As uncertainty envelops the country’s education sector over plans by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embark on another strike, stakeholders in the sector have suggested ways to end the long impasse between the federal government and the union.
The call is coming a few days after the national leadership of ASUU had asked Nigerians to hold the government responsible if the outstanding issues in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 23 December 2020 and issues related to the draft renegotiated agreement of May 2021 is not signed by the end of August.
National president of the union, Comrade Victor Emmanuel Osedeke, had said at a press conference in Ilorin recently; “ASUU hopes authorities at both the federal and state government levels would give the matter the urgent attention it deserves to sustain and improve on the current industrial peace in our universities.”
Reacting to the development, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Abuja, Prof Michael Adikwu, said the crisis was a thorny one that would continue for a long time since there are such indications if other ways are not created to solve the problem.
To avert continuous strikes, he said there is need to make research grants available to lecturers.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP Sunday in Abuja, Prof Adikwu said in American universities, many lecturers depend on grants, adding that in some universities, lecturers get grants from which they put part of their salaries into and use the rest for research.
He noted: “Globally, lecturers are usually not paid very high but there are ways of assuaging their suffering. The other day, a professor of Biological Sciences in Spain was quoted as saying that footballers earn €400 million a month while professors are paid €400,000 for the same period and they are being asked to research and produce vaccine for coronavirus.”
He said most advanced countries have post-doctoral research programmes that bring people from all over the world.
“For instance, Americans have Fulbright Fellowship, the Germans have Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and DAAD, the Japanese have Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the British have their Royal Society Fellowships.”
The former VC stressed that when lecturers have people coming from all over the world to their laboratories, they have no time for strikes.
“They use most of these research fellows to solve their national and academic problems,” he said.
Also, a research assistant at the University of Abuja, Humphrey Ukeaja, said strikes are affecting students and becoming a mockery.
“ASUU strikes have been a lingering issue. They have been on for decades, it is all about negotiations, meetings between those in power and those in academics with a breakdown in communication and agreement.
“The lingering ASUU strike is not a good omen. It affects students which is very sad,” he said.
The president, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Sunday Adedayo Asefon, described the development as worrisome.
Asefon said it also portends great danger to the education sector, national development, research, and security in Nigeria.
He called on the federal government to consider the implication of another industrial strike on our education and national security and find a lasting solution to the contending issues raised by ASUU.