The President of the Colleges of Education Academic staff union(COEASU), Smart Olugbeko has released a statement faulting Federal government’s litigation against the Academic staff union of universities, ASUU over its seven months long strike.
COEASU said the move is counterproductive and asked the Federal government to join the COE teachers in the suit.
As our ivory towers responsible for the training of our youths, the role of higher education in nation building, industrialisation and professional productivity cannot be undermined.
Thus, ASUU deserves more respect and the highest consideration possible from government.
The negotiations with ASUU and other Unions in the education sector ought to be approached with sincerity, good faith and honest commitment to the fulfilment of the gains that may thereby arise from collective bargaining.
For as much as the FG has failed to approach the demands of ASUU and other Unions with this coveted and appropriate disposition, the latest resort to litigation smacks of insensitivity and draconian intentions. It presupposes that government is just interested in making the members of the Union keep working despite unhealed wounds caused by serial unfulfilled agreements.
It is in the collective interest of all stakeholders including government and the entire Nigerian public for the FG to ensure that the struggles of unions in tertiary institutions (ASUU, COEASU, ASUP, etc.) this time, having lingered for so long, do not fail to produce tangible results that would reposition the tertiary education sector for lasting industrial peace and uninterrupted academic calendar for a very long time.
Unless the issues are resolved and the agitations are laid to rest through collective bargaining characterised by mutual respect and sincerity on the part of government, it would be tantamount to merely postponing the evil day. It is unbelievable that Government decided to be playing the ostrich with their unrepentant nature of blatant disdain for tertiary education in Nigeria.
A sensitive and responsive government in other climes would not have allowed any of her tertiary institutions shut down for any reason in the first instance not to talk of shutting down the ivory tower for 7 months without a pragmatic approach of resolving the quagmire.
COEASU notes with dismay the reckless abandonment of tertiary education in Nigeria by the FG and with the latest ploy of using the court to buy time with a calculated attempt to force ASUU to return to the classrooms despite the fact that there are no concrete attempts made to address their demands.
The FG has made matters worse by enforcing the no-work-no-pay rule which is incongruent to the higher education system because the academics’ duties go beyond teaching and include research, community service and mentorship, which are ceaseless roles played even during the boycott of teaching which the strike is all about.
There is an urgent need for Nigerian government to cut down reckless public spending and reduce the outrageous bogus cost of governance for the benefit of public education which is the right of the citizens.
We call on the Federal Government to suspend the no-work-no-pay rule and withdraw its suit against ASUU at the National Industrial Court. Government should return to the negotiation table with ASUU, but more meaningfully with honest intentions to address the issues.
Government should be reminded that our decision (COEASU) to suspend our strike for sixty days was because of the intervention by prominent stakeholders including our Trustees and the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who gave assurances that government would resolve all the issues within a short time. The sixty days ‘cooling-off period’ remains twenty days and government has not shown any seriousness in meeting the demands of our Union; hence, government should be ready to take us to court too as our strike action this time will be total and indefinite.
Government should stop projecting the demands of the Unions within the narrow-bound and blackmailing precincts of personal welfare of members but locate them within the larger context of the place of quality education in addressing the myriads of challenges confronting the country.
By so doing, government would be able to accord the issues in contention with deserved priority and urgency. FG must swallow its pride and address issues instead of rushing to court to further extend the already prolonged strike by perpetually keeping the children of the masses out of the classrooms.