The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has announced it will be going on a two week warning strike as soon as normal operations in universities begin. It announced its plan to strike as a response to accusations that the union, along with the Academic Staff of Universities Union (ASUU) inflated staff salaries and continued to collect salaries on behalf of dead and retired lecturers and refused to adopt the government’s plan to roll out the Integrated Personnel Payment System (IPPIS) and automated payment system that would have weeded out ghost and dead workers and helped the government better track payment of lecturers and other tertiary academic institution staff. This university strike follows the indefinite strike embarked on by ASUU in March 2020, to protest IPPIS.
Current realities (the Coronavirus pandemic) have greatly hindered NASU and ASUU’s plans to implement their university strike as students have been sent home and private institutions like First Bank are rolling out e-learning platforms to enable students continue their studies, earn grade work and better themselves without the traditional structure of a university complex. As such, the current University strike ASUU is on is largely symbolic and the strike NASU is threatening to embark on will equally be less powerful as they have even less connection with students outside of traditional academic settings.
That is not to say ASUU doesn’t have legitimate concerns. The association has been advocating for better funding for education for decades. Nigeria allocates less than 10% of its annual budget to education, a statistic that is atrocious considering Nigeria churns out more graduates than any other country on the continent. Many Nigerian graduates have been described as functionally unemployable thanks to poor educational practices and archaic equipment and labs. The organization also has its flaw, as widespread corruption led to the Tertiary Endowment Fund (TETFUND) withdrawing all support for academics because they were siphoning money off the institution and funneling towards personal projects.
Will ASUU, NASU and the Federal government finally find an impasse? For the sake of Nigerian students, we hope so.