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FG and ASUU: A Showdown to the Last!

                                                                       By Gabriel Sumomoh
 


Since 1999, it has been a recurrent decimal with the way FG and ASUU have always been at loggerheads. The agreement between the two in 2009 has continued to generate the crux of the matter at present; and the basis is the funding of tertiary education in the country.

 

Someone said that “Not until we get the education sector right; we will not be able to get other sectors right.” This is attesting to the fact of the common saying that, “No nation can grow beyond the level of its education.” And where two elephants fight, the grass will definitely suffer. The students have been at home for over eight months now and this is having negative effects on their psychology.

 

In a survey conducted by a newspaper, since 1999, ASUU has gone on strike for 15 times which span 50 months in all. It means relatively that it has gone on strike for at least once in every five years. This is not good for the education system in Nigeria. Universities are supposed to be fertile grounds for idea generation which will lead to growth and development.

 

For this year, it all started in March and with the Covid 19, the students didn’t know they were in for the longest strike ever. Government had mandated all federal universities to register on the integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) but ASUU had demanded that it continue with its University Transparency Accounting Solution (UTAS). What it is fighting for, is its autonomy. Another issue is the payment of earned academic allowances and revitalization fund. According to the Minister of labour and employment, Dr Ngige, as quoted by Vanguard, “ The  N40b Earned Academic Allowances/ Earned Allowances  have also been processed just as the N30b revitalization Fund,  bringing it to a total of N70b .

Government must find a way to nip in the bud the disruption in our education system. For real development to occur in any country, more attention must be given to health and education sectors. This is important because they are directly related to human capital development.

 

The sustainable Development Goals are 17 in number and the 4th goal is Quality Education. It has been recommended that governments should allocate 15% of their budgets to education. I don’t think any government has ever moved closer to that benchmark. The highest we have ever had was 10% and the 2021 budgetary allocation to education is nothing to write home.

 

I want to remind the National Assembly that every form of real developmental ideas always come from the ivory towers. Albeit, we are having dwindling revenue but we need to prioritize education and health as number one and two. Then, security will follow as well.

 

Premium Times reported that, meanwhile,  ASUU’s president, Biodun Ogunyemi, reaffirmed the union’s resolve to remain on strike. “Nigerians should bear with us. ASUU is doing their battle,” Mr Ogunyemi said.

We must find solution to the recurrent and incessant clash of interest between ASUU/NASU and others and the federal government. The only way we can we have people to concentrate and think for development is when they experience a relative long period of order. Scholars in the universities always have this Ideal orientation; the way things are supposed to be. What they have read in the books always point to the ideal situations. This is why youths are in most cases revolutionary. The politicians believe in the permanence of interests and compromises are always the order of the day, to get many things done.

The thinking faculty of an individual can be seriously affected by lack of something tangible to do. Peer pressure can reign supreme when there is nothing more productive to do. Government in recognizing these bad side effects of  the frequent prolonged strikes took a bull by the horn in collaboration with ASUU and called off the strike few days ago but still looking for a permanent way to prevent future crisis.

 


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