qualifications to seek full employment.
The disruption of studies of the students will also have negative psychological impact on them. By the time the strike is over, many of the students would most likely have forgotten what they were taught before the unwarranted break.
Is this how we want to continue to frame the future generations of this country?
From the foregoing, it is pertinent to appeal to the federal government to implement the dictates of the 2009 agreement it entered with the academic union. The government should also quickly consider the issues of poor funding of universities, part-payment of salaries of lecturers and the kidnap of two lecturers of the University of Maiduguri by the Boko Haram which had led to the strike action. Nigeria’s education sector needs to be properly funded given the primacy role the sector plays in human capital development.
Furthermore, Nigerians appeal to members of the academic staff union to soft pedal on their demands, particularly the ‘payment of allowance’. Asking for payments of allowances during recession may not seem right.
The union should give the government more time, and the benefit of the doubt by going back to work in the interest of their suffering students. Let’s save our tottering education sector from the imminent total collapse.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Gbenga edits AljazirahNigeria Newspapers. He tweets @gbengaodunsii