Thursday, August 15, 2013

Q&A: What's behind the ASUU University strike in Nigeria?

The ASUU University strike drags into its seventh week. The Federal Government of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to fund the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). With lecturers insisting they would not return to work unless the government agrees to implement all the content of a 2009 agreement both parties had, osas eye points to whats really behind the ASUU strike in Nigeria, the wins, losses and draws so far.
ASUU University strike in Nigeria
ASUU University strike in Nigeria? 
A week ago Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue disclosed to news correspondents that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, will meet with the leadership of the Acadmic staff union of Universities, ASUU, to address the two remaining issues: earned allowance and general university funding for infrastructure development.

He said that after hours of deliberation behind closed doors, the meeting agreed on major issues except the two stated above.

“These are the outstanding issues, otherwise other issues have been agreed on and we believe that by next week we should be able to agree on all the issues and, probably, ASUU will call off the strike,’’ he stated in that report to the press.

Why is the Federal Government refusing to agree to the demands of ASUU? Do they value wasteful spending on creating more redundant committees and ministries to funding Education in Nigeria. Who's actually winning? 

“If you go into our universities you will agree with me that there are a lot of infrastructure deficit; so, we have agreed that all the funding agencies will meet with ASUU,” he said.

The most recent comment  by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been rebuffed by Nigerians and members of ASUU. The minister said that the university lecturers demanded N92 billion as earned allowances in the 2009 agreement.
In a statement of response, the union said: “I want Nigerians to ask the minister where she got her figure of N92 billion from. There was never a time that ASUU made a demand that is up to N92 billion. I think the 92 billion Naira is just the imagination of the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy.”

Dr. Ajiboye, Chairman University of Ibadan ASUU Chapter clarified the issue noting that the earned allowances jointly calculated with the Federal Government and ASUU in the 2009 agreement was N87 billion and it covers allowances for three and a half years for thousands of lecturers in Nigerian universities.

He said: “This is a government that signed an agreement with us on January 24, 2012 to the effect that they would inject N100 billion as funding into the universities in the first one month and that before the end of 2012, they would inject another N300 billion. The same government did not put down a kobo to any of these universities.

“So, it is a sad story that we are hearing now that the government cannot meet a demand of N87 billion whereas the government said that they would keep on putting N400 billion annually for three years consecutively to the tune of about N1.2 trillion. If the government is now saying it cannot meet N87billion, Nigerians should know that this is not a government that can be trusted for anything.

“The total amount of earned allowances for academic staff in Nigerian universities for the three and a half years computed together with the government was N87 billion. And that was agreed based on negotiations because we started from N127billion and it was reduced to N107 billion before we now got to 15 percent of salary payment of each person. It is called earned allowances and it is the sum total of the excess work which academic staff had done for the past three and a half years. You are now telling Nigerians that this is what these people are asking for as if it’s a new thing. Nigerians should know that it is what the people have worked for and not N92 billion. It is fallacy and what these people (federal government) are just pushing is propaganda.”

Prof David-West, a former minister of petroleum lashed out that any government, which fails to invest in education is a vagabond government.

He said: “Any government that fails to invest in education is a vagabond government. The problem with Nigeria is that we have more thieves than saints in government. We drill over two million barrels of crude oil per day. Why should we be poor?

“ASUU is saying that the government should spend the money to improve the quality of education for our children and those yet unborn. The same government that does not have money for education budgeted N1 billion each to feed the President and the Vice President for just a year. Are they eating rock in Aso Rock? If you went to school without shoes, ensure that your children have shoes. Good parents pray that their children must be better than them.”
This is turning into a blame game. The situation has taken too long. It's a shame that this strike has dragged on too long. How can you fix education in Nigeria when the people in power don't even believe in it. 


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