FG MUST BEGIN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT WITH ASUU IN ORDER TO BRING THE STRIKE TO AN END
The Federal Government’s planned sack of University lecturers and militarization of campuses is clearly aimed at intimidating the lecturers who have been on strike over deplorable working conditions and facilities in the Universities. The plan is not only undemocratic but also despotic. The Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government is clearly showing again that it cannot govern successfully except through force. The same military tactics was employed during the January 2012 mass protest by the government when it unleashed armed forces personnel against peaceful protesters who opposed the unjustified increment in fuel price. Nigeria is indeed speedily descending into a full scale Police State.
The genesis of the lingering crisis started with the failure of the federal government to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU). It must be emphasized that the same party (Peoples Democratic Party), which was in power when the agreement was reached is still ruling while President Jonathan was the Vice-President when the agreement was reached and the President when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2012.
But it was actually the same government that became recalcitrant and insisted that the agreement should be renegotiated and this led to another agreement on November 4, which watered down the 2009 agreement. ASUU correctly reported back to its relevant organs and its NEC agreed that the government should take certain steps that will assure lecturers that the latest agreement would be honoured while there would be no victimization. ASUU therefore requested that government should release N200 billion in the next two weeks and pay the four-month salary arrears owed its members.
If government was genuinely concerned about improving the state of facilities at the universities, it would have met these requests of ASUU so that academic activities can resume. Rather, the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike in line with the directive of President Jonathan gave a marching order to lecturers to resume before December 4, 2013 or be sacked, which is reminiscent of the dark days of the military. It must be understood that apart from failing to implement agreement reached with ASUU, the government had failed to honour agreements reached with several unions, which is responsible for the multiple strikes by different unions in the education sector.
We must remind the federal government that it did not blink an eye before it released N620 billion to 10 private Banks in 2009 and have so far spent about N3trillion to bailout the banking industry despite the fact that it was obvious that the crisis was caused by the corruption of a few Bank chiefs and their collaborating private friends. Besides, the ruling class is running a private, self-centered and selfish agenda at the expense of the interest of all.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) calls on the federal government to immediately withdraw security agents from all Universities and begin to implement the agreement reached with ASUU. The same lecturers had waged several struggles including strikes in the past and at no time had properties been destroyed or union officials forcing its members to participate in strikes. Hence, the claim that the police has been sent to Universities to protect lives and properties is absurd.
SPN strongly feels that if government at all levels employs the same seriousness and energy on revitalizing the education and other sectors as it is putting into using wanton force to intimidate workers and the masses as well as the obvious mismanagement and looting of our common wealth, Nigeria would boast of a better economy and public infrastructure.
SPN hereby calls on President Goodluck Jonathan and Mr. Nyesom Wike to immediately rescind its draconian approach and begin the implementation of the agreement as a step towards massively investing in the educational sector as the only way to resolve the crisis in the sector. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates to begin mobilization of workers for sustained actions against attacks on the lecturers. An attack on ASUU must be seen as an attack on workers everywhere.
Protem National Secretary