ASUU Ends Strike: Parents, Students Jubilate As ASUU Ends 169-day strike


Students and their parents jubilated on Tuesday over the suspension of the 169-day strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, calling off its five-month-old strike have overtaken the damage the long-drawn dispute has done to education. How do we ensure that in the new year, another ASUU strike does not occur?
What appears to be important is the fact that the lecturers are returning to the classrooms. Government is relieved that it has stopped the embarrassing headlines of universities that have lost five months of academic activities while haggling over a 2009 agreement.
How important is education to the authorities? How would the lost learning time be recovered? What is the quality of certificates the students would obtain after the long absence from school?
ASUU’s refusal to call off the strike until government produced proof of depositing the money to meet its demands in the Central Bank is another chapter in government’s relations with ASUU. Other labour unions would adopt the same measures in resolving own issues. SEE MORE AFTER CUT>>>>

Government has failed to gain the trust of labour unions. When the Academic Staff Union Polytechnics, ASUP, went on strike, government did not speak to the union for three months. The issue remains partially resolved. Governments sign agreements with no intention of keeping them. The disputed 2009 agreement is due for re-negotiation, yet it has not been implemented.

Our governments should change their policies of planning for immediate needs. ASUU is not the only labour union in education. Its strike that took so long to resolve is not the major challenge education faces.
At the foundational levels, challenges with number and quality of teachers, teaching aids, classroom space, learning environment, and curriculum persist. The thinking that once the universities are open, education is on the proper ken is deceptive. Higher education is at most vacuous when foundations at the primary and secondary school levels are ignored.
Governments urgently need to address these issues as well as the bureaucracies in education. They are wasteful; savings from emerging them could release funds for core education.
What are governments’ plans beyond depositing N200 billion to end the ASUU strike? How would they tackle sustainable funding to stem another wave of strikes next year? Would governments ever consider education important enough that it should run without disruptions?
Thousands of conferences held annually on the future of education are mere talk sessions that hardly improve education. When will the changes be made? Do governments require strikes to realise the importance of education? What are governments’ plans for education?
Unions, which always consider the welfare of their members as a first charge, cannot determine the future of education. Governments should provide sustainable means for funding education, not to avoid strikes, but to underline the importance of education.
Even though ASUU ordered its members to return to work immediately, students of most public universities  might not return to their  campuses because of the Yuletide .
The union embarked on the   strike on July 1 to demand the  implementation of an agreement it reached with the Federal Government in 2009.
ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge,  who  announced the suspension of the   strike which started  on July 1, said the union had accepted the resolutions it signed with the government on December 11.
The resolutions include immediate commencement of the revitalisation processes as contained in a letter with reference number FME/PS/398/C.1/Vol i.1/110, dated  December 12, 2013, titled, “Opening of Dedicated Account for Revitalisation of Nigerian Universities.”
Fagge told journalists at the Bosso Campus of the  Federal University of Technology, Minna  in Niger  State, that  the revitalisation funds for five years would be provided by the Federal Government.
He said, “Finally, NEC has resolved to suspend the strike embarked upon on July 1, 2013, with effect from Tuesday, December 17, 2013 and directs its branches to resume work forthwith.
“First we expect that implementation monitoring committee which has already been constituted to the satisfaction of government and ASUU, will work assiduously so that the process of revitalisation of Nigerian universities will receive the much needed boost, and our students and their parents will begin to see the fruits of the ASUU struggles.
 “ASUU would have preferred to undertake the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement in the second quarter of 2014, but we were persuaded to shift the date to the third quarter, and we agreed as a gesture of goodwill.
 “It is our hope that government will honour these resolutions as signed. ASUU hopes that the common position between government and ASUU that nobody shall be victimised in any way whatsoever for his or her role in the process leading to these resolutions and agreements will be implemented.”
According  to  him,   ASUU and the government also  agreed that an Implementation Monitoring Committee should meet to verify  the level of implementation of the Earned Academic Allowances  of the union members.
 He  added  that the Federal Government agreed to provide fund for the payment of the  outstanding balance.
