By Asunmogejo Yusuf Adua
It was a surprise on Tuesday morning the 23rd of December when a piece of news circulated in the media about a 9 months old pregnancy aborted in the whirlwind. Shockingly for many observers and concerned Nigerians, this news saw many young Nigerians jubilating all over the social media.
What type of news could this be? A 9 months old pregnancy aborted – amidst happiness and jubilation in the air? What could have caused the celebration? Lo and Behold; it was news of the suspension of the 9 months old lingering industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, surprisingly announced the suspension of the union’s niggling 9 months old industrial action at a press conference in Abuja. Frankly speaking, this is indeed good news to the Nigerian undergraduates whose academic sojourn has been thrown in the breeze for the past 9 months.
For many other Nigerians, the sole question of whether this event is worth celebrating has been asked across boards. While many are indifferent about the news, some were full of happiness and contentment as their academic life will take a new turn.
As concerned Nigerians, if we are going to ask ourselves; is this incessant industrial action the way to go? Don’t forget that this recent suspension shows that ASUU has been on strike for a cumulative period of three years.
This means a whopping three years of academic setbacks in Nigeria, and yet we are all clamouring for growth and development.
It is a known fact that without Research and Development (R&D), the country cannot progress aggressively. What more of the quality of students that have graduated from these public universities. A recent report from a social media survey shows that the gap between our public institutions and the industry cannot be bridged anytime soon. One of the major factors to this academic ill is the unceasing strike by ASUU which occurs almost every year.
Summary of ASUU Demands
According to a report published by the Union, the government’s refusal to meet the union’s demands since 1999 has been the bane of the relentless strike since the past nine months.
For the sake of clarity, let’s take a hark back on some of the demands of the academic union;
The union demanded more funding tunning up to 110 billion naira from the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, 2013 (MOU), 2017 ( MOA), and Feb. 7, 2019 (MOA)
Payment of the earned academic allowances of the union members
The proliferation of University by the state government and the constitution of visitation panels to federal universities
Removal of the planned forceful imposition of the IPPIS on universities and failure of the federal government to pay over 9 months salary.
Declaration of a five-year State of Emergency in the education sector during which at least 20% of the budget would be allocated to education.
Taking a critical look at the stated demands by ASUU leadership, one would find it to be that the government is not been sincere enough in developing the education sector in the country. It was hard for the giant duos to meet at a resolution point to return the innocent students to their classes. The required question from the current situation is; where do go from here?
The Way Forward
No doubt that the current suspension of the nine months old industrial action is conditional, which means the suspension is temporary. Any deviation from the promises made will plunge the public universities into another round of impromptu lockdown.
As a country, what is required to move the education sector forward is the right leadership in the realm of the educational affairs of the country. There should be vibrant and patriotic stakeholders that would always see to the demands of each university and how its management can foster technological researches to promote industrial and economic growth.
It’s a beautiful demand that the union is asking for an allocation of at least 20% of the budget on education. It’s been a situation of neglect on the amount spent on public education in Nigeria. No wonder they are of the habit of sending their children abroad while the downtrodden are here wallowing in neglect and educational decapitation.
Conclusively, the right track of visionary leaders would produce the dividends of the right to quality education for the ordinary Nigerian undergraduate. It would translate into sufficient public infrastructure, good research materials, training, and other supportive infrastructure to boost the quality of tertiary education and technological development in Nigeria.
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