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Author Topic: ASUU Strike: Lawyer Links Strike To Government’s Lack Of Integrity  (Read 90 times)

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Offline LAVILA<Jp>

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The lingering strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Nigeria has been linked to the lack of integrity on the part of the Nigerian government.

A legal practitioner, Mr. Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, stressed that the fact that the Federal Government waited for the union to embark on an industrial action before it could consider part implementation of the agreement reached in 2009, was a sign of insincerity.

Mr. Olu-Adegboruwa insisted that the government was not in a moral position to issue a ‘Back to Class’ ultimatum, ordering lecturers to resume duties or face sanctions.

“The government should not, from a moral deficit angle, be in a position to issue an ultimatum for people to resume or be sacked. They have not kept their part of the agreement,” he stressed on a Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

The lawyer also noted that the strike should not have been if the government had tackled the issue before the strike was called, describing it as a sign of poor method of resolution.

“Immediately the government senses that there are problems in some sectors of the economy, for the interest of the governed, it should activate a method for resolution before the issue degenerates to the option of an industrial action. You don’t get to the last resort before you listen to the people. It is not a good thing in the part of government,

However, Mr. Olu-Adegboruwa also emphasised that the union should not have adopted a strike to enforce an agreement, if they had ensured that the agreement was enforceable on its own.

“For ASUU to have signed that agreement there should be enough clauses that should have protected and guaranteed its enforcement.

“An agreement should enforce itself. Lawyers should be involved on both sides to ensure that the agreement is enforceable on its own without option of a strike.

“ASUU lawyers should advise them on the need to know the status of any agreement that they are signing. This is necessary to forestall a repeat of an industrial action,” he explained.

The legal practitioner called on ASUU and the government to show sincerity by finding a way of enforcing the agreement without affecting the ultimate casualty – Students.

“I accept that in collective bargaining, strike is an option for enforcement but when you look at the end result, the greatest casualties of this are the parents and the students.

“It is time for lectures, students and the government to look at ensuring that when an occasion like this occurs students will not lose anything.

“There should be enough mechanism now as a sacrifice on the part of ASUU to ensure that the five months are taken care of in terms of extended lectures. It should not be a reason to extend the academic session,” he argued.

Part of the striking lecturers’ ‘new demand’ is that the Attorney General should sign the agreement on behalf of the government but Mr. Olu-Adegboruwa also pointed out that the request would not have been necessary if the government had showed integrity in meeting the agreement reached in 2009.

The agreements

Efforts to resolve the issues in Nigeria’s education sector began in December 14, 2006, when the then Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, inaugurated on behalf of the Federal Government, a negotiating committee headed by Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, to find a permanent solution to the issues in the educational system.

Five major issues were slated for resolution and discussion – funding, ACAREF (Academic Reform), University autonomy, condition of service of lecturers and university staff generally.

It was agreed that the Federal Government, States, private sector, the Educational Task Fund, the Petroleum Development Task Fund and alumni associations be involved in funding of public universities to enable the institutions get the necessary infrastructures in order to meet international standards.

A plan to spend 1.5 trillion Naira with a three-year rolling module - 2009-2011- was agreed on.

It was also agreed that 26 per cent of the annual budget should be spent on education.

On the issue of condition of service, the lecturers retirement age was also looked into and the retirement age was extended to 70 years.

Since then, the only aspect of the agreement that has been fully implemented is the increasing the retirement age of lecturers, a development that has led to continuous dwindling of education standard in Nigeria.

During the proposal of Nigeria’s 2013 budget, it was discovered that only 8.67 per cent of the proposed total budget of 4.92 trillion  Naira (about 31.5 billion dollars) was allocated to education, an amount that falls far below the UNESCO recommended allocation of 26 per cent.

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