I have seen a picture(s) of students taking lectures in an over crowded theater, with some of the students sitting on a prayer mat or a bare floor. I could remember how exactly we attended lectures in a similar situation at the popular New Lecture Theater (NLT) of Abubakara Tafawa Balewa University about twenty-two years ago. I wonder if the situation still exists nowadays in Nigerian Universities with the intervention of CBN, NEEDS, TETFUND etc. These pictures were shared online to expose the Federal Government on its failure to address education problems, justifying that ASUU is doing the strike to save Nigeria’s education from collapsing. And, they are doing it to “help” the students.
The question I always asked and finally got answer to, is that strike itself is a problem, and a problem can never be a way of solving problems. As one of the successful students, I spend seven years in a university for a degree program. My brother who is in level two will also spend seven years if he finished successfully without a spill over. And, my son who wrote and passed Jamb this year will have to wait for one year to be admitted to university, because there is a batch of Jambites ahead of him, who are to be admitted before him. I am one of many who were failed by ASUU, both as an undergraduate and postgraduate student, and now as a father. I want ASUU and ASUU hailers to think over this! Are they really helping matters? How could you say that you are doing it for parents and students while they are the major victims economically, morally, socially and educationally?
I am a sympathizer of ASUU on the issue of under payments of its salaries and emoluments. But ASUU is overloading the government, becoming so rigid and stern if not being so dictating on those demands. Hiding its contribution to the downfall of education, while blaming the government alone, without considering other sectors. Especially the situation of the country.
The first responsibility of government is protection of life and properties of people, which the current government is battling with. Enabling good environment for business is one of the other responsibilities. Education is also a right!
Before government give permission for any institution to start or introduce a new department, certain requirement most be met. Through its regulatory bodies like the University Commission. These commision set some standards for all institutions and departments, such standards are usually compromised by members of ASUU at various levels. These bodies including the related Professional bodies gives license, accreditation or interim accreditation for the programs or courses to operate, and the accreditation/license are subject to renewal.
The requirement which are based on human resources, student ratios in relation to number of lecturers and spaces which includes the classes, library, laboratories, equipments, offices etc. The busy time in Universities is when it is time for inspection/accreditation by the NUC or Professional bodies. Instead of allowing it to undergo naturally for necessary corrections, suggestions, improvements or cancellation of programs. These bodies are usually misinformed by swapping departmental resources by managements and of course members of ASUU! So it is on records that everything is alright and the Nigerian Universities has enough standards and facilities to operate. What has ASUU done to stop corropt practices in the higher institution? Are they helping the government in ensuring everything is alright or manipulating accreditation? Are they helping matters regarding immoralities.
Another claims and excuses by the ASUU and ASUU hailers is the claim that they spend for their training education and publications. There may be some exceptions, but I know that most training are covered by PTDF TETFUND, NEEDS and other interventions. On real sense whether knowingly or unknowingly ASUU has already become a sister to an opposition party of the serving government in their struggles. This becomes clear and glaring on its position of suspending any negotiation with the current government which claimed to have approved all the demands of ASUU except on the issue of non-payment of salaries for the six-month periods of strike because of no work no pay policy. It baffles me when I saw some members of ASUU and ASUU hailers claiming that lecturing is not their only works. I think strike is strike, and even if teaching is not the only work of lecturers, it is the major one. The FG is very correct here ASUU cannot Claim for the salary on the work they have not performed. If they are paid, then the government is encouraging ASUU to be doing strike again, again and again. The government is also correct by dragging ASUU to the industrial court. The Honorable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu is also correct by being stern on this issue, this is the only way to stop the unnecessary strikes by labor unions. Strike is disturbing! It affects almost everything and everyone including the lecturers. In fact! it is a wicket idea. Although there is a significant improvement in our higher institutions by the federal government, there is a drastic set back as a result of ASUU strikes.
However, the federal government my as a way of compromise, palliatives, incentives or mercy pay ASUU as well as the Doctors Union for the periods with strong agreement/Undertaking that henceforth they will not demand for payment for the periods of strike. No work no pay policy should prevail to prevent the unnecessary strikes.
I do hope that this is going to be the last ASUU strike in Nigeria.
Zakariya Baba Hardawa is yours Sincerely.
Written from Bauchi. firstname.lastname@example.org