 Fagge said ASUU expected  the government to act quickly to engage the services of the universities in special consulting services as contained in the resolutions.
 “This is one of the challenges that the universities have been asking the government to throw to Nigerian universities; we are more than ready to meet the challenges,’’ he  added.
He  therefore  urged parents and guardians to demand better funding of the public universities, better living conditions of students, laboratories on campuses, and freedom for their children to enable them to get all round education.
 “We appeal to parents to take more interest in the proper education of their children and work with us for the revitalisation of public universities,’’ he said.
Promising that  ASUU members  would make up for the lost time, Fagge said, “The five months’ sacrifice is worth it. We will engage ourselves in producing quality students through research in various institutions.”
While  appraising the strike, Fagge  condemned some vice-chancellors, who he alleged tried to sabotage the efforts of the union.
 He said, “We condemn, without any reservation, vice-chancellors, who made efforts to undermine and in some cases, attempted  to break our  strike”.
Earlier, he had apologised to the Nigeria Union of Journalists, especially its  members who were   reportedly assaulted by some ASUU members during the NEC meeting on Monday.
 Fagge said, “I apologise to you for what transpired yesterday (Monday). It is not in our habit to chase away the press. We felt mosquitoes were biting you people and you were outside in the cold.
 “Please whatever transpired between you (media) and ASUU was not in our nature. On behalf of the NEC and the whole ASUU, I tender an unreserved apology.”
The National Executive Committee of ASUU   had on Monday met  for several hours  at the FUT, Minna  to deliberate on  the  agreement with the  Federal Government.
The union’s leadership  had on  November 4  met with President Goodluck Jonathan for over 13 hours  over  the non-implementaion of  the controversial  2009    agreement.
At the end of the marathon  meeting, the Federal Government agreed that it would inject N1.3tn into public universities beginning from the last quarter of this year.
Students, parents  express joy:
However, as   the news of the suspension  of  the strike spread yesterday, students of the University of Lagos,  Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife,  University of Nigeria, Nsukka,  University of Calabar,  and the Cross River University of  Technology jubilated but said they would not return to their campuses until the beginning of next year.
In Akoka where UNILAG  is located, some female students living in private hostels,were seen exchanging banter on the streets.
Even parents expressed happiness that the Federal Government and ASUU finally  reached an agreement that   led to the suspension of the strike.
A final year Law student of  the university,  who gave her name simply as Ann, said, “Thank God that the strike has ended. I am sure you won’t understand what it means to be at home for almost six months doing nothing and hoping for an end to the strike.
“But now that ASUU has had mercy on us, I feel elated because very soon, I will become a graduate.”
Ann however said she would not rush to the institution because “normal academic activities would not hold until early January when  most students would have returned from the Christmas and New Year festivities.”
Mrs. Edna Okonkwo, whose son is an Architecture student in UNILAG, said, “Even though ASUU dragged the strike for too long and lost our sympathy, I am pleased that my boy will soon return to school.”
In Ile-Ife, OAU students,  were seen jumping   and   congratulating one another.
“Thank God that the strike has been suspended,’ they chorused.
Though  they  were sure  that lectures might  not  hold again this year, the students said suspending the strike was an assurance that academic  activities  had  resumed in OAU.
One of them,   who identified  herself as Victoria,  said suspending the strike was a challenge for her to buckle up.
“I am extremely happy with the development. Though we have missed so much, this is a call for me to  sit up  so that I can cover up what has been missed,” she said.
Another student, Eludayo Elugoke, noted that suspending the strike would be more commendable if the lecturers began  work  within 24 hours.
He said, “It is not enough to end the strike but to start lectures.The earlier the better because it is annoying to have gained admission since 2012 and in 2014 you are still at the same level.
“Our lecturers should please hasten their resumption.”
When contacted, the chairman of ASUU, OAU, Prof. Akinola Adegbola, said lectures would commence as soon as possible.
“We have suspended the strike. It is expected that as soon as the branch chairmen get  to their institutions, lectures should commence,” he added.
In Nsukka, an  elated student, Adanna Nnanna, said she was happy that the Federal Government finally acceded to the demands by ASUU.
