• Gbemileke Babatunde

What Every Student Should Know About the Recently Suspended ASUU Strike

When you mention the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, the next word which almost always comes to mind is strike. Such has been the backwardness of ASUU over the years that instead of being known for protecting the best interests of students, the union has become infamous for repeated strike actions which have needlessly prolonged the academic journey of several students.

On December 23, ASUU announced that it had “conditionally” suspended its 9-month strike – the longest strike action in Nigeria since 1999. The union’s indefinite strike had started in March last year in protest against the non-payment of salaries to lecturers who rejected the Federal Government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS). In fact, the union recently sanctioned 240 lecturers for enrolling on IPPIS.

Following the suspension of the ASUU strike, it is imperative that students are fully aware of the facts on the issue and what they can expect going forward. Whether you are a fresher, finalist or still seeking admission, here are things you should know about the recently suspended ASUU strike.

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The Suspension is Conditional

ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi had told journalists in a media briefing in Abuja that the union’s strike was suspended subject to the implementation of agreements reached with the federal government by the union between January and March this year.

According to Ogunyemi, the failure of the federal government to fulfil its part of the deal and pay withheld salaries of lecturers within the stipulated period would force the union to embark on a fresh industrial action.

The time frame is a bit elastic. There are some items that are supposed to be addressed in January. There are some others that will drag till March or thereabout. This time around, we have agreed to review the status of the implementation by February. That is our mechanism for monitoring. This was not there in some of our previous agreements.

Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President

ASUU has been officially exempted from the IPPIS, with the government set to check the suitability of the union’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment system.

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No Resumption Date Announced Yet

While ASUU hinted at the possibility of students resuming this January, there has not been any official announcement on the specific resumption date for students.

It is still under probability if students will be allowed to return to school this month, as ASUU has not come out to give any definitive comment on the matter. However, the union has stated that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the reopening of the schools and resumption of students is fully at the behest of the federal government and Senate of each university.

Going by this, resumption may be further delayed for current and incoming students, with new COVID-19 cases still being recorded daily across the country reinforcing the need for prevention measures such as social distancing, making it nearly impossible for the government and school authorities to give the go-ahead for thousands of students to resume academic activities.

The risk of a full-blown COVID-19 spread in universities is one that the FG and even lecturers would be unwilling to take.

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Only Public Universities are Affected

Students should know that the ASUU strike only affects public (federal or state) universities under the aegis of the union. The strike does not in any way disrupt the academic activities of private universities, polytechnics or colleges of education.

Schools under ASUU such as the University of Ibadan observed the strike action for the entire duration it lasted. Meanwhile, private universities and polytechnics have progressed with their usual course of studies, amid adjustments to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

It is important that students seeking admission are aware of this so that they can pursue admission to other higher institutions if they are not ready to wait until schools affected by the ASUU strike are able to start admitting new students.

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