One Year After ASUU Called Off Its Strike, What Next?

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The Nation has written on one year after ASUU called its strike.

One Year After ASUU Called Off Its Strike

It will be one year in a couple of days since the umbrella body of teachers in Nigerian public universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), called off a nine-month-long industrial action after signing a fresh pact with the Federal government. The strike, which was among the most drawn out in the history of the labour body, was shelved on 23rd December, 2020 after ASUU signed a Memorandum of Action (MoA) with government on implementation of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both parties that was renegotiated in May 2020. One year after truce was called, the understanding has all but fallen apart and teachers have served repeated notices of returning to the trenches. Effectively, the storm is regathering and threatening another breakout.

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On 14th November, ASUU issued a three-week ultimatum to government to do the needful or face another indefinite strike. Upon that ultimatum, a flurry of moves including reassurances by government on keeping faith with the extant agreement left labour in suspended motion. Last week, the teachers were back across many zones of the country warning they were at the end of their patience. In a statement by the union in Awka, Anambra State, it warned that once it embarks on another strike, the action would not be suspended until all terms of the agreement are implemented. “We once again alert Nigerians, that unless the Federal Government strives to sincerely resolve the issues, there will be no rest for us all. There will be no more MoUs or MoAs. When the macabre dance begins, there will be no stopping it until everything is fully implemented,” the Owerri zonal coordinator, Uzo Onyebinama, said. In Bauchi zone, the zonal coordinator who was represented by Professor Nanmwa Voncir said government’s dithering had been tolerated enough. “We are, once again, pained to bring these issues to public domain because more than a year after suspending the 2020 strike, little progress has been made towards implementation…Should we embark on strike, know that we are forced and government should be held responsible and accountable,” he stated. The same sentiment was simultaneously relayed through many other zones of the union across the country.

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When ASUU served its three-week ultimatum in November, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said it would not need to do as threatened because government was diligently attending to the terms of the agreement it had with the union. Now it is more than four weeks on, and indications are that the issues remain unresolved and progress is not even being made towards resolution. It would be an utterly silly strategy to wait until another strike breaks out before ratcheting up moves to rein in the action on the basis of an agreement previously reached with implementation timelines indicated. A stitch in time saves nine.