ASUU Strike: No respite in sight


By Dotun Adefolalu

In the last 48 hours or so, local branches of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have held Congresses on government’s proposition to consider the demands of the union that led to the ongoing strike action. Many members think it’s sheer waste of time – when the strike was declared, part of the resolution was that no Congress should be convened to consider suspending the strike until government implements all the elements of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) of February 2019. This was the minimum.

However, typically, government agents were blackmailing ASUU’s principal officers (POs) at the negotiating table, risibly accusing them of taking a position on government’s ridiculous offers without consulting their members. But for this excuse, the POs would have been thoroughly aspersed for even entertaining the thought of presenting the preposterous propositions for deliberation by members.
In February 2019, government agreed to infuse funds to revitalise Universities, pay earned academic allowances (EAA), reconvene the Committee handling the rẹ-negotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FG agreement and mainstream the EAA into lecturers’ salaries, among others. All these, with a clear-set timeline that was never honoured. Government has reneged on all.

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What ASUU agreed back in 2019 was a compromise on the initial demands of the 2017 MoU. Now, government is making entirely ridiculous offers to the union, a gross beat down on the MoA of 2019. These offers, hare-brained and ludicrous, were unanimously rejected across ASUU branches.

Clearly, government hurriedly invited ASUU to the negotiating table after months of deflection and propaganda because of the #ENDSARS protests. Despite this, their insincerity is palpable, with no tangible commitment to see students return to class. As it is, until the February 2019 agreement is implemented, the striking lecturers are not ready to suspend the strike. In fact, the minimum commitment on the part of government, though a sheer show of goodwill, would have been to pay up the lecturers’ salaries. But no, you invite them to dialogue on empty stomach and propose dim-witted offers. People in government must think that hunger impedes the cognition of the Academic.

On the distraction of IPPIS, which was never an issue of the strike, the union is very clear. Pay members’ salaries using the previous payment platform, until the more robust UTAS is adopted for the university system. The strike will continue for as long as it takes the government to implement all the agreements.
ASUU members have now ‘fasted’ for about five months at the instance of government’s hunger weapon of no-pay. Some, up to eight months; but the union is relentless in its demands. Hunger has never deterred ASUU from prosecuting strike actions. It’s unfortunate that strike and protest are the only language the Nigerian government understands.

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As it is, there’s no respite in sight as the strike continues. The government is only ‘playing games’ with Nigerians. Opprobrium!

Dr Dotun Adefolalu is of the Federal University Lafia

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