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SUPPORT OF ASUU (ACADEMIC STUDENT UNION OF UNIVERSITIES) WITH THE ONGOING STRIKE FOR THE FG (FEDERAL GOVERNMENT) TO PROVIDE BETTER RESOURCES FOR GOOD LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS FOR STUDENTS OR IN SUPPORT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR SCHOOLS TO RESUME.
Good day respected judges, my worthy opponents, faculty members and audience, I Ahmad Khalid Hussain hereby humbly express my thanks for your time. As previously stated I am hereby standing for the motion which states that: ASUU is right on the ongoing strike. my stand is based on the points discussed below.
Firstly, Despite proliferation of private universities, there remains the issue of affordability. Most cannot send their kids to public primary & secondary schools today, because they are deteriorated. The main reason Universities are still standing is the struggles of ASUU.
Government attempted to privatise schools.
Secondly, Government tried to privatise Unity schools at some point, but that didn't work as they met resistance. Government should continue to make education affordable as it's the greatest weapon we have to transform our society, not try to hands-off funding it on assuming power. We can't afford private schools. And when you make access to public services impossible or expensive, people will find a way to obtain their existential needs. This will worsen corrupt practices.
Asking that the right thing should be done isn't equal being problematic.
In addition, ASUU is using its platform, University education to showcase the ideals that shd be pursued.
In 2009, after pressure, government signed FGN-ASUU agreement which was to be renegotiated every 3 years Hasn't been renegotiated once to date!
Four key issues were raised in the agreement which is listed as follows:
a. Funding universities & how it shd be included in budget. This year >7% budgeted for education. So instead of reviewing upwards the agreement is almost totally ignored.
b. Condition of service. No other agreement has remained on same salary structure for 11 years, as ASUU.
c. Universities autonomy: every university is governed by an act. IPPIS has created so much tension that government has elevated it above our main demands. We are rejecting it because it violates university autonomy. VC needs Accountant General clearance before employing a single lecturer.
This autonomy issue has so many dimensions. This can hinder academic freedom.
d. Other matters e.g. laws, policies that will not allow universities to function according to their enabling acts. E.g. role of JAMB in dictating admission criteria for univesities. Etc.
These issues have persisted since 2009.
Most striking is d REVITALISATION issue
This is the crux of the university's operations. Laboratory use consumables, equipment, we need classes. In hostels students now sleep in shifts as rooms are at 300% capacity.
Now a key issue.
In 2012, Government Challenged ASUU's claims that universities are suffering from rot from 1960s infrastructure. This resulted in FG & ASUU going to 68 public universities in the NEEDS ASSESSMENT.
All ASUU's claims were verified. Kerosene stoves have replaced bunsen burners in our laboratory!.
So in 2013, governmrnt promised to inject N1.3 trillion into public universities, to begin with N200b in 2013. They signed this document, but took 5 years to release this 1st 200b! The govt would have completed releasing the fund by now if they had kept faith with the agreement.
Today, that single tranche has changed the face of universities, as we now have some labs etc. Imagine if govt fulfilled their end!
TETFund is another brainchild of ASUU.
1992, Pres. Babangida asked ASUU for source of funds to finance universities as govt couldn't.
If ASUU didn't come up with an idea, govt wanted to increase fees!
ASUU said 2% should be charged to users of graduates of public universities. Government today is being lobbied to fund private Universities with money ASUU helped raise for students of public universities.
Students should be more alert as the pressure to increase fees and deprive public universities of funding is still on. We are appealing to our students and youth to not trade off their future.
Education can be free for poor Nigerians too, as it is in Cuba, Germany etc.
Lastly, Government is asking ASUU about funds released to Universities? Government released money to pro-chancellors, not ASUU. The law says universities should be visited once in not >5y. Government last constituted Visitation Panels in 2011! We've been asking govt to visit their universities,to no avail. Another clamor is the renegotiation. At a point, government wanted to introduce the education bank.
Looks attractive, but its a booby trap. 700k will be paid to universities: public or private. This will ultimately ruin public universities to fund private Universities. 2001-2007, this experiment was attempted, it failed. Why give loans to students who have no guarantee of jobs to repay N4m loans? Interest will hold students ransom if repayment isn't done. This isn't the best
Our rulers' kids don't attend public schools, you know. These children will come in and outcompete Nigerian graduates. Now, apart from facilities, you need workers with morale. The way Nigerian Lecturers are driven , their morale is dampened.
Allowances, Earned Academic Allowances, from 2009 is still outstanding! In 2019 March we got to memorandum of action/agreement for how government will pay up, nothing happened a year after. Proliferation of universities: existing universities are decaying, yet new ones are being created as constituency projects. We asked at National Assembly why they refused to assist with increasing funding, as we discovered 85 new universities were being proposed!
