Buhari should hand over power to ASUU

Buhari should hand over power to ASUU

Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:14 am


President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari: Urged to end the menace by ASUU

 John Akpenvwe

When people complain that the system is under-funded, we understand the system is under-funded, but there is so much money lying in the ETF (now TETFUND) that a lot of beneficiaries are not able to access in billions. This is mainly because the beneficiaries are not able to account for what they have collected earlier as a basis for accessing subsequent allocations.” – Prof Mahmood Yakubu in 2009

 The power tussle between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities has now attained a denouement. It is either President Muhammadu Buhari hands over power to ASUU or proves that he is the one popularly elected to govern this country. The FG has pandered enough to the wimps and caprices of ASUU. How can only one union hold the entire country to ransom every now and then? How can one union always demand salary payment for embarking on a strike for many months and get paid by the government? How can ASUU obtain agreements under threats of strike, virtually ‘at gunpoint’ and insist the government must honour such agreements? It is high time the Federal Government repudiated all the so-called medley of agreements under nebulous titles. In order to end the menace by ASUU, who prefers to earn salaries for not working and look the other way as government’s funds into varsities are largely mismanaged, the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly may consider the possibility of handing over public universities to private hands.

In 1994, ASUU went on strike for six months. Five months in 1995. Seven months in 1996. Five months in 1998. Two months in 2001. Three months in 2002. Six months in 2003. Two weeks in 2005.Three months in 2007. Four months in 2009. And virtually every year since 2010. It got salaries for all the periods of the strike


ASUU cannot continue to have its cake and eat it. ASUU is very much aware of Section 43 of Trade Dispute Act which provides that: “(1)… (a) where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or  other remuneration for the period of the strike…” How can the union who portrays itself a saint always asking for salaries for the period of strike in contravention of the provision of the law? Buhari can break the law of the land when it is in the interest of ASUU! The same union will parrot adherence to federal principles. However, when it comes to ASUU’s interest, federalism should be discarded and state universities who have no issues with their employers are corralled into joining an industrial dispute with a central government!

Prof Victor Osodeke: Demands salaries in contravention of s.43 of Trade Dispute Act.

ASUU has overplayed its hand and has lost public confidence. Now, parents want their wards to complete their education within a stipulated time even though they understand the challenges confronting the education sector- indeed all the sectors of the economy. Besides, it is widely acknowledged that a large chunk of what students are taught has no utilitarian or practical applications outside the varsity system. So, parents are more or less concerned about having their children complete their education in a record time and move to work places to begin the second level of their education. This much Nigerian employers of labour will confirm.


ASUU procured the so-called agreements under threats of strike, ‘at gunpoint’. FG should repudiate them. To end the ASUU menace, the national and state legislatures may kick-start the process of handing over public universities to private hands

Perhaps, a question should be posed in passing. If the inability of an engineering graduate to read correctly measurements on a verniercaliper or micrometer screw gauge can be attributed, plausibly, to inadequate facilities, how do we explain a situation where a university graduate of English and related disciplines can hardly write an application letter let alone produce an essay that will not make Shakespeare turn in his grave or where a Political Science graduate does not know the meaning of plebiscite? Is this the problem of infrastructure or lecturers themselves? And if our dons insist it’s the problem of infrastructure, how come such students graduate with outstanding grades? Sex-for-marks or brown envelopes?!

It is always easy for ASUU to see the speck in government’s eye while ignoring the massive log in its own eye. There are innumerable proven cases where a lecturer would declare to a student that ‘you will not graduate’ and the student would not graduate until the gods of the lecturer are appeased.  Such is the enormous power varsity lecturers now wield over their students, which makes one wonder whether Nigerian varsities are not actually concentration camps.Is there any reasonable parent that will support a union that has made industrial action a pastime? The statistics is mind-boggling. You can only count one consecutive two years in nearly 30 years that ASUU did not go on strike. In 1994, the union went on strike for 6 months. In 1995, it was 5 months. It downed tools for 7 months in 1996. It was 5 months in 1998, 2 months in 2001, 3 months in 2002 and 6 months in 2003. It went on strike for 2 weeks in 2005, 3 months in 2007 and 4 months in 2009. It has been a yearly ritual since 2010. And the drumbeat of strike is still on! Why not? ASUU members collect salaries during the period of those strikes, hence government is funding the ASUU strikes.

Ahmed Lawan, Senate President: Legislatures urged to hand over varsities to private hands

ASUU yesterday, ASUU today and ASUU tomorrow, as if ASUU is the only union in the country. Other unions in the education sector and other sectors of the economy, including conservation unions of doctors, nurses, judiciary workers, etc. now follow in the footsteps of ASUU. This has been the pattern since 90s when ASUU turned strike into a weapon for negotiating salary increment. ASUU usually claims that government officials have their wards abroad and that this is the reason why they treat the education sector with disdain. But I know many of my previous colleagues in ASUU that equally have their children abroad and in private schools in Nigeria. Even when the system was better in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and we got virtually what we wanted as lecturers, many politicians still sent their children abroad for tertiary education.

Anytime ASUU is embarking on a strike for purposes of pocket enhancement, it usually pushes to public domain ‘rot in the education sector’ as a smokescreen. If government were to sit every month to negotiate salaries with ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NAAT, all in the universities, and then move to polytechnics to conduct the same negotiations with the different workers’ unions, then to colleges of education, down to primary schools, I suppose there will be no time for any other business for government.

At his inaugural lecture in 2009 at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Prof Munir Ogunsanwo took umbrage at his union – ASUU: “The concept of unified salary structure for members of the academic staff is not only retrogressive but archaic and encourages indolence. Under this system, a hardworking, industrious and innovative academic staff would have to seek motivation elsewhere as there is no difference between his ‘take-home’ pay and that of a lazy colleague who will not accept any administrative responsibility but rather indulges in attending to his lectures a week or two before the commencement of an examination. With the advent of technology in this modern age, it is regrettable that ASUU has not been able to formulate an enduring alternative to strike as a weapon for industrial disputes. The union cannot claim the dearth of expertise in industrial psychology, sociology, law or crisis management, who should be able to synthesize an efficient alternative to strike actions which have done more damage to the public image of ASUU as a union of academics who are never contended but rather are ready to sacrifice the future of their students for the improvement of their personal emoluments.

Anytime ASUU is embarking on a strike for purposes of pocket enhancement, it usually pushes to public domain ‘rot in the education sector’ as a smokescreen. Government pays salaries of ASUU members for the past strikes, hence is guilty of encouraging more strikes


“I sincerely hope that the union would put a stop to this line of action which has always succeeded in inflicting unwarranted pains on parents and students otherwise Mr. Vice-Chancellor Sir, just like Dr. Matin Luther King Jnr., I also have a dream that one day the university teachers shall step out as usual on a strike and the fee-paying students, who are the major stakeholders in the system, shall ask them never to return. Furthermore, the local chapter of the union should, as a matter of urgency, begin a process of self-sanitization. A union which claims to be at the vanguard of demand for qualitative university education cannot continue to shield academic ‘dead-woods’ who remain in the system for decades without self-improvement.”

I remember discussing the lecture with Dr Kenneth Okoh, who said the prediction would one day come to pass if ASUU persisted in strike actions. When the media became awash with the news of students threatening to beat up lecturers in January this year, then one remembered the 2009 prediction! A word should suffice for the wise.


*Dr John Akpenvwe writes from Kubwa, Abuja.










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