We Support ASUU Strike
We Support ASUU Strike
Government Must Implement Agreement
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) supports the ongoing indefinite strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the agreement reached with the staff union two years ago.
We call on members of ASUU to remain steadfast in the strike. We also call on them not to make this a sit-at-home strike alone, instead they should turn the strike into a popular struggle for free education by organising public activities like symposia, rallies, mass protests and demonstrations.
We are convinced that the demands of ASUU, if met, will help in repositioning the already ailing university system. The demands include adequate funding of the university system, better condition of service, genuine autonomy and academic freedom. We would recall that ASUU had earlier this year embarked on a warning strike and afterwards gave the Federal Government the grace of two months to implement the core components of the agreement it had willingly signed with the staff union in 2009 following a four month-strike action. The continuous failure of government to fulfil this agreement is a clear indication of government’s insincerity and non-committal attitude to the development of the education sector.
If the demand for proper funding is met, for instance, it would create enabling environment to be provided for lecturers and non-teaching staff to work properly and guarantee condition that is conducive for learning for students. A properly funded tertiary education will make provision for enough students’ hostels, well equipped laboratories and classrooms, recreational centres, well-stock library and other basic facilities. It would stem the high incidence of brain drain in universities which have seen many academics leaving Nigeria for greener pasture abroad because of poor remuneration, working conditions and grants for research work. This explains why the teaching staff is grossly inadequate in our universities.
Instead of funding education adequately, the Federal and state governments across the country have embarked on a fee hike spree. For instance, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) â€“ led Lagos State Government recently introduced a 725% fee increase in Lagos State University (LASU) with N193, 750 and N348, 750 being the minimum and maximum fees respectively. Equally the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) – led Abia State Government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – led Anambra State Government have both introduced over 50% increases in the fees payable in their respective state universities.
This regime of fee increment has clearly shown that there is no difference between the ruling party and the oppositions as they are all inflicting same anti-poor policies of education commercialization and privatization on students and their poor parents. Despite the mass public outcry that greeted the fee hike in LASU, the state government went ahead to implement the fee hike and proscribed the students’ union for fighting against the outrageous fee hike. Also, rather than promote the development of public educational institutions, government has resorted to granting private ones licenses and handing over secondary schools to their so-called private owners with additional public fund given to them.
Evidently this unpalatable situation in the education sector requires an organized fight back from education workers, students and concerned parents. This is why we commend the decision of other three staff unions in the university (SSANU, NASU and NAAT) to also embark on an indefinite strike over the failure of government to implement the agreement reached with them as far back as 2009.
We therefore call on the Federal Government to immediately implement the agreement reached with all the staff unions so that innocent students can resume class. We put the blame of disruption of the academic calendar on the government as result of her insincerity and negligence of the welfare of staff and students. If government refuses to meet the demands of the striking workers, we will not hesitate to mobilize thousands of Nigerian students and youth on mass demonstrations and protests in solidarity with striking education workers.
We call on Nigerian students, youths, parents and workers to support the striking education workers and compel the federal government to implement all the agreements, and reject outright the commercialization and privatization of public education. Nigerian students must begin to organize mass protests and demonstrations to express their dissatisfaction with the poor state of educational facilities across the campuses and join forces with the staff unions to defeat governments’ neo-liberal educational policies. Only a joint action like this can salvage our collapsing education sector.
We therefore make the following demands:
- For the Federal government to immediately sign and implement agreement reached with ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT so that Nigerian students can resume academic activities.
- Immediate reversal of fee increment in Lagos State University and other universities.
- Funding of education up to 26% of budget as recommended by UNESCO as immediate government remedy to the rot in infrastructures, standard and working condition in the education sector.
- Provision of free, functional public funded education at all levels to ensure that the children of the poor have access to education without hindrance.
- For the Federal government to approve the payment of N40, 000 Cost of Studying Allowance (COSA) to all Nigerian students in tertiary institutions as part of a comprehensive government package to help students meet the cost of textbooks, accommodation, feeding, upkeep and transportation.
- Recall of all victimized students/staff activists and restoration of all banned unions.
- For an independent and democratic Students’ Unionism without interference from the management or government
- Democratic running of the university with involvement of the elected representatives of education workers and students in all the decision making bodies.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto