ASUU Strike: Unions should change approach in pressing home their demands — varsity registrars

Say prolonged strikes have grave consequences on students, nation’s economy

As Wabba wades into rivalry among varsity unions

Registrars of  Universities in Nigeria, Thursday asked the striking four university based unions in the country to change their approach when pressing home their demands instead of shutting down institutions.

The Registrars lamented that the incessant closures of public universities due to strikes by teaching and non-teaching staff have grave consequences on the students, quality of education and the nation’s economy.

But the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba has described strike as a matter of last resort.

Recall that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff of Education and Allied Institutions, NASU, and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, have been on strike over the alleged inability of the Federal Governmentto attend to some of their concerns.

Speaking at the 71st Business meeting in Abuja, Chairman of
the Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities,  ARNU, Dr Abubakar Mamuda, said though the struggles of the unions have brought significant benefits to the Nigeria University System, it has become imperative for the unions to change tactics in pressing home their demands due to the negative effect of the strike on the education sector.

Mamuda expressed concerns that the devastating effects the current development would have on students, quality of education as well as the registrars themselves may be hard to resolve on the long run.

According to him, ”It is true that the struggles of the unions have brought about significant benefits to the Nigeria University System (NUS), however, in view of its negative effects to the NUS there is the need for change in the approach of the unions in pressing home their demands.”

Asked to suggest alternative approach for aggrieved unions and striking workers to press home their demands, the ARNU boss said, ”Some have suggested that we should go the way of Germany, that a co-determination approach be adopted where work councils would be established for NUS.

”The work Councils will comprise representatives of employees and Government then issues of conditions of services and renumeration will be tackled without obstruction to academic activities.”

ARNU, which is a member of SSANU, maintained that it is imperative its union, ASUU, NASU and NAAT bring every stakeholder on board and ensure to find a lasting solution to the ongoing protracted issues within the university systems.

The ARNU chairman said, ”In recent years, we have witnessed a significant increase in the closures of public universities due to strikes either by the academic staff union or the other unions in the university system.

”These strikes have grave consequences on the students, quality of education and the economy of the country as well as the Registrar, who sits at the cross-roads of university administration and who is always on his desk to respond to the demands of university management and government.”

However, the NLC President, who was the keynote speaker, argued that no union was interested in going on strike, insisting that lack of honouring agreements on the parts of government made unions and workers to resort to strike.

Speaking on the theme, ”Managing Trade Unions and University Administration in an era of uncertainty”, Wabba insisted that the government officials are not truthful for saying Nigeria lacks resources to fund education.

He said, ”Nigeria is one of the countries that is very rich in terms of human and mineral resources. If anyone says we don’t have resources to fund education, the person is not truth,” Wabba said adding no registrar’s salary is up to $800.”

He also lamented the rivalry among the four university based unions which he said had compounded their problems, stressing that he was making efforts to ensure that the unions are under one umbrella and speak with one voice when engaging government officials on their demands.

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