NASU/SSANU TWO WEEKS WARNING STRIKE: WE BLAME THE INEPTITUDE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR THE SHUTDOWN OF UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
WE CALL FOR A UNITED STRUGGLE OF ALL EDUCATION WORKERS’ UNIONS AND STUDENTS
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) extends solidarity to members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) for the two weeks warning strike declared through the Joint Action Committee of the unions. We call on the Federal Government to immediately meet the workers’ demands in order not to compound the crisis in the country’s public universities which are already hit by an ongoing lecturers’ strike.
As a result of the strike by SSANU and NASU, all administrative and municipal services in public Universities have been shut down. This combined with the impact of the ongoing strike by members of the Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) means that all public Universities in Nigeria are practically shutdown. It is unprecedented for all the four staff unions in the nation’s universities to withdraw their services at the same time. This shows the scale of the crisis in the country’s education sector and the complete bankruptcy of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in dealing with it.
The strike action by SSANU and NASU became inevitable due to the refusal of the Federal Government to meet the demands of the unions. This is the same lackadaisical attitude shown to the members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The demands made by NASU and SSANU include Renegotiation of 2019 agreement, payment of earned allowances, inclusion of university staff school teachers into the university community, non-payment of minimum wage arrears, funding of state university among others. These demands date back to 2020 and 2021. After over one year of assuring the unions that their demands would be met, the federal government did nothing!
The ineptitude of the Federal Government will not come as a shock to many. Over the years the government has left the education sector to wallow in rottenness while budgetary allocation to the education sector keeps vacillating between 4% and 10%. Under this condition of underfunding, it is not unexpected for the education sector to be ridden with various crises. This is made worse by the undemocratic management of institutions, which means that the limited amount allocated is easily siphoned by the managements. For us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), alongside the demand for proper funding of the education sector, we also demand the democratic management of institutions to accommodate the active participation of students and workers through their unions.
We urge members of NASU and SSANU not to make the strike a sit-at-home affair; rather, mass protest, leafletting, press-conferences etc. should be called to put more pressure on the government. We are also in favour of joint actions of all unions on strike and others who are also agitating for different demands. It is this kind of united struggle that is needed in the education sector to guarantee victory for the struggle.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) urges students not to be mere spectators in this unfolding struggle against the irresponsibility of the government to public education. Students, just like education workers, suffer from the miserable state of the education sector. Necessary facilities to aid effective living and learning are mostly absent while those available are in decrepit condition. News of avoidable death of students and other calamities continue to make daily headlines. This is why it is important for students to join the struggle actively.
We note the solidarity support that has been given to the struggle of ASUU by different students’ unions in form of press statements; however, more than that is needed. Students must begin mass actions to support the striking workers, put up their own demands on school fees, facilities, welfare and democratic rights and equally raise questions about the state of public education. This united struggle of students and workers is needed to ensure that government does not continue to look the other way to the demands of students and workers. This however must be linked with a mass struggle and, as a start, a 48 hour general strike to demand an end to all anti-poor policies as well as the building of a mass workers’ party to put an end to capitalism and enthrone a workers and poor people’s government armed with Socialist programmes.
Ogunjimi Isaac Ayobami
ERC Deputy National Coordinator
ERC Acting National Mobilization Officer
ERC email: email@example.com