Indefinite Strike Declaration: Government Perpetuating Crime Against Humanity On Nigerian Students

TIME FOR GENERAL STRIKE AND MASS PROTESTS TO SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION

AGAINST all hope of public Universities in Nigeria re-opening to academic activities to Nigerian Students and others, this hope has roundly been dashed as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday this week, declared an indefinite strike action. This ASUU’s indefinite strike declaration is coming on the heels of failed talks with the Federal Government over contentious issues pertaining the tertiary education sector. The President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, had earlier in the week while making the declaration, announced that the talks with the federal government have become “fruitless”.
This is another big blow to the collective psyche of students all over the nation and even Parents in the country, who have watched haplessly as the destinies of their children continue to hang in the balance.
For us in the SAVE-PUBLIC EDUCATION-CAMPAIGN, this is a pure disaster as there cannot be a greater disservice to the generation of young Nigerians as our University Students are, than systematically denying them education. We view this purely as a crime against humanity and we want to make it clear, that we will hold all those in authority in this country, as well as in the education sector itself responsible for this.
We find it completely ridiculous that despite huge amount of money the government has lost to corruption, as well as expended on politics, the federal government could not, by all means deem it important to meet ASUU’s demands.
For the records, ASUU began the ongoing strike on February 14, 2022, after the Federal Government reneged severally on implementing agreement it freely entered into with the Union in 2009. One month after the lecturers withdrew their services, non-teaching staff in the sector also commenced strike action on very similar grounds.
Some of the contentious issues that led to the strike include the non-release of revitalization fund, non-payment of earned allowances (or earned academic allowances), renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, release of white paper of visitation panels, non-payment of minimum wage arrears and the inconsistency occasioned by the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS. The alternative, UTAS proposed by ASUU has been tested and proven but the federal government continues to grandstand on IPPIS which is largely corruption-ridden.
In a similar vein, there have been rumors that the federal government is planning to ban ASUU as a punitive action for refusing to suspend the strike. This is totally ill-adviced and highly draconian. SAVE-PUBLIC EDUCATION-CAMPAIGN candidly advices the government to banish such thoughts, as we and all men and organizations of goodwill, will continue to defend the 1999 constitution, under which Chapter 4 of its Provisions, firmly and unequivocally provides for, and guaranties the Freedom of Association and Assembly, which is also provided for, and protected by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights as well as the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organisze, Convention No 87of the International Labour Organisation, ILO.
Instead of banning ASUU we rather call on government to meet ASUU’s demands without further delay and in so doing, take urgent steps to redeem whatever is left of the integrity of the tertiary educational system of Nigeria, which is fast turning into a laughing stock in the committee of Nations.
We make unequivocal call to the federal government and specifically the Ministry of education authorities; to pay the striking lecturers their six months withheld salaries. Continuing to grandstand on this and by consequence prolonging the strike action, is a great disservice to the destinies of the millions of young Nigerian students who are looking up to their government to do act responsibly and conciliatorily for the sake of their future which hangs perilously in the balance now.
Lastly, we again also call on Nigerian Students, Organized Labour, Workers and Civil Society Groups to unite and remain consistent in mobilizing support for ASUU until their demands are met and our Universities re-open to normalcy again. In this regard, we strongly urge the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to, in gloomy periods as this, unite and embark on the three-days general strike as they earlier committed to, in solidarity with the struggles of the lecturers and students in Nigeria’s tertiary education sector. Indeed, no effort or sacrifice is too much to make for the cause and sake of our children all over Nigeria