A  parent in Enugu said, “We are happy about the development. I want to thank the Federal Government for this and plead with them not to allow a thing like this(strike) to come up again.”
Also in  Calabar, Cross River State, a   parent, Etim Usim, described the suspension of the strike  as a welcome development. Etim,  who has two children in UNICAL, however, said that in order to avoid disruption of academic activities in the future, the Federal Government  should ensure that its latest   agreement  with ASUU was fully  implemented.
A final year engineering student of the CRUTECH, Miss Helina Ado, said  though students were adversely affected   by the strike, they were  happy that the strike had  finally been suspended.
Also, Mr. Benson Williams, a UNICAL student commended  the government for resolving the dispute with ASUU amicably.
Monitoring  committee inaugurated:
Shortly after news of the suspension spread,  the Federal Government inaugurated a 12-man monitoring committee on the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities.
The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, is the chairman  of the committee.
Performing the inauguration in Abuja on Tuesday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator  Anyim Pius Anyim,  applauded ASUU for suspending  the  strike.
Anyim  promised that the committee would  work to uphold the renewed confidence between ASUU and the Federal Government.
 He said, “Notwithstanding the fact that some of the sessions were typically stormy, I am gladdened by the fact that  the strike has been called off and we are here to formalise the process that will work to uphold the renewed confidence between ASUU and the government.
“I consider the inauguration of the monitoring committee as strategic and timely, especially in view of its potential to consolidate and add new energy to the speedy and complete implementation of the recommendations of the committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities.”
 He called on all university unions to reflect on the time lost due to the strike, and take measures to regain it.
Wike  also urged the committee members to ensure the judicious use of the fund.
The  committee  was divided into two sub-committees Allocation and Logistics.
The Allocation sub-committee is chaired by a former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. It has   the Vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan,  representatives of Committee of  the  Pro-chancellor, Budget office,  ASUU and  the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities as members.
The Logistics committee chaired by the Director of Tertiary Education  has as members,  representatives of  the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities,  NAT, ASUU,   and  the vice-chancellor of Bayero University, Kano.
UNN Pro-Chancellor suspended:
The minister, who gave the sub-committees two days to submit their reports for deliberation, also suspended the Chairman/Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Emeka Enejere, with immediate effect.
A statement by Wike’s Special Assistant (Media), Simeon Nwakaudu , gave no reason for the action.
FG to pay salary arrears: reliably gathered in Abuja that the Federal Government was ready to pay the outstanding salary arrears of ASUU members.
It was learnt  that the government  also  reached an understanding with the union to pay the lecturers ‘salaries as a precondition to suspending  the strike.
“The Federal Government has agreed to pay the salary arrears. It is part of the understanding we reached.”
When asked by  one  of our correspondents  if the  government indeed accepted to pay the salary arrears of the lecturers,   Wike  replied,  “What is your problem? Has ASUU told you they have a problem with that?
“That they have called off the strike is the most important thing. For the other ones, leave the details for us. Any agreement we reached with ASUU must be honoured.”
The National Vice-president of ASUU, Mr. Biodun Ogunyemi, who was sighted at the NUC office in Abuja, refused to comment on the issue. gathered that both parties decided to be silent on the issue because of the controversy the decision of the government to withhold the salaries generated.
But our source said, “The Federal Government has agreed to pay the arrears immediately.”
Agreement’ll be fully implemented FG:
The  Federal Government, in a statement, reiterated its commitment to implementing all the items  contained in the agreement with ASUU.
In the  statement by Nwakaudu, the government  said  that  investing  N1.3tn (including the N200bn already released for this year) in  infrastructure  in  the  public universities  in the next six years would  transform them   into international centres of excellence.
Atiku urges education summit:
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who also hailed the  suspension of the strike,  called for a convocation of a summit to chart the way forward for the  education sector.
He said, “It has become imperative for ASUU, the Federal Government and other stakeholders to put in place,  a mechanism for addressing crisis of this nature so that our students and their parents will not be visited with prolonged closure of our universities in future with its concomitant effects.” Abubakar  added that education remained vital for the nation’s scientific and socio-economic development.
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