The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has been basking in what it perceives as a legal victory over the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The National Industrial Court of Nigeria’s ruling in favour of the government’s “no-work-no-pay” policy has led to a chilling effect on ASUU’s activism for better funding and conditions in Nigerian universities.
While the government celebrates, it conveniently ignores its own commitments, such as a promised 23% salary increase for university workers. This has led to a growing sense of restiveness among university staff, who feel their concerns are being sidelined. The government’s stance has also been met with public apathy, as many believe ASUU’s demands for increased funding are unnecessary.
This legal “victory” comes at a time of administrative changes within the government, providing a convenient excuse for inaction. Meanwhile, ASUU argues that the government’s reluctance to adequately fund university education places an unfair financial burden on parents, potentially excluding many from higher education.
ASUU has been open to negotiation, even renegotiating terms with a committee led by Professor Nimi Briggs on behalf of the FGN. However, the government has disregarded these recommendations, maintaining a deceitful silence on the issues raised by ASUU and other university-based unions.
The implications of this are far-reaching. The cost of university education is set to skyrocket, with fees potentially tripling or quadrupling. While the government is introducing student loans, it’s unclear how this will benefit the majority of students who fall under the low-income category.
The situation is dire. With rising fees, we risk creating a generation of young people who are both jobless and uneducated, exacerbating the country’s existing security issues. The government must act swiftly to address these concerns. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should heed ASUU’s calls for action, starting with the release of withheld salaries as a gesture of goodwill.
The future of Nigeria’s university education hangs in the balance, and the government must act now to secure a brighter future for the nation.
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