THE STRIKE FURTHER DEMONSTRATES THE UTTER FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT
The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) has embarked on a 7-day warning strike to compel the federal and state governments to meet its demands. The union is demanding, among other things, the implementation of the agreement the federal government signed with it in 2010, the repositioning of infrastructure, teaching and learning conditions as well as improvement in working conditions in all Federal and state-owned Colleges of education across the country.
We in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) support the demands and strike action of COEASU. This is just a 7-day warning strike. The ball is now in the court of the federal and state governments to avert a full blown strike. This is why the ERC calls on both the Federal and State governments to urgently meet the demands of the striking College of Education lecturers.
The chain of industrial actions in the education sector only confirms the pro-rich and anti-poor disposition of government towards public education at all levels in Nigeria. The nonchalant attitude of government towards the ultimatums and demands of COEASU shows that a properly-funded, free and quality education is not a priority of the present government at Federal and state levels. It is only actions like this, by unions in the education sector who are endangered by the underfunding of education, which can call the attention of government towards the desires of Nigerians for free and quality education.
While COEASU is now declaring a warning strike, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on a total strike for nearly three months over non-implementation of a federal government agreement with the union. Indeed, the crisis in the education sector is pervasive. This explains why other unions in the sector like NASU, SSANU and ASUP are also warming up to join the string of strike actions. Besides, SSANIP and ASUP had just in July suspended strike actions that shut down polytechnics nationwide for three months while the NUT also embarked on strike action in a number of states.
It is very clear that these unions are not just being belligerent; instead they are being forced by the insincerity of government towards signed agreements to resort to strikes to demand their rights to better pay and working conditions.
We call on COEASU to adopt a programmatic method of prosecuting this strike by immediately declaring days of mass protest, and join forces with other unions in the education sector to save public education in Nigeria. This is even very necessary now since all the demands of the various unions in the education sector centre on the proper funding of education and its democratic management. Hence, COEASU must take this step, link up with other unions and set out joint program of actions.
Nigerian students must not be left out in this struggle for the betterment of the education sector. Colleges of education students must not maintain neutrality during this strike. Students must support and join the struggle for adequate funding of public education and democratic running of schools. In fact Nigerian students are mostly at the receiving end of poor academic infrastructure and harsh learning conditions. We in the ERC call on the Nigerian masses and working parents to support this ongoing strike, and call on government to meet the demands of all striking education workers.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto