It is no news that the students across the public universities in Nigeria have been in their respective homes as a result of the lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The university lecturers, despite the closure of all schools and tertiary institutions by the federal government in March, declared an indefinite strike on Monday, March 23, 2020.
This follows the expiration of the 2-weeks warning strike embarked upon by the union on the 9th of March, 2020, just before the closure of institutions by the federal government of Nigeria in curbing the spread of COVID-19 disease.
ASUU, on a fierce demand of implementation of the agreement reached between the university lecturers and the federal government in 2019, as well as a demonstration against the mandatory registration on Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS) ordered by the Federal government for the payment of salaries, has refused to call off the strike which has lingered for over 7 months.
This year’s ASUU Strike has been the historically longest industrial action embarked upon by the union since 1999 when Nigeria officially returned to democratic era.
Before now, the longest strike by the union has been 6-month long in 2003 which was caused by the failure of the Obasanjo-led federal government to fulfill the agreement reached by the two parties.
Although, before the democratic era, the union has been known for militancy in their demands, a notable action of 1988 which led to their proscription and seizure of all their properties which lasted till 1990 when they were allowed to resume work.
Despite the months long strike, the union’s refusal to bend in their demand has been a major cause of the lingering strike, as the Federal government is equally not willing to compromise their stand.
While ASUU’s steadfastness in their demand is commendable, it should also be noted that where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most.
However, there seemed to be a glint of light at the end of the tunnel of ASUU Strike after the October 15th negotiation between the union and the Labour minister-led federal government negotiation team, when the Federal government agreed to test the University Transparency Account System (UTAS), proposed by ASUU as alternative to the federal government’s IPPIS.
Furthermore at the end of the dialogue, PUNCH reported that the Buhari-led administration approved payment of N30 billion to the union as part of the fulfillment of the 2019 agreement.
With all these unfolded in the heat of the #EndSARS protest going on across the country, there seemed to be a glint of hope and assurance of resumption on the part of the university students as they are probably getting prepared to resume soon.
It is quite unfortunate that the testing of the UTAS is yet to be completed since 15th of October the Federal government has begun reviewing the payment platform. Consequently, the October 28 deliberation ended in another deadlock.
At this point, the little hope of school resumption by the University students this year was crushed by comflicting party.
However, there has been calls from defferent bodies and religion organizations for the university lecturers to jeopardize their demands for the sake of the students wasting off at home, which has fallen into their deaf hears.
As the strike lingers, is there any hope of students resuming their academic life this year or nothing of such till next year? Your kind opinion is highly required here.