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GC Posted On: May 24, 2017

Daily, there appears to be no end in sight to the adversarial relationship between the Federal Government and university teachers in the country, under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The teachers, for the umpteenth time, have downed tools as part of a one-week warning strike to press for their demands.
Most times, at the root of the regular face off between the government and the teachers, are chronic under-funding of the sector, staff welfare, improved learning conditions, and failure of government to implement mutually consented agreements. The ongoing strike action, which got underway yesterday, is no different.

Ahead of the commencement of the industrial action, the leadership of the union, after its emergency executive meeting, expressed dissatisfaction with the poor funding of the sector, through low budgetary allocation, which plummeted to eight per cent in 2016 from 11 per cent in 2015.

President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, while speaking at a press conference, marshaled the failure of government to implement the 2009 agreement, and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), as some of the reasons for embarking on the warning strike.

He regretted that vain promises by the government have only contributed to worsening an already bad scenario, adding that his members were really disappointed with government’s disposition, even after it set up its negotiation team for the review of agreement, as consistently requested by ASUU since 2012.

In declaring the strike, he had stressed that; “There shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of our branches while the strike lasts.”

Insisting that machinery would be put in place to ensure total compliance during the strike, Ogunyemi informed that the warning strike was to draw attention of concerned stakeholders and the general public to the challenges that the unions, universities and other stakeholders in the sector were facing.

“We are doing this because we want Nigerians to come into the matter and ensure that these issues are given adequate attention they deserve… Our lecturers are given 40 per cent of their salaries, which is just not encouraging, as this will lead to poor commitment in carrying out their jobs. I am sure nobody will like a 40 per cent university education, or 40 per cent teaching of various courses including research development and output. That is why we have to take the matter before the National Assembly, which we believe, will come into the matter just like the Nigerian parents.”

Asked if there were no alternatives to the incessant strike actions that set the university system back horribly, Ogunyemi, only hours into the commencement of the warning strike responded in the affirmative.

“There is an alternative to strike actions in the university system, but that can only be possible if the government is sincere and engaging. This is because even when a government engages, but fails to meet what it pledged, owing to circumstances, it can always call the parties involved and work out an arrangement, and people will have faith, and justifiable reason to still look into the days ahead with a lot of hope and enthusiasm,” Ogunyemi told The Guardian, yesterday.

The ASUU boss lamented that, “The issue of resorting to strike action we have been trying to manage for sometime now. We have released a long rope for government to pull, but they failed to. We are thinking of who will give us an alternative because the way we see it, the government is never ready to pull. We don’t ever embark on strike action without holding series of meetings, writing letters conscientising stakeholders, and without telling Nigerians and generally taking every necessary step geared towards averting the strike action.

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