Tuesday, 29 August 2017

ASUU-FG faceoff: The way Forward By: Dr. Akin Fagbemi

By on 11:03
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The Author, Dr. Akin Fagbemi

Fellow Nigerians, on Sunday, August 13, 2017, the Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU] under the leadership of Professor Biodun Ogunyemi declared a nationwide strike due to the failure of the Federal government to implement the 2009 agreement and Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013. As you are reading this, there is a shut down of teaching, research and learning activities in our institutions.

Founded in 1978, replacing the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT; established in 1965) ASUU has a history of militancy. Its first national strike was in 1988 to agitate for fair wages and university autonomy, leading to its proscription that same year on August 7 by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. In 1990, it was unbanned two years after. 
Ex-Military Head of State, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida...'First to call ASUU's bluff'
Two years later, on August 23, it was banned. By September 3, 1992, a truce was reached. But again, another two years later, in 1994, ASUU went on strike; it also did in 1996. All those years were moments that the military dictatorships of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Sani Abacha reigned supreme.
Late General Sani Abacha....'He also stamped ASUU out of sight for a long while'
 It would appear that with the advent of democracy in 1999, the academic union might shed its militant toga. Barely three years into the democratic administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, ASUU was unsparing in its agitations for rights of its members in 2007, it went on strike for 93 days and in 2008, it called for a two-week warning strike demanding for improved salary scheme and reinstatement of 49 lecturers that were kicked out of the University of  Ilorin.
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo....'He equally got a head ache from the ASUU Strike pill'

A year later, the union went on another strike that lasted three months over disagreements it reached with the Federal Government which the latter was accused of not keeping. By October 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both parties and the strike was called off. There was respite for about four years.
By July 1, 2013, ASUU embarked on an industrial action that was only stopped in December 16 of that year. During that time the union continued to press for the welfare of its members and sometimes for that of the students and the state of government-owned universities. It is 2017, and the narratives of ASUU has not changed.
Late President Umaru Yar Adua....'He took sad pill from ASUU strike in 2009'
The government of Nigeria is only paying lip service to the education sector, Nigerian universities are chronically-underfunded. Should we talk about the maggot-ridden toilets in halls of residence? Should we talk about the crowded dormitories? Laboratories are without adequate instruments and materials for practical sessions. In lecture theatres, students crouch, stoop, or stand in the soul-benumbing struggle to gather learned dictations from uninspired dons.
The Federal Government must address the rot in the educational system, they must inject money to the sector for the development of our centres of knowledge. The sector has been paralyzed and it is hemorrhaging: the All Progressives Congress is now at the centre so they must proffer a lasting and workable solutions to the quagmire bewildering the sector. The collapse of Nigerian universities is the collapse of Nigerian society as a whole.
President Muhammadu Buhari...'Can he take the ASUU Strike pill?
ASUU must know that after several negotiations, promises of money will follow on the part of the Federal Government, and the strike will be called-off. Who then loses in this scenario? It is the students who lose, and the education system. What are we projecting to the international community as far as tertiary education is concerned in Nigeria? I, therefore, hope that ASUU will soften its stand during its negotiations with the Federal Government on this current strike, while calling-off the industrial action with immediate effect.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC Government's Spokesman...'What will his Government do to eradicate the crisis of poor education in Nigeria?'
Moreover, inasmuch as I support the strike being embarked by the Academic staffs of Public Universities, ASUU must also be accountable: they must allow the Federal Government to go on with the Forensic audits. Also, they should succumb to the Treasury Single Account [TSA].
The economic prosperity of nations lie in creativity and inventions which drive productivity and value worthy of intellectual property protection. The wealth of nations can be easily assessed by quality and quantity of intellectual property rights. For Nigeria to be part of the cream of leading economies in the world, it must be ready to increase the level of crea tivity and volume of inventions on a global scale. However, this is driven by the quality of manpower which is a direct product of the education sector

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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