ASUU VERSUS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Where Two Elephants Fight... — By Ogo-Oluwa Adelakun - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Sun. Jun 16th, 2024
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Just like a dream, Nigerians basked in the euphoria of having artistes like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Tiwa Savage and more win big at the 63rd edition of the renowned Grammy Award ceremony.

For many, this dream which finally became reality was the much anticipated drycleaning the brand “Nigeria” needed.

This, of course is because for a very long time, country people had become accustomed to news about the country on the international scene being at best, bad and at worst, horrifying.

However, no matter how sweet one’s dream or sleep is, one must eventually wake up to face the reality of the current times, one of which is that another strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is currently giving us a hard and uncomfortable gaze in the face.

After going on a nine-month strike in 2020, renewed echoes of another faceoff between ASUU and the federal government seems to be brewing due to allegations of non-payment of salaries and alleged victimisation of its members.

These little drops of complaints gradually building another wave of strike, is despite federal government’s agreement with ASUU’s condition to pay the outstanding salaries being owed to its members through its University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) software before suspending the previous strike on December 24, 2020.

In very simple terms, ASUU claims the federal government has flouted the agreement. This is as the chairman, University of Ibadan branch of ASUU, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, in a statement, asked Nigerians to blame the Federal Government if universities are shut down again.

Those who find ASUU’s demand ridiculous, wonder how on God’s green earth members of the union want to get paid for months where they did not do their jobs. These Nigerians even find it appalling to say the least, that  those at the helm of affairs agreed to such demand. I mean, why should a union that offered no value want to get paid for basically striking in the name of fighting for rights ? Why should you eat when you have not worked?
Meanwhile, in some quaters, people wonder how members of the union were able to feed through the genesis of the global pandemic that crippled the economy without getting any pay.

The thought here is that their absence from work was due to legitimate concerns they felt the need to address with the Nigerian leadership and not a case of truancy as some have suggested, but is this a good counterpoint?

Two sides of one coin trapped in what looks like a vicious cycle being looped. They have disagreements and debate all they want at the expense of the Nigerian students who are always at their mercy. Many concerned Nigerians feel that these two elephants who seem to always fight, do not care about the plights of the grass suffering endlessly in these regurgitated battles.

Citizens who have become frustratingly bored at what could be easily called “predictable deja vu” think it is indeed evident that in order for these strikes to be a thing of the past, the government should reach an agreement with ASUU to pay all outstanding salaries and also grant it autonomy to chart its own course for the sake of students. While those who oppose this school of thought feel that doing such may alienate children of the average citizen from attending tertiary Institutions, others think doing this solves the habit of blaming inactivity on the federal government and gives every university the chance to run its affairs how it deems fit. How do we hope to produce students who can compete in a global market when their time for learning is almost never guaranteed.

Whether a strike happens as threatened or not, it is clear that the ASUU versus federal government movie is one Nigerians have had enough of.

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