THE strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on February 14 has clocked 180 days.
The ICIR reports that ASUU’s strikes led to the shutting down of the nation’s public universities for 15 months between March 23, 2020, and August 12, 2022.
On December 22, 2020, the union suspended the nine-month strike it embarked upon on March 23 that year before proceeding with the current action on February 14 this year.
With the ongoing strike, academic activities have now stalled in Nigerian public universities for at least four and a half years since the nation returned to democracy in May 1999.
The strikes make students who are admitted for a four-year programme or more spend more years in school.
Strikes can make students miss the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme when they grow past the 30 years legally-permissible age for participation in the service.
Efforts by the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the current crisis have failed.
ASUU is demanding the implementation of an agreement the Federal Government signed with it in 2009, among other demands, namely:
- Deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
- Payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
- Release of an agreed sum of money for revitalising public universities (federal and state).
- Addressing proliferation and governance issues in state universities.
- Settling promotion arrears.
- Releasing withheld salaries of academics.
- Payment of outstanding third-party deductions.
But the government said it could not borrow N1.1 trillion yearly to meet the lecturers’ demands.
The government has appealed to parents to convince the lecturers to return to classes.
But the parents gave reasons for their inability to heed the government’s plea.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), backed by civil society organisations, staged a two-day nationwide protest on August 26 and 27 to compel the government to meet ASUU’s demands, warning that if the status quo remained, it would embark on an indefinite nationwide strike.
According to ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, since the current strike began, the Federal Government had not paid any of its members.
The former Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajiuba had urged the Federal Government to withhold the lecturers’ salary when they were on strike.
One of the striking lecturers, Christiana Pam, who was found selling potatoes, said she felt no shame in finding means to support her family.
Buhari had directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to work with other officials in his government to resolve the stalemate during a meeting with relevant Federal Government officials on July 19.
But there is no proof he has resolved the impasse, despite the President’s directive.