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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

2023: Tinubu campaigns in Yobe, says his APC government will end incessant ASUU strike

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has vowed to prevent incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) if he is elected.

The former Lagos state governor also promised to provide loans for university students.

Tinubu made these promises at the APC presidential campaign rally in Damaturu, Yobe State, on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

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He pledged to make education more stable.

The former Lagos State governor said he would provide agro credit facilities and make the Northeast region an export zone.

He said: “I will extend the credit facilities to university students as loans. I will make our education system, especially university education, more stable by dealing with the problem of ASUU strikes.

“There will be no more strikes in our universities.”

Recall that Nigerian university students have been forced out of the classroom for more than four years due to the frequent strikes embarked upon by the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) since the return of democracy to the country in 1999.

The frequent and prolonged industrial actions by ASUU have been a source of concern to most students of public universities in the country, their parents and other stakeholders.

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For decades, Nigerian public universities have been encountering challenges of poor funding, inadequate infrastructure, obsolete educational system, dilapidated structures and equipment, brain drain and successive governments have not been able to proffer solutions to these problems.

ASUU, a trade union formed in 1978 to represent the interests of academic staff in all of the federal and state universities in the country, whose objectives include regulation of relations between academic staff and employers, has always been at loggerheads with the government.

Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, undergraduates in universities across the country have lost at least 13 months from their educational calendar owing to the recurring strikes by ASUU.

Educationists say this explains why the products of Nigerian public universities are half-baked and certificates obtained from Nigerian universities are not rated high outside the shores of the country.

The first ASUU strike under the Buhari administration began on August 17, 2017 after the government defaulted on the MOU it had signed with the union. Out of the N1.3trn requested by ASUU, only N200bn was paid, which caused the association to embark on a one-week warning strike in November 2016 to press for their funds.

The strike ended in September 2017. The second ASUU strike started on November 4, 2018, which lasted till February 7, 2019, making it a total of 95 days. This was also as a result of the outstanding issues between the federal government and ASUU as regards the 2009 agreement and the MoU of 2013.

The third ASUU strike commenced on March 23, 2020. The indefinite strike started the same week President Muhammadu Buhari imposed a lockdown on the country due to the then ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The strike lasted for nine months. The latest ongoing strike by ASUU began on February 14, 2022, in which it is demanding better conditions of service as contained in the agreement it reached with government in 2009.

The union had argued that its cause of action followed the failure of the government to implement the 2019 MoA which both parties signed including the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform for the payment of salaries and allowances, the release of Earned Academic Allowances for lecturers, improved welfare and academic autonomy, among others.

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