Reactions have continued to trail the recent comprehensive, total and indefinite strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
Some stakeholders who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt on Tuesday described the recent announcement by ASUU on the indefinite strike as disheartening and a disaster to the education sector.
A parent who preferred anonymity expressed worries over the latest development while calling on the Federal Government to dialogue with the union so that students could return to school.
“The roll-over strike by ASUU portends disaster for Nigerian education, it is a kind of nailing the coffin of education in Nigeria which is very sad.
”I think response to ASUU has been very lukewarm from the government’s side. It is like government is not keen to tertiary education anymore.
”If it is not, then it should reform the system to give it a new funding mechanism.
”If tertiary education is run smoothly in in Ghana, Liberia, Gambia and much poorer African countries, what is the problem here?,” he said.
He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to learn from these countries on ways to fund tertiary education in the country.
He also advised students not to lose focus but enroll in skills that will better their lives rather than getting involved in criminal activities that could destroy their lives
”I will rather advise students to learn new skills this period and in six months the could become data analysts, working online and earning incomes for themselves.
”If parents are prepared to send their children to school, they should also be prepared to send their children to learn new skills and not just sitting at home because you don’t know how long this strike will take,” he said.
Also, another concerned Nigerian, Kanayo Umeh, said the country would not develop more than the standard of its education, hence the need to take tertiary education more serious.
Mr Umeh said that the way forward to solving the problems is for government to have an honest conversation with ASUU.
According to him, ASUU president had said that the union was ready to bring up concrete resolutions to the table if government is ready to play its card.
”The government must therefore shift ground based on the recent realities and not make promises it cannot keep to.
”This strike actions have affected a lot of Nigerian students especially Post-Graduate students who want to obtain their transcripts for further studies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Save Public Education Campaign, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, said that ASUU was forced to declare the indefinite strike.
The Co-coordinator of the organisation, Vivian Bello, said the organisation would continue to defend the 1999 Constitution to guarantee the freedom of associations and unions.
”To us, we find it completely ridiculous that in spite of huge amount of money the government has lost to corruption, the Federal Government couldn’t deem it important to meet ASUU demands.
“Under the 1999 Constitution, to ban ASUU means that the Federal Government will attack the Chapter 4 of the constitution that guarantees freedom of association and assembly.
“This also means that the government will withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to organise Convention No 87of the International Labour Organisation.
“It portends danger to the Nigerian civil space because “In international law, ILO Conventions 87 and 98 recognise the right to recognise unions and collective bargaining,” she said.
ASUU had declared an indefinite strike on Aug. 29 after series of negotiations with the government.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, had said the union had experienced a lot of deceit at the highest level in the last five and half years, saying FG engaged ASUU in fruitless and unending negotiations without a display of utmost concern.
Nigeria’s public universities have been on strike since Feb. 14 as ASUU declared one month warning strike over unresolved issues with FG.
A month after, the lecturers withdrew their services, the non-teaching staff also commenced their own strike over some demands they claimed the government was unable to meet.
Senior Staff Union of Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions, NASU, and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, all went on strike.
While the three non-teaching staff unions suspended their strikes after government made some offers to them, ASUU has extended its own strike.
Some of the contentious issues that led to ASUU strike are: non-release of revitalisation fund, non-payment of earned allowance (or earned academic allowance), renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement and the release of white paper for visitation panel.
Others are: the non-payment of minimum wage arrears and the alleged inconsistency occasioned by the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS.