…..countless lives hindered since 1999
Following the announcement of a 4-week warning strike by Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday, February 14, 2022, few would have expected it to morph into a 6-month industrial action.
According to ASUU, FG’s refusal to meet its demands has forced its hands in embarking on a strike. The striking lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2-week ultimatum to Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu to bring an end to the strike, it still persists.
But a quick look in time will show that Nigeria is no stranger to ASUU strikes, having experienced 17 industrial actions from 1999 to date, spanning 4 administrations. Ranging from a short 3-day warning strike to the gobsmacking 270-day strike in 2022.
Below is a report by The Quest Times on the 17 different ASUU strikes since 1999:
Obasanjo/Atiku Administration (1999-2007)
1. 1999 – 5 months ( 150 days)
Following the exit of the strongmen in Khaki, Nigerians ushered in democracy and a government that promised to be people-oriented. But the honeymoon didn’t last. Just a few months after the Obasanjo-Atiku administration was sworn-in, ASUU proceeded on a nationwide strike that lasted five months.
2. 2001 – 3 months (90days)
In 2001, ASUU declared another strike following the sack of 49 lecturers by the University of Ilorin. The industrial action was aggravated when the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo described Nigeria’s university lecturers as “a bunch of lazy and ungrateful people.”
3. 2002 – 2 weeks (14 days)
Failure of the Obasanjo administration to implement an agreement reached during the previous strike saw ASUU embark on another strike on Sunday, December 29, 2002, which was called off after 2 weeks.
4. 2003 – 6 months (180 days)
Starting to become an annual ritual, In 2003, ASUU embarked on another industrial action due to the non-implementation of previous agreements, forcing Nigerian university undergraduates to stay at home again for another six months.
5. 2005 – 2 weeks (14 days)
Nigerian university students again experienced another disruption in their academic calendars as ASUU embarked on another industrial action. According to the Guardian, the lecturers went on strike for just two weeks.
6. 2006 – 1 week (7 days)
In April 2006, academic activities were brought to a screeching halt in all public universities across the country when ASUU declared a 3-day warning strike. It eventually lasted for one week.
7. 2007 – 3 months (90 days)
The 2006 industrial action was followed by another on March 26, 2007. The strike lasted for three months. The reasons for the strike were pretty much the same reasons for the previous strike–non-implementation of the agreement reached with FG.
Yar’Adua/Jonathan administration (2007-2010)
8. 2008 – 1 week (7 days)
ASUU embarked on a 1-week strike in a bid to press home its demands for an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of 49 lecturers who were dismissed at the University of Ilorin.
9. 2009 – 4 months (120 days)
In 2009, lecturers in public universities across the country embarked on an industrial action that lasted for four months. The strike which started in June was called off in October. Before the strike was called off, the Federal Government and the union had an agreement. The 2009 ASUU/FG agreement would later become the reason for subsequent industrial action.
Jonathan/Sambo administration (2010-2015)
10. 2010 – 5 months (150 days)
With one strike per year since 2005, 2010 was no different as ASUU embarked on another indefinite strike that lasted for over five months. The strike started on 22 July 2010 and was called off in January 2011.
11. 2011 – 2 months (60 days)
ASUU went on strike in December 2011, citing federal government’s failure to implement the 2009 agreement as reason. The strike, which was called off in 2012, lasted for 59 days.
12. 2013 – 5 months and a half months (165 days)
On July 1, 2013, another industrial action was embarked upon by ASUU. The union wanted the federal government to implement the 2009 agreement by reviewing the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70 years and increase budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26%, among other things. The strike, which lasted for five months and 15 days, was eventually called off on December 17, 2013.
Buhari/Osinbajo administration (2015-
13. 2016 – 1 week (7 days)
Following the 5-month strike of 2013, Nigerian students and lecturers heaved a sigh of relief as ASUU ceased fire with no strike action recorded in 2014 AND 2015 until Wednesday, 16th November 2016 when ASUU commenced a seven-day warning strike.
13. 2017 – 1 month (30 days)
On August 17, 2017, ASUU again declared an indefinite strike over unresolved and contentious issues with the Federal Government. The strike was called off in September.
14. 2018 – 3 months (90 days)
Again, due to the Federal Government’s failure to honour its 2009 agreement, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared an indefinite nationwide strike. The union announced the strike on Sunday, November 4, 2018, after their National Executive Council meeting held at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State.
The strike was eventually called off on the 7th of February 2019 after a meeting between the ASUU leadership and a government delegation led by labour minister, Chris Ngige, who noted that the government had resolved the eight contentious issues that led to the strike.
15. 2020 – 9 months (270 days)
What began as a 2-week warning strike by ASUU morphed into the mother of all strikes, keeping University students out of the lecture halls for a staggering 9 months.
The indefinite strike was meant to force the FG to abandon Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), a salary payment platform that ASUU claims will diminish university autonomy. It was finally called off due to the government’s cold shoulder and the COVID-19 pandemic.
17. 2022 – 6 months and counting (182 days )
On February 14, 2022, ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke announced a 4-week warning strike over the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement. What began as a 4-week warning strike has transformed into a full-blown strike currently in its 6th month.
But fresh hopes have been raised following the revelation by ASUU on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, that the Federal Governement has accepted its demand to use the UTAS payment system instead of IPPIS, stating that if other agreements are met, the strike will be called off immediately.
Osodeke said, “You know that there are seven issues why we are on strike. They are inviting for discussion on the issue of renegotiation, tomorrow, which is renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
“The issues of IPPIS and UTAS have been put to rest because the test has been done and it has been agreed with the chief of staff. UTAS will be implemented to cover the university.
“If we go into that meeting tomorrow and government say what we have negotiated, we are willing to sign, the strike will be called off,” he said.