New Telegraph

Outrage over continued closure of varsities, FG’s insensitivity

…as students, labour unions vow to protest strike

Nothing tangible or concrete from govt – Unions



Since the extension of the ongoing strike in public universities last week by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigerian students have vowed not to relent in their protest to ensure that their institutions are reopened. KAYODE OLANREWAJU reports


There is public outcry in the country, especially among students and parents over the continued closure of public universities due to prolonged strikes by the university staff unions, and insensitivity of the Federal Government to the plight of the students in resolving the logjam.


The hope of Nigerian students and their parents in the reopening of the universities was dashed on Monday, May 9, 2022, when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) extended its almost four-month ongoing strike by 12 weeks.


ASUU had cited the government’s insensitivity to the plight of the union, the Nigerian students and lack of concern for the development of university education to implement the various agreements reached with the union in the last three decades, as contained in the 2009 Agreement, 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA), as well as forceful implementation of IPPIS, as reasons for its action.


Meanwhile, the extension of the ongoing strike had immediately drawn the students’ ire and condemnation of the students, parents and other stakeholders, prompting the students to take to the streets, roads and campuses across the country to protest the inability of the Federal Government to take proactive step to resolve the crisis, and vowed to resist continued closure of their institution.


But, the Federal Government has promised to resolve the lingering face-off this week with a view to ensuring the reopening of the universities.


This is as President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and the National Assembly have intervened and appealed to the striking staff unions to call off their strikes, and allow a process for renegotiation and dialogue to put permanent end to strikes in the system.


However, when contacted on Sunday on phone, ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said there was no hope of calling off or suspension of the strike.


The President, who said nothing tangible had been had or done by the Federal Government, therefore, pointed out that NIREC has intervened and pleaded for suspension of the strike, but the union would not call off the strike only to be back to square one.


He said: “Yes, NIREC intervened and has done well, but there is nothing tangible or concrete so far from the government. It is only promises and not commitment. NIREC should understand the government we are dealing with, and at the end of the day after suspending the strike the same government will not do anything. That is where the issue still stands.”


Like ASUU, the non-teaching staff unions said nothing has been put on the table by the government to warrant the suspension of the strike. The SSANU Deputy Vice President (South-West), Abdulsobor Salaam, who spoke with New Telegraph, said on phone on Sunday that the unions last week met with the government which was facilitated by NIREC, but nothing tangible or concrete came out of the meeting, except appeal from NIREC to resume and promises by the government. “Throughout the plenary and  technical sessions, nothing came out that could be put on the table about our demands, except promises. Although that does not foreclose looking into the NIREC’s appeal, we are going to discuss this with our JAC at a meeting this week, where we will table it and look at the strength of the appeal to suspend the strike,” Salaam further said.


ASUU had on first on February 14, 2022 embarked on a roll-over four weeks strike for the Federal Government to implement the various agreements reached with the union based on the 2009 Agreement, 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and 2020 Memoranda of Action (MoA), which it accused the government of reneging.


Also, the non-academic staff members in the university system, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) are on indefinite strike, paralysing administrative and other allied activities on campuses.



Osodeke, while announcing the extension of the strike on a Raypower FM’s programme: “Political Platform,” on Monday, May 9, accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige of stopping the salaries of ASUU members, but approved payment for other unions in the university system, who were also on strike.


However, ASUU expressed its disappointment with the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led 2009 Renegotiation  Committee set up by President Buhari, alleging that the committee was yet to call “a single meeting to date” to resolve the lingering impasse between government and the union.


Following the continued closure of the institution, anxiety is being raised over what will become of the fate of candidates writing the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), when the existing students could not proceed with their studies.


The extension of the roll-over strike, has since last week continued to generate wild outcry and protest among parents and youth, and particularly university students, who trooped to their campuses and highways to protest the union’s action and the insensitivity of the government to their plight almost four months’ closure of their institutions.



Worried by the development, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), led by its President, Sunday Asefon, which issued a nine-day ultimatum to the Federal Government has vowed to frustrate and disrupt any political gathering and primary elections of the two major political parties in Abuja and elsewhere across the country, except a permanent solution is found to the on-going ASUU and other unions’ strikes.


Piqued by the government foot dragging to address ASUU’s demands, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have given  the government an ultimatum and threatened to join the strike in solidarity with ASUU for the implementation of the union’s demands.


Meanwhile, few weeks ago, the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN), a body of education reporters across print, broadcast and online media organisations in the country, had in Lagos organised a peaceful walk, where Nigerian parents cried out and condemned in totality the continued stay of the students at home due to closure of the nation’s public universities by strike.


