8 December 2012

Nigeria: One Strike Too Many


The members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) recently issued a seven-day notice to the federal government to implement an agreement it reached with the union in 2009 or they would commence a one-week warning strike. SSANU also wants the federal authorities to make provision in the 2013 budget for the payment of the Earned Allowance for its members.

To drive home their protest, SSANU had petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, wherein they had itemized their demands. The highpoint of their demands is that its members would embark on a seven-day warning strike from tomorrow, if the federal government fails to meet their demands. Consequently, if at the end of the warning strike no truce is reached, SSANU may embark on a total strike.

The bickering between the sundry associations in the universities and the government is becoming one too many. Hardly does one academic year pass without the school calendar being disrupted by one strike action or the other.

Both the government and the universities sundry unions no longer take the interest of the students- which of course, is the primary target; seriously. These incessant strike actions have made it impossible for students in these federal and state institutions to graduate at the scheduled duration of their chosen courses.

Well heeled compatriots now prefer taking their children and wards to private universities or send them abroad to acquire university education.

There is no gain saying the fact that the university education in the country, especially those owned by the federal and state governments are in a shamble. Standards have fallen so terribly that certificates obtained from these universities are almost worthless. It is a sad commentary that Nigerian universities are hardly reckoned with even within the African continent.

We are of the opinion that there must be a common ground for the government and these unions in our citadel of learning. Demands by these unions must be reasonable, not egoistic and not a ploy to distract the smooth running of these institutions.

None inclusion of the payment of an allowance to members of SSANU in the 2013 Budget for instance, cannot be a reason why the Union is threatening to embark on a warning strike. Its leaders should rather dialogue with government. Government on its part should respect agreements it reached with these unions. After all, government is a continuum.

It is time all that are concerned with the provision of quality education at the tertiary level took their responsibilities seriously. We can no longer fold our hands and watch the future of young Nigerians being messed up.

From either side of the divide, we demand that the future of these young people should be of utmost concern. The nation is already heavily weighed down by so many crises and we cannot afford another strike under any guise.

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