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ASUU strike: Students express frustration as union, FG clash

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STUDENTS across Nigerian universities have expressed frustration at the incessant strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that punctuate the country’s education system.

The recurring disagreement between the Federal Government and the university union has continued to disrupt academic activities in universities, with many students staying in school longer than planned.

Samuel Iliya had enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in Micro-Biology at the Nasarawa State University (NASU) in 2018.


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He began the four-year course as a 200 level student, expecting to graduate in 2021.

But Iliya has been affected by three strike actions in the course of his study. One year after his expected date of graduation, he is still in school.

“In three years, I’ve experienced three strike actions. In 2018, we were home for about three months. There was another one in 2020 that started in March. Coupled with the lockdown, we spent almost the whole year at home. Now this one,” he said.

Confronted with yet another period of strike, Iliya has lost hope that he will graduate from the university this year. In the meantime, he keeps himself occupied with meagre jobs, such as selling fuel at the black market.

“I was supposed to graduate in 2021, but it has stretched into this year. We should be rounding up in June but we are now at home again for another strike. It is not looking possible,” he said.

The ongoing action had begun as a one-month warning strike on February 14, 2022.

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ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke had said the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed between both parties was the reason for the industrial action.

Osodeke also identified poor commitment on the part of government to payment of academic earned allowance (EAA) and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as other reasons for the strike action.

Students across the country had protested after the expiration of a one-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands.

This did not yield results, and the exercise was extended for another two months leaving students frustrated.

Faisal Ibrahim, a third year student of Kogi State University, told The ICIR that her academic performance has been affected as she found it difficult readjusting to her studies after previous strike actions.

“Usually after strike, the school would try to hurry activities on the calendar. We start rushing to make up for lost time. It makes it difficult to cope and at the end of the day, it affects my results,” she said.

Graduates are also discouraged by the academic situation in the country, and those who can afford it jet out to foreign countries for further studies.

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According to a report, about 100,000 Nigerian students had been registered abroad in 2020.

Six strike actions in 11 years

The ASUU has embarked on six strike actions since 2011. The strikes occurred almost every two years, spanning between 30-180 days.

ASUU strike actions since 2011

The ongoing action began less than two years after a nine-month strike was called off, leaving many Nigerians wondering if the exercise has yielded any results.

But in an interview with The ICIR, Osodeke said the persistent strike actions have yielded results and are the reason the Nigerian public university system is still in place.

He said there were no other alternatives open to the union, as they had met with President Muhammadu Buhari, presiding officers of the National Assembly and other relevant authorities, without any result.

“If we have passed through all these means and nobody is listening, what do we do? Do we just fold our arms and allow the system to collapse? The strike is yielding a lot of results, but Nigerians do not realise it. If we do not go on strike we would have been like Nigerian public primary and secondary schools.

“Go to Nigerian universities and polytechnics. Many buildings you see there are labelled ‘TETFUND’. It is our struggle. If we were not struggling to get funds for those buildings, will we still have universities today?” he asked.

The union leader noted that students graduate without having practical experience in their courses of study and now travel abroad for education with millions of naira, which could have been invested in Nigeria’s education system.

Osodeke also accused the political elite of being uninterested in the development of the country’s education sector.

However, the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Ministry of Education Ben Goong, told The ICIR that the inauguration of a renegotiation committee showed government interest in resolving the problem.

Goong stated the government had responded to the warning strike by setting up a renegotiation committee, but, according to him, the union had not presented a level playing field by extending the strike for two months.

“ASUU declared warning strike, and the government responded by setting up a renegotiation committee. By rolling over the strike for another two months, even before the warning strike expired, ASUU is not allowing for a level playing field for parties to sit down and negotiate,” he said.

He added that the request for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) might lead to the death of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), as other government agencies could begin the request for a different payment platform.

“If we grant them UTAS, give us one reason why we would not grant it to others and let IPPIS die?” he asked.

Author profile

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org

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