In conclusion, there is no doubt in my mind that I have been able to convince the audience including the learned opponent and of course the doubting Thomases that ASUU is right on the ongoing strike.
I thank you very much for giving my speech attentive audience.
IN SUPPORT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S DESCISION FOR UNIVERSITIES TO RESUME REGARDLESS OF THE PENDING STRIKE.
I choose to debate both as a student and an imminent graduate. It comes without any mincing of words that ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) has distorted the image of higher school education for the teeming Nigerian student populace. The perpetual strike that has now accounted for a cumulative of four years three months (40 Months) since 1999 has made studying in Nigerian public Universities a horror story. The perfect analogy for our higher educational system is a tree yielding sour or much better bitter fruits reaped by the Nigerian Student as caused by the failed but yet hidden roots which is ASUU.
It is important to note again that ASUU stands for Academic Staff Union of Universities and that the Academic and University aspect has suffered neglect while much light and focus has been thrown on “Staff Union”.
It is worth taking note that members of ASUU are mostly Lecturers absorbed from Universities scattered all over the country, whose first and primary objective is to protect the right and interest of themselves and that of their colleagues.
ASUU’s industrial action can be seen as an arm pointing or exposing the neglect and the importance placed on the average Nigerian university student. I cannot but wonder the intent on the minds of our forefathers that invented this system of Education. Was the school made for the student or was it made for the teacher? Since the cliché “action speaks louder than words” has established a known fact, we would look at the actions taken to reflect on the earlier rhetorical question.
For as far back as 1999, history continually records a seemingly endless tussle between ASUU and the Federal Government. I must stand to say that this tussle has profited my contemporaries and I barely anything.
It is also notable to say that a lot of lectures have used ASUU to announce themselves in the political arena, gain public recognition and personal aggrandizement as unionism is seen as a hotspot used to climb society’s political ladder.
The most recent strike by ASUU appeared on the headlines on March 20, 2020 to the dismay of many Nigerian Students. This came after the Federal Government’s decision to cease payment of salaries to University Staff members not enrolled on IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System). This system is said to be used to pay the President himself, Nigerian Judges and most members of staff under the Federal Government parastatal. ASUU claims that this system cannot account for the peculiarities of the payment nature of lecturers.
This statement has however been quelled by the Accountant General of the federation citing that zero(0) complains from other MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) signals the efficacy of the system.
Other issues causing the recent tussle between ASUU and the Federal Government are because of the claims that the Federal Government truncates the autonomy of administration and has its hands deep in the internal affairs of universities. ASUU also alleges the issue of poor infrastructural development in universities which is paradoxical in light of the visible TETfund projects.
As a student I am backing the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools regardless of the pending strike because;
I believe resumption of schools will stimulate the Nigerian economy which is already slipping into comma, as there are chunks of Nigerian businesses reliant on the presence of students on campus. A lot of economic sectors will feel this impact e.g. Transport and petty trading.
Secondly, the Federal Government want Universities reopened to avoid utter brain drain of the “leaders of tomorrow”.
Finally and important reason ASUU should accede to the reopening of schools is to make the balancing of the already shaky academic calendar easier and time recovery possible.
This debate shouldn’t serve only as avenue to quash the ongoing altercation between the Federal Government and ASUU but as a call to order or challenge to the toothless bulldog called NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) to rise to the occasion and stop tolerant and accommodating nature towards the two above mentioned parties and grow nourished teeth and put them to good use.
Good day Mr. Chairman, panel of judges, accurate time keepers, my co-debaters and my fellow listening audience.
I support the Federal Government's decision to resume regardless of the pending strike because of the future of the upcoming generation.
For a country in a hurry to develop, and catch up with today’s knowledge economy, Nigeria lags too far behindbin education. To worsen matters, the increase in the number of public universities amid dwindling resources has adversely affected the quality of academic staff, research and much more in our
universities. This calls for far-reaching reforms in the tertiary education sector and that cannot be done in an environment in which stakeholders are busy attacking one another in the media.
The government should engage the unions in a candid dialogue based on the current ASUU strike.
A compromise has to be reached.
Throwing brickbats as to who should go to the farm between the lecturers and the minister of
state for education will not resolve the crisis at hand. All the critical issues in our tertiary institutions must be addressed in an atmosphere of mutual respect between the stakeholders.
ASUU and the federal government must therefore go back to the negotiating table in the interest of Nigerian students.
Meanwhile, the authorities must find a way to resolve the current crisis so that both ASUU and NASU can call off the strike so that our students can return to campus.
Gentlemen of the press, as we all work towards the reopening of learning facilities nationwide, I strongly urge school owners to put in place systems that meet the following:
• Safe distancing procedures.
• Safety and hygiene in all stages and phases of the school reopening process, which promotes behaviors that reduce spread