The strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which has paralysed almost all public universities in the country, has entered its 200th day.
Students and parents, who lamented the effects of the industrial action in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Thursday, condemned the failure of the Federal Government and the union to resolve the crisis and reopen the universities.
ASUU had in February declared a month-strike following the failure of the government to meet its demands, including the payment of earned allowances, payment of revitalisation funds to universities, the release of the white paper reports of visitation panels, implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of workers in the ivory towers and the renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN 2009 allowance.
Prior to the current strike, the university lecturers had in 2020 embarked on a nine-month industrial action, which they suspended on December 24 of that year.
Although ASUU declared a month strike on February 14 and had been rolling it over after the expiration of each declaration, its National Executive Council after its meeting in Abuja on August 29, said its industrial action would henceforth be “comprehensive, total and indefinite,” effective from 12am on Monday.
Various talks between the union and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, yielded no result. Also, ASUU leaders walked out of a meeting with the government on August 16, alleging that no offer was made to them.
But the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in an interview with journalists, said university lecturers insisted that they should be paid for the period they did not work, a request he said the government was not ready to grant.
The Public Relations Officer of the National Parent-Teachers Association, Ademola Ekundayo, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, lamented that both the government and ASUU allowed the strike to enter its 200th day.
He lamented that parents and their children in the universities were the ones suffering. Ekundayo stated, “ASUU members will still collect their salaries for the work they didn’t even do likewise the Federal Government has nothing to lose as their (government officials) children are in private universities.”
A student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Faith Alofe, disclosed that the strike had affected his programmes.
He stated, “The ASUU strike action is one that is very depressing and time-wasting. As a campus journalist, I have applied to international organisations but my application was turned down because I don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree.
“I should be writing my final exams and preparing to leave undergraduate studies but here we are with the strike action drawing us back. I do not like to think about the ASUU strike at all because it is very depressing just thinking about the strike and I hope that both the Federal Government and ASUU will find a common ground and stop leaving students to suffer the end result of the strike.”
On his part, the South-West Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Zone Dr, Adegboye Olatunji, said it was sad that the meetings between ASUU and the government did not produce any positive results.
According to him, the government does not believe that education is the future of the country.