It would be recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite strike which lasted for the period of six months, from July to December 2013.
The industrial action which disrupted academic activities in public universities across the country was as a result of failure of the federal government to implement the 2009 agreement it signed with ASUU. In 2009, when the union (ASUU) embarked on a similar strike, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between ASUU and federal government which led to the suspension of the strike.
Strike has been a tradition of the union since the 1980s, but the consequences of such strikes have always been detrimental to parents and students. Nigerian students are made to spend many years pursuing undergraduate degrees in the universities due to persistent strikes and a host of other inconsistencies and challenges in the Nigeria’s education sector.
The question which may be interesting to many is how have ASUU strikes helped in resolving the problems, crises and challenges faced by Nigerian universities? Or what impact have the union’s strikes made in improving the quality of education in Nigerian universities?
Although, it is believed that government has shown lack of commitment to the country’s education sector, with budgetary allocation of 7-10% to the sector, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) requires member states (Nigeria inclusive) to vote at least 26% for the sector.
The recent struggle by ASUU through its six months industrial action was to compel the federal government to implement the agreement signed in 2009.
Major issues contained in the MOU include funding requirements for revitalisation of the Nigerian universities; progressive increase in annual budgetary allocation to education to 26% between 2009 and 2020; earned allowances for lecturers; transfer of federal government landed property to universities; federal government assistance to state universities; and setting up of research development council and provision of equipment to laboratories and classrooms in the universities, among others.
The impact of the renegotiation between ASUU and federal government in 2013, which led to the suspension of the six months strike and the subsequent release of N220 billion to public universities across the country are yet to be felt in many institutions, especially in the state owned universities.
The funds released from the federation account to universities for infrastructural development are also yet to be utilised in many institutions because students still face challenges in different aspects, resulting from lack of a good environment that is conducive for learning.
The infrastructures of many state universities are still in poor conditions and the institutions continue to face different challenges, ranging from poor road networks on campuses, inadequate lecture halls, lack of research facilities and lots more.
The efforts of state governments towards improving standards in their universities have been commendable in many areas. On the other hand, the federal government assistance to state universities has been inadequate.
However, the positive impacts of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) have been remarkable, especially in the areas of sponsorship for publication of books and journals, and sponsorship for university lecturers to attend domestic and international conferences in their areas of specialisation, among others.
If at this point in time the impacts of ASUU strike are yet to be felt by students of Nigerian universities, it means the six months strike has yielded no good outcome to the lives and wellbeing of students and the general public.
To save Nigerian university students from being involved in criminal activities, drug abuse and prostitution during strikes, ASUU should adopt “dialogue” as a method of resolving its differences with the governments at all levels and halt its penchant for quick resort to the suspension of academic activities on campuses across the country.
This article was written and sent to schoolwatch.com.ng by Auwal a 300-level student of Mass Comm. NSUK
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