The ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA), Yiaga Africa and others have called for a cut in salaries of federal lawmakers and political appointees to fund education.
Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, alongside others made the call in Abuja yesterday at a media conference.
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She said: “We need to get out priorities right, one of which is to cut down from the salaries and other allowances in the National Assembly and that of other (political) appointees.
“It’s disheartening that the public universities that produced the present crop of leaders and the middle manpower being currently enjoyed in the country are locked due to unresolved labour dispute between the lecturers and other unions, and the federal government.”
According to her, although ASUU has embarked on numerous strikes since the late 1980s, the frequency of the strikes has increased in the last two decades.
She said that the previous strike action was in 2020, lasting for nine months, a period equivalent to a whole academic session and also from 1999 when Nigeria transitioned to democracy, to 2020, university teachers have gone on nationwide strikes 16 times, covering 51 months.
“This excludes strike actions declared by local branches of ASUU over local disputes, some of them lasting several months. The current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities began on the 14th of February 2022.
“Initially, the industrial action was a limited warning strike scheduled to last four weeks. The strike action was extended for two months following the federal government’s inaction. This was further extended on the 14th of May 2022 for another twelve weeks. Following this extension, the strike might last up to five months if no urgent action is taken to address the issues in contention.”
She noted that apart from ASUU, three other university-based unions are currently on strike for similar demands, including the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
She lamented that with this, the entire public university system has been practically shut down.
Obi said, “While we recognise the attempts of the Federal Government to negotiate with ASUU to reach amicable terms, it is pertinent to highlight that Nigerian student in public tertiary institutions, which constitute most of the students in Nigeria and their parents, have continued to bear the brunt of the continuous strike.”
She therefore urged the Federal Government to show genuine commitment to improving the quality of education in Nigeria by promptly implementing the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA).
She also asked the government to declare a state of emergency on education to rebuild it and ensure that the children of the poor get quality education.
National Moderator, CSACEFA, Sale Abdullahi; Olaniyan Sanusi of Yiaga Africa; and others also called for collective efforts to end the ongoing ASUU strike in the interest of the nation’s education and national development.