Implement FG/ASUU 2009 Agreement Now | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Implement FG/ASUU 2009 Agreement Now

Posted: Sep 21, 2016 at 7:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


The recent reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) might commence a warning strike come October 2nd would, certainly, open up the healing wounds that incessant strikes had inflicted on the country’s University system if not averted.

In a statement signed by Mr. Ben Ugheoke, Chairman, University of Abuja chapter of ASUU, the union noted that the federal government had failed to hold any meaningful dialogue with it concerning academic system of universities across the country, in line with the agreement the government had with it in 2009.

To be sure, some of the terms of reference of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement include (i) To reverse the decay in the University System, in order to reposition it for greater responsibilities in national development.

(ii) To reverse the brain drain, not only by enhancing the remuneration of academic staff, but also disengaging them from the encumbrances of a unified civil service wage structure.

(iii) To restore Nigerian Universities, through immediate, massive and sustained financial intervention; and

(iv) To ensure genuine university autonomy and academic freedom.

However, available information shows that only 30% of the agreement has so far been implemented after the various agitations and industrial actions embarked upon by the union. ASUU is therefore demanding a full implementation of the agreement in the interest of the Nigerian Universities to avoid a nationwide industrial action.

This newspaper agrees with ASUU that something is fundamentally wrong with the Nation’s university system which must be addressed. It is unfortunate that the Federal government, since it entered into this agreement with the university academic union, seems to have reneged on its part of the agreement.

There is no doubt that the key issues that ASUU is asking government to address are germane. Of course, developing a world class university education system would certainly impact positively on the development of a robust manpower and capacity development and utilisation in the country. The truth is that no nation has developed without a developed education system. Today Nigerian universities rank very low in Africa not to talk of the world. Sadly, no Nigerian University, according to available information, featured on the world best 500 universities list. It is even more embarrassing that among the contending universities in Africa, the best Nigerian university was ranked number 44, trailing behind some universities in Kenya, South Africa and Ghana. These rankings undoubtedly show that Nigerian universities are not a force to reckon with globally and continentally.

Instructively, it was in recognition of the strategic role of education in national development that UNESCO prescribed that about 26 % of a nation’s budget be channelled to education. Regrettably, no Nigerian government has ever considered this profound advice useful.

It is therefore crucial for government to understand that Nigeria cannot attain any reasonable height on the ladder of development if education has not been given its pride of place. It behoves on the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to identify and prioritise education as the basis for his government’s efforts to develop the country in line with its change mantra. To this end, it is absolutely essential for him to make a conscious effort to break this vicious circle of strikes in the nation’s institution of higher learning. To do this, government must avert the ASUU proposed strike by revisiting the FG/ASUU 2009 agreement; this time around with a view to ensuring its holistic implementation.

Indeed, recurrent disruption in the tertiary academic calendar must not be allowed to continue, considering its negative impact. Much as it is essential for government to revisit the ASUU agreement, it our candid view that a strike at this point in time must not be an option. Perhaps, the academic union should develop alternative strategies of engaging government in the interest of the students.