University lecturers in Nigeria have been on strike for five months with no end in sight.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off the strike, saying ‘enough is enough’.
‘I hope that the institutions we have like ASUU will sympathise with the country and the people. There is nothing wrong with showing the government and leadership that you do not like what they are doing but enough is enough’, he said in Katsina State.
‘Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake. So those of you who have friends that are teachers and influential, please persuade them to go back to the classes so that our children can resume their educational pursuit’.
However, the union, in a statement, said the president’s call was laughable, urging him to do the needful.
Meanwhile, the children of average Nigerians and the underprivileged have lost a semester, and there are fears they might end up losing a session, for no fault of theirs.
The tendency of students who have lost interest in education due to the incessant strikes to move into crime-related activities such as cybercrime is high and this is why President Buhari needs to show leadership and acquiesce to ASUU’s demands rather than pleading with citizens to convince the lecturers to jettison their action.
ASUU’s demands include implementation of the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA) on funding for revitalisation of public universities, renegotiation of the 2009 federal government/ASUU agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
The revitalisation of the universities and improved welfare for lecturers are legitimate and should be treated as such by the President Buhari administration. Many public universities have poorly equipped laboratories, dilapidated lecture halls and hostels. Equally legitimate is the union’s demand for lecturers’ earned allowances.
To meet the annual N200 billion pledge, the federal government should prioritise the incorporation of a special legislative budgetary appropriation into the annual national budgets. According to the World Bank, tertiary education is instrumental in fostering growth, reducing poverty, and boosting shared prosperity.
So, the president should stop seeking the sympathy of ASUU and address the matter head-on. After all, the lecturers are on strike primarily due to the failure of successive governments to honour agreements.
We therefore call on President Buhari to direct the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, and his colleague in the Ministry of Education, Adamu Adamu, to return to the negotiation table to end the strike immediately.
Photo source: Femi Adesina