An independent pressure group, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has thrown its full weight behind the ongoing industrial action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had reported that the union last Sunday, declared a nationwide indefinite strike at a meeting at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. The University lecturers are protesting poor funding of public universities, non-implementation of the 2009 agreement it entered into with the Federal Government. They are also not happy with the alleged government plans to introduce tuition fees.
The ERC in a statement made available to GIDINEWS, said it fully supports the current indefinite action, emphasizing that it believes the failure of the Nigerian government to properly fund the education sector or honor agreements it freely entered with unions, as usual, are directly responsible for the present strike action.
The statement reads in part: “We therefore call on the government to immediately meet ASUU’s demands in the interest of students. We urge students and parents to support ASUU once again in its persistent struggle to save the public university system against the anti-poor and pro-capitalist agenda of the government to make education a preserve of the rich few.
“They should not listen to government propaganda which is meant to merely hoodwink them. Students must bear in mind that without ASUU’s consistent struggle over the years, the public university system would have been totally destroyed. Therefore the best way to ensure the strike is not prolonged is by joining forces with ASUU through mass protests and demonstrations to compel government to meet the demands. Especially now that many public institutions are increasing fees beyond what students from poor working class background can afford, only the united struggle of students and education workers can prevail.” ERC lamented
The rights organization also knocked the education minister for blaming the nation’s economic situation for government’s failure to meet ASUU demands.
ERC said “As far as we are concerned, Nigeria has enough resources to fund public education adequately if the commanding heights of the national economy are nationalized under democratic control and management. The bottom-line is that even if Nigeria’s makes ten times of its current revenue, the Buhari government may still not fund public education adequately because it is a capitalist government that sees education as a profit-making business rather than a social responsibility.
“The national leadership of ASUU has noted as reasons for the strike the plan of the federal government to reintroduce an education bank and tuition fees, and the persistent failure of the government to honour the terms of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, including a memorandum of understanding signed in 2017 between the federal government and ASUU. The ERC notes that the major component of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement was the need for upward funding of the education sector, including the commitment of the government to release over a period of six years a sum of N1.3 trillion as intervention fund to public universities nationwide as part of the required effort to save public education in the country.”