ASUU Strike Latest: Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Threatens Mass Demonstration

Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has drummed support for the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the agreement reached with the staff union two years ago.

The group blamed the disruption of the academic calendar on government insincerity and negligence of the welfare of staff and student warning that should government refuse to meet the demands of the striking workers, it would not hesitate to mobilise thousands of Nigerian students and youth on mass demonstrations and protests in solidarity with striking education workers.

The group, in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Hassan Soweto urged government to immediately commence implementation of the agreement reached with all the staff unions so that students could go back to school.

It further called on members of ASUU to remain steadfast in the strike urging them not to make it a sit-at-home strike alone, but rather turn the strike into a popular struggle for free education by organising public activities like symposia, rallies, mass protests and demonstrations.

“We are convinced that the demands of ASUU, if met, will help in repositioning the already ailing university system. The demands include adequate funding of the university system, better condition of service, genuine autonomy and academic freedom.

“We would recall that ASUU had embarked on a one-week warning strike (September 26 - October 3 2011) and afterwards gave the Federal Government the grace of two months to implement the core components of the agreement it had willingly signed with the staff union in 2009 following a four month-strike action.

“The continuous failure of government to fulfil this agreement is a clear indication of government’s insincerity and non-committal attitude to the development of the education sector.

“If the demand for proper funding is met, it would create enabling environment to be provided for lecturers and non-teaching staff to work properly and guarantee condition that is conducive for learning for students. A properly funded tertiary education will make provision for enough students’ hostels, well equipped laboratories and classrooms, recreational centres, well-stock library and other basic facilities.

“It would stem the high incidence of brain drain in universities, which have seen many academics leaving Nigeria for greener pasture abroad because of poor remuneration, working conditions and grants for research work. This explains why the teaching staff is grossly inadequate in our universities,” the group stated.

It called on Nigerian students, youths, parents and workers to support the striking education workers and compel the federal government to implement all the agreements, and reject outrightly the commercialisation and privatisation of public education.