Is ASUU Being Greedy or FG Insensitive?
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body of all academic activities in Nigerian universities, have been on strike for as many months as one can remember, crippling learning processes, and rendering the students, who constituted over 60 per cent of the Nigerian youth inactive.
Much as ASUU strike is a recurring decimal in the Nigeria body polity, many are of the opinion that this is one strike too many. Not only that, it is believed that this is good a time to continue in the strike. The reasons are not far-fetched.
In the first instance, the country is grappling with recovery from a disastrous pandemic, and as such everyone is making sacrifices to contribute to a speedy recovery. It is expected that ASUU should be part of this sacrifice.
While no one is asking them to jettison, no matter how sensible or otherwise it is, this is not the best of times for the children to stay at home.
On the other hand, one wonders what it will take the government to grant the lecturers their demand, no matter how unaccommodating they think it is. The Nigerian public will reason that after all the government are paying themselves mega fees and allowances.
Of course, imagine where a whopping sum of N2.2 billion is spent just for prayers against Boko Haram or where the Police budgeted the sum N2.8 billion just to fuel cars and bikes for a season. Yes, ASUU must therefore, demand its own bogus share of the national cake.
It doesn’t matter if what they are getting already is quite substantial and enough. Yes, they should, or is N29 million payment not enough for a lawmaker in the lower house? So why would the arms of government appropriate to themselves such huge and robust share of the ‘loot’ and leave ASUU out of it?
Listening to the Exclusive Dollar Club president, who is also a former President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr.Jerry Oguzie, speaking the other day, one would understand the insensitivity in the government’s decision to ignore ASUU’s request.
“We are perturbed that ASUU has been on strike for the past six months, we are perturbed that our children are no longer in school, we are worried that our children are losing what they know. The FG should address the issue and stop playing politics with that,” he said.
In this country, when you enter the university, your time of graduation is not determined by your brilliance or ability to pass all your courses without carryover, but on the whims and caprices of the federal government or ASUU, depending on whose stubbornness or greed is more pronounced.
If truth be told, the amount ASUU needs from the government to end the lingering imbroglio cannot bring the country to its knees, in fact, it is just a drop in the ocean. This is a country where cash has been found stashed and abandoned, with no specified owner.
Most times, in decaying condition. What is difficult about giving It to ASUU, at least those stranded children can go back to school. The government must respond to the lecturers’ demand. It doesn’t matter if they attend classes once in a whole session, leaving the students at the mercy of what they can do for themselves on their own.
It doesn’t matter if they belong to more one campuses where they also earn as, what do they call it, yes, visitor.
But what is the bone of contention, especially as it has been said that the government has made some concessions.
The strike according to ASUU, is to press on its demands which include revitalisation, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, Visitation Panels, among others.
However, recently, it has mandated government to leave the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as condition to call off the strike.
It prefers Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
ASUU’s position is captured thus:
“…Our members have reduced their demand of one tranche N220bn of the outstanding revitalization fund by 50 per cent.
“The Union has also agreed that N30bn out of the so far verified arrears of N40bn of the earned academic allowances (EAA) be paid to our members while the balance of N10bn could be spread over the next two tranches…”
One of the them should shift ground so we know who’s being greedy or insensitive.