ASUU Demands Are So Simple
How can a sapiocidal (killers of the most intelligent) government have credibility? The industrial action of the ASUU of 2022 is an unlikely revelation of how much incapacity and insensitivity the Government of Nigeria (GON) hides behind. A government refuses to pay the salaries and benefits of academic staff and other civil servants. And cannot invest in universities and other institutions across the civil service. What happens? The GON cannot win.
The GON is even trying to register a rival union, CONUA, that will dance to their tune and promise to never strike. Such is a ‘divide and rule’ tactic. The move is desperate and will fail, according to Prof. Ezekiel Agbalagba. He states professors and lecturers love their jobs and would not strike if the GON meets the basic conditions of universities. It is a necessary strike of reluctance. And we leave it to the GON to solve the problem.
The Nigerian public should know the causes of the ASUU Strike 2022 and feel it for ourselves. Please, ask yourselves, dear readers, the following.
Is it right to pay academic staff their salaries and allowances in full and on time?
Does Nigeria not need good universities that can compete well in world rankings?
Are academic staff not knowledgeable enough to manage their own payments systems?
Do academic staff deserve academic freedom to teach, research, and govern their academic careers?
Is it wrong to fight against the terrible state of decay of university facilities, including lecture halls, student accommodation and laboratories?
Who will be the beneficiaries of the demands of the ASUU strike?
We will answer only the last question directly. The beneficiaries are the students, the youth, their parents, and the nation (economy and polity) called Nigeria.
ASUU has most of the finest thinkers in Nigeria. That is not arguable. In contrast, the GON has few thinkers. The few thinkers in the GON worry too much about their privilege and power to acknowledge truth and justice. In the ensuing battle, thinkers win. We hear threats from the GON to ASUU, but they only reveal desperation. ASUU is also exposing top GON officials to the fact their jobs are vulnerable. Come the 2023 elections, if it ever happens, the members of the current GON will be out of a job. The GON will lose the presidency.
In conversations with Prof Ezekiel Agbalagba of FUPRE, he affirms the determination and demands of ASUU are unshakable. He also dismisses the GON’s cunning attempt to register a rival union of academic staff, CONUA. It was a clever attempt in the past that was a stark failure. Another attempt by the GON to do similar now will also fail.
The GON is afraid and it can no longer hide its naked desperation. Their only redemption is to pay ASUU staff their salaries in full, not in pieces, and make the basic investments the universities require. The universities are in bad shape. However, the GON is hollowing out universities, in both funding and human resources. Such is a crime against the youth and the nation.
Prof Agbalagba was kind enough to tell us the details of the strike and ASUU’s demands. The demands of ASUU to GON are simple and workable; a result of careful negotiations since 2006 between the GON and ASUU. The demands intend to make Nigerian universities competitive in global rankings and recognition.
First, is the renegotiation of Condition of Service every three years. It is a simple three-year review. First negotiated in 2006 and 2009, was due in 2012 but has yet to happen. The current strike has been rolling over for years, sixteen years. When will it stop? That is a question for the reneging GON.
Second, NEEDS was an initiative undertaken by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then Minister of Finance. NEEDS was a policy to reduce poverty and better development. Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged Nigerian universities were decaying. Education reduces poverty, research builds economies.
The GON then agreed with a NEEDS Assessment Report as conducted by them that public universities require N1.5 trillion. The funds were ready for release to the universities over three sessions from 2009 to 2011 to revamp or revitalise them. So far, GON has only released N220 billion, one sixth of the requirement. One cannot buy a lifesaving medicine costing N6,000 with N1,000. Nigerian universities are decaying fast.
Third, is the method of payment adopted by the ASUU, the UTAS. UTAS is a world-class information management system developed by ASUU members on demand. IPPIS the GON imposes on ASUU is beyond reasonable doubt inadequate and fraudulent. All the tests conducted by the NITDA, UTAS validate it is flawless, but GON is pretending not to know about it.
ASUU is capable enough to manage its own peculiar style of finances. You cannot manage a football club like you manage a ministry. Nor can you run a university like a brigade.
IPPIS does not recognise Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) and other non-salary payments academics earn. IPPIS is not fit for purpose. We are not even considering staff benefits such as car purchase/refurbishment loans, housing loans, and the 26-day academic leave for research.
In addition, the National Assembly passed the Universities Autonomy Act No. 1 into law on 10th July 2003. The GON is not respecting the law. It denies universities their autonomy and academic freedom. Initially, military rule was to blame for this problem. Now, under a democratic government, things are much worse.
Fourth, ASUU requests a change of the NUC Law. The law demands State Governments wishing to establish universities must deposit N10 billion as their ability to fund.
The GON has already agreed in a MOU to honour the four demands of ASUU for several years and even recently. But the GON is now reneging on their obligations as it suits them. Honouring these four demands terminates the problem.
Prof Agbalagba is clear when he says the registration of CONUA that pledges never to strike has no place in the future of GON relations with universities. If the GON fulfils its obligations to universities, ASUU will never strike. We believe him, but we shall see.