Tagged: “EWAN #Walk For Public Universities,” the association called for immediate reopening of universities, and raised concerns over the continued closure of the institutions as a result of the government’s deliberate silence in resolving the logjam with the various unions.


ASUU, on March 13, 2022 on the expiration of the initial four-weeks, extended the strike by two months, and again on May 9, extended by another three months over the refusal and failure of the Federal Government to implement their various demands for enhanced welfare and overhauling of the entire Nigerian university system. Aggrieved by the development, some of the students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), last Monday stormed the Akoka campus of the university in protest of ASUU’s announcement extending the strike by three months.


In Osun State, the university students described the extension of strike as callous, selfish and an attempt to further degrade the educational standard of the country. The students threatened to confront the unions and Federal Government if nothing is done within a week to resolve the crisis, even as a 400-Level undergraduate of Osun State University, Ikire Campus, Sodiq Yusuf, expressed his sadness over the development.


Also, Roheemah Abdulkareem of Philosophy Department in the same institution, bemoaned the situation, saying “this graveyard silence by the government must stop, as the future of Nigerian students is in jeopardy.


The National President of National Association of Osun State Students, Moshood Agboola noted that the patriotism of ASUU is in question owing to the inability to amicably resolve the crisis in the interest of Nigerian students.


At the University of Calabar (UNICAL), the students, who bemoaned the extension of strike by ASUU, expressed regrets over the continued strike, saying it has dragged the students backward by a year. A 300-Level student, Effiong Edem Peter at the Sociology Department, said: “I am a Sociology student in my Third year. I don’t think any student is happy with the ongoing strike. What the Federal Government is doing is to frustrate the younger ones. Now, I don’t know which year I will leave this school and that is the same with other students.” he said.


It is the same story of woe at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), where the students on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest to express their disappointment over the ongoing strike by ASUU.


The students, who gathered in their large numbers during the rally, unfolded plans to protest to major places such as the Government House, the roads linking Ilorin Airport, the State House of Assembly, federal secretariat, Police headquarters, Directorate of State Security Services (DSS), among others, if the meeting between the ASUU and the Federal Government failed to resolve the strike crisis this week.



The protesting students decried their continued stay at home due to the strike, called on the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands in order to enable them to complete their studies on record time, threatening that Nigerian students would have nothing to do with the general elections if the strike action was not called off.


According to the President of the UNILORIN Students’ Union, Taofik Waliu, the protest was aimed at creating awareness among stakeholders and members of the public over their hopelessness due to the lingering ASUU strike. “We are tired. We want to graduate. The Federal Government should listen to ASUU and meet their demands.


However, if nothing fruitful comes out after the meeting between the government and ASUU this week, we will move en masse continuously with other students of 10 educational institutions in the state to block roads to various places in the state capital to register our displeasure over the strike,” the students said.


Reacting to the development, some graduates of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) in Abia State, expressed dismay that their results were not process after completing their final examinations and consequently could not be mobilised for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) due to the strike. “The Federal Government has 70 per cent of the entire blame for the crisis in the university system. If they have their children or wards in the public universities, they won’t leave them to roam the streets for a number of months.


This is because they have their children in private universities abroad,” they alleged. Regretting the almost four months strike, Tolu Asaniyi, a sophomore at the Philosophy Department of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, said: “I am most disappointed with the continued Federal Government/ ASUU face-off. I can’t just comprehend the government’s intention by not addressing the lecturers’ demands all these years.


This is because our so-called leaders do not have their children in Nigerian universities.” “We should weep for the nation’s education sector. The Minister of State for Education could get N100 million to obtain APC presidential form, and the Labour and Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, who could not address ASUU strike, could also get N100m to obtain presidential form,” the students lamented.


As ASUU extended their strike for 12 week, our correspondent, who visited the University of Maiduguri over the development, revealed that the students expressed sadness and pain over the strike; they have lost interest in public universities, which according to them, has been abandoned by the government because their children are schooling abroad. “If you watch out now, we are almost going to lose a complete academic session as a result of the face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU.


This should be a matter of serious concern for any responsive government, they added. A student of UNIMAID, Abubajar Abdulkahi, said: “We are not happy with the development, I am a 500-Level student of the Department of Electrical Electronic Engineering, I wanted to graduate and forge ahead with my career and life, but as you can see I don’t know when I would graduate because of strike by the unions.


At Borno State University (BOSU) , the students called on the Federal Government to do something tangible to address the strike in the interest and future of the students.


Meanwhile, to fix the university education, the students of Imo State University, Owerri, said ASUU has to take such tough decisions, which is in the greater interest of Nigerian students.


They, however, lamented that Nigerian students are passing through tough times, calling on the Federal Government to address the demands of ASUU in order to set the university in the right path of academic and research rediscovery.

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