Itunu Adeniyi

Nigerian students have expressed their concern as regards the recent payment of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU which the government tagged “pro-rata” fee for the month of October.

Olawale Solomon, a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko said the airplanes cannot be closed for a month, let alone eight consecutive months without any concern, commending the Union for their decision and dedication to make Nigeria Education better.

He said, “Can airplanes be closed for 8 months? The answer is No. I commend the Asuu union for their decision and steadfastness for education to be pivotal.

ASUU and its struggle in Nigeria education

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU embarked on a-month warning strike in February to protest the Federal government’s refusal to sign and implement the 2009 renegotiated agreement with the union and the revitalization of public universities.

The strike which started as a warning was rolled over several times when the Federal Government did not take action to meet the agreement till it reached Eight months.

The strike which has been recurring for over 16 years started in 2009 and lasted for 120 days. Their key demands is 3 trillion into public universities in six tranches, starting from 2013. Only N200 billion has been released since 2013.

Recall that the Union’s President, Emmanuel Osodoke affirmed that the strike should not have gone beyond two weeks, if the National Assembly had intervened before.

The strike was suspended following a court order in October. Prior to the suspension of the strike, the Federal government had threatened to invoke the ‘ no work’ policy, a decision the government later said would be reconsidered.

However, after the suspension of the strike, the lecturers were paid what the government called “pro-rata” payment for the month of October. The Federal government justified it’s action, explaining that the lecturers were paid based on the number of days they worked in October and not half salary as reported.

However, the Union in response to that noted that they were intellectuals and should not be treated as casual workers. ASUU Chairman, Emmanuel Osodoke, described the government’s action as a contravention of their rules of engagement

“NEC noted with dismay that paying academics on a “pro- rata” basis, like a casual workers is unprecedented in the history of University oriented labour relations and therefore condemned this attempt to reduce Nigeria scholars to casual workers in it’s entirety” he said.

“Unfortunately, the response of government towards ASUU’s demonstration of trust was the so-called ‘pro-rata’ payment for eighteen days as the October 2022 salaries of academics thereby protraying them as daily paid workers

Students React

Nigerian students have expressed their concern towards the October half salary paid to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) by the Federal Government despite the elongation of the strike.

An Undergraduate of Uthman Dan Fodio University Sokoto (UDUS), Abdulrasheed Akere has asserted that Federal Government are to be blamed if Asuu embark on a fresh strike because they are the ones who betrayed their agreement, adding that the union should sue Federal Government to court.

“But I will beg ASUU to find another way to fight this instead of strike, I think ASUU should sue FG to court since it was the court that asked them to resume base on agreement

“They should also inform the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila the FG is not doing what they expect” Rasheed said

Speaking further, Rasheed explained that ASUU and FG have a very clumsy issue which needs a serious minded and a patriotic person to resolve the issue between them.

Olawale Solomon, while expressing his opinion reiterated that the country’s education needs proper funding, urging the union to call for peace.

He said, “I also urged The Minister for Labour and Employment to take away furious and partisans out of education and call for peace resolution because Nigeria need a proper funding of education and I will also urge Asuu to calm and call for peace and ensure that they carry out their full responsibility FG should pay ASUU with his held salaries because the president has said that he will do so let us trust them on that.

“It’s very uncalled for and very sad that FG is not interested in the education sector. I will say to any nation that does not pay serious attention to education that the country will never grow”

Speaking further, Olawale said that the Federal Government has not been sincere at all with the Union, adding that they are frustrating the union not to render their efforts and impacts in delivery to their duties.

He noted that the Union has no other weapons to press their demand by using strike as an only opinion.

“But let’s ask ourselves what caused this strike? What are the steps FG takes to address this issue? What are the plans that they take to disburse money for them? No plans at all, It’s when the union plans to embark on strike for a long period that the country could not bear”.

Moreover, a 300 level student of Bayero University Kano, Uthman Adigun Akinkunmi explained that Nigeria Education is a total mess and that both the FG and ASUU are responsible for it.

He said further that FG, not necessarily current administration takes much if the blame and no place in the world would the government allow this mess

“Surely the Federal Government, not necessarily the current administration, takes much of the blame. No place in the world would the government allow this mess

“Definitely this is not gonna bring any credit to the administration even if they think it’s a method to permanently stop the strike

He noted, “ASUU needs to face reality, it’s obvious strike won’t change anything in Buhari’s administration, someone that values farming to education? ASUU should find a better means to fight for their right”.

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