On November 5, 2018, while some unlucky student was fighting for the last seat in the Keke so he could get to school early, the Academic Staff Union of Universities began an indefinite strike.
The reason? Well, according to ASUU, the Federal Government has been doing them wayo for a minute.
The men in Abuja have refused to approve better salaries or pay agreed allowances for lecturers in public universities.
Lowkey, this strike is just a rebirth of one that supposedly ended in September 2017.
When he was calling the lecturers to arms, The National President of the Union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said something along the lines that the lecturers will not resume until “government fully implements all outstanding issues as contained in the MOA of 2017, and concludes the renegotiation of the 2009 agreements.”
So, what is this MOA?
It’s simply a memorandum–an agreement with terms that the FG agreed to fulfil in the coming future.
Apparently, a day in real life is equivalent to 10 years in Aso Rock.
Think of the Memorandum as a final attempt to ensure some decorum, like when the Barbers Association agrees on prices for haircuts and makes all the barbers paste it on their mirrors. Why would that be necessary, you ask?
Well, the FG and ASUU have been at it for quite a while. In the last 19 years, ASUU has had to pull out the lecturers for a cumulative 40 months.
40 months equals three years and four months. That’s six months less than a presidential term. That’s six months less than it should take to get a Bachelor’s Degree.
What it means is that, if you spent four years in a Nigerian University, odds are you were out of school for an average of eight months.
That’s one month less than it takes to make a baby, which then explains a lot of things.
It’s created a very big problem for ASUU. Everyone knows that thunder hardly strikes in the same place but ASUU has been doing it for decades.
So when the issue of gaps in our academic calendars comes up, the blame mostly goes in one direction – The Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities aka ‘ASUU’ aka “Super Strikers” aka “Sango’s Children” aka… the names go on.
The truth though is that most of these strikes happen over money.
That’s right – we all have the same problems, even when you’re an association with hundreds of members in the 60s and 70s.
For years, ASUU has maintained education deserves a larger chunk of the budget than it gets. And they’re right.
Over 60% of Nigeria’s population is aged below 25 i.e people who should be getting an education.
Yet, only a measly 7% of the 2018 budget was allocated for education at all levels.
For context, the United Nations recommends that all countries allocate 26% of their national budgets to education.
But Naija no dey ever hear word.
Remember something about the ‘renegotiation of the 2009 agreements’?
Well, every time ASUU goes on strike, the FG pulls out its mediators, holds several meetings at midnight with the lecturers, agrees to a new set of terms.
The strike gets called off.
And everyone moves on.
Till they remember nothing has changed.
It’s a vicious cycle. While the rest of the country resumes work or school today, undergraduates around the country will have their lives on hold for the 63rd day running.
Despite seven meetings, ASUU and the FG have failed to reach an agreement on a way forward.
After a meeting at the end of December 2018, ASUU’s Oga at the Top dropped the names of 11 universities where lecturers are underpaid’.
He also said “the government kept saying they were working on it. If they pay that money, we will have something to take back to our members.”
So, yes, money is the problem. But odds are if you asked the FG, you’d get one response…
It’s now two months and counting since students around the country were made to start their Christmas holidays early, or take quick vacations to bae’s house.
You’ve heard all the regular bits of advice by now; learn a trade, read some books, travel (if you have dollars), pick up a hobby, and put your time to good use.
Either way, negotiations are ongoing. ASUU and the FG have scheduled another meeting for Monday, January 7.
Let’s hope the money flows and the halls can be filled again.
Whatever happens, we’ll let you know.
You can bet on it.