by Paul Osas
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday renewed its struggle with the Federal Government over unpaid allowances and other demands agreed upon as it decided to embark on an indefinite strike until its demands are met. The resolution followed the body’s National Executive Committee meeting held at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State on Sunday and which dragged till the early hours of Monday.
Already, the strike which began yesterday, has taken its toll on students as they loafed around on campus not sure what next to do. The strike with the government, followed the federal government’s failure to honour the Academic Earned Allowance (AEA) which formed a component of the 2009 Agreement government signed with the union.
Sadly, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has also been on strike for over two months over improved conditions for polytechnic staff and the provision of learning materials and equipment as well as improved infrastructure for the institutions. The government has been largely silent on the ASUP strike and now that of ASUU has joined the list of pending items in the government’s urgent to-do list.
One of the most quoted refrains by officials of Aso Rock, and even the president himself as achievement in education sector is that “before now we used to have our universities go on strike for many months but since Pres. Jonathan came, that has not been the case.” However with ASUP strike gradually hitting the three-months mark and that of ASUU just beginning, Aso Rock now stands the risk of discarding that claim of achievement.
In fact, the president faces an uphill battle in the next few days and weeks to retain some of his talking points, as even the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has also embarked on a three days warning strike over unfair labour practices by some international oil companies (IOCs) toward its members. NUPENG cited unfair labour practices by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Chevron Nigeria Limited and Nigeria Agip Oil Company as reason for the industrial action.
The development saw the re-emergence of illegal fuel vendors popularly known as black marketers across the nook and cranny of Abuja and other states hit by the scarcity, as most filling stations ran out of the product while those open to business had unimaginable queues.
Even though NUPENG strike is against the international oil firms, the return of fuel queues is bad news for the administration which since 2010 has emphasised the end of fuel scarcity and massive queues as an achievement of the government.
Already activities in Kaduna, Abuja and several states in the north east were paralyses on Monday and this is expected to filter down south today.