ERC Calls on the Striking Unions to Escalate the Strike By Embarking on Nationwide Mass Protests and Demonstrations
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) puts the blame for the lingering strike of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) at the feet of the President Muhammadu Buhari anti-poor capitalist APC government.
Since the strike started in December 2017, the federal government has largely ignored the unions. In fact, the President Buhari government has been insensitive to the demands of the striking unions and the plight of students who have been subjected to terrible living and studying conditions as a result of the stoppage of essential services like water and electricity supply to classrooms, libraries, laboratories, offices and hostels as well as waste disposal due to the strike action.
We in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemn the federal government refusal to resolve the issues surrounding the demands of the striking unions. We believe that every worker has the right to his or her wages and associated allowances and the demand for earned allowances by the unions is for the services rendered to the institutions and by extension Nigeria at large.
We hereby demand the immediate meeting of the demands of the striking unions which include payment of backlog of earned allowances that the government has been owing the striking workers for several years now.
The ERC stands with SSANU, NASU and NAAT in their struggle. For far too long, successive anti-poor governments have treated non-academic workers with disdain. However, this is not to mean that academic workers are treated any better. Meanwhile, without non-academic workers, no university or any institution can function. We therefore urge SSANU, NASU and NAAT to escalate the strike by organizing nationwide mass protests and demonstrations. This is essential to build public support for the strike and pile pressure on the government.
As the strike actions in the university linger, students are faced with many challenges on campus. The withdrawal of services by the unions translates to shut down of electricity, water and many other essential services provided by the non-teaching staff. At the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) for instance, students had to write their examinations in a sorry state with no electricity to read in the hostels and many other unbearable circumstances. Many had to depend for weeks on water scooped from surrounding streams. This was aside the mountain of refuse that piled up on every inch of the campus as a result of the withdrawal of service by workers who carry out these functions in compliance with the strike.
At the University of Lagos (UNILAG) the welfare conditions are getting worse. Students hardly cook in their hostels as electricity and ordinary water are out of reach of students. Most of the classrooms and laboratories are under lock and key. Learning for students has never been this bad and yet the government of the day is yet to attend to the burning issues. Many other campuses in the country face similar issues and we in the ERC feels this is the right time we students takes position on what benefit our future.
Given the terrible sanitary conditions on the campus as s a result of the strike, an epidemic outbreak at some point cannot be ruled out. We therefore urge parents and the public to hold the Federal government responsible if any mishap should happen to students in public universities affected by the strike including ill health, outbreak of cholera and other diseases arising from the terrible conditions students in public universities are now subjected.
We call on the Students Union body on all campuses to join in the campaign in calling on the President Buhari APC government to immediately meet the demands of the SSANU, NASU and NAAT as well as improve funding of the education sector so that the striking workers can return to work and restore essential services without which no university can truly function. It is obvious no doubt that this government current budget to education is a mere 7% of the total budget, an indication that this capitalist government does not care on improving our education.
We call on all education workers, both teaching and non-teaching, students and parents to initiate a joint struggle for better funding and democratic management of education in the country where workers remunerations will be taken seriously, adequate facilities for quality education provided, as well as improved students welfare conditions across all campuses.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Ibukun Omole
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary