ASUU: “strike has helped universities”, says chairman [Read Interview]

For one and a half years the academic calendar of federal universities nationwide was not disrupted until last week when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) struck. In this interview, ASUU Chairman, Dr. Nasir Fagge, says strike has always been the union’s last option,
adding that strikes have helped Nigerian universities.Last Monday Nigerians seemed taken aback by the decision of ASUU to embark on an indefinite strike.

Read excepts below:

Did you explore all forms of negotiation and dialogue before embarking on the strike?

Strike has always been an option of last resort for the union, there was never a time we decided upfront to go on strike. We must have exhausted all other avenues at addressing the problem until it becomes clear to us that these other avenues are not yielding the required dividends and that is only when we embark on an action.
For this one we have been having dialogue with government for more than one and a half years. If you recall the last time ASUU was on strike was on December 4, 2011, which was suspended on February 12, 2012 because we signed an MOU with government and we were
convinced then that government meant well and it was keen on implementing the provisions of the MOU. Sadly one and a half years later, we are still virtually where we were…

But isn’t the strike itself killing the system in a way?

What is the alternative? If we fold our arms, the system
would die anyway. So, it is better to do something. I want
to assure you that it is even because we have been going
on strike intermittently that we have a system in the
country…

What is the point of all your strikes if at the end you
would withdraw it without the government meeting
your aspirations?

It is because we are also human beings, we are sensitive. Due to appeals nationwide, the National Assembly, people who really cares about this country keep on putting pressure on you saying ‘suspend, we would address the problem’. The hope is that once we suspend we would commence addressing the problem and unfortunately you
give time. You do not see anything happening and are back to the trenches, which has always been the scenario. I am not happy about it; like I keep telling people, all of usyou see in the system are also parents. I have threechildren in the university, we have spouses who are also students and in fact some of our members are stillstudents. So in reality we suspend because of majority of Nigerians…

Since the strike, have you met with government?

The meeting we were supposed to have at the National Assembly on Tuesday did not hold, because it was delayed and we had a meeting which we could not reschedule again after 3pm. The meeting has been rescheduled to Monday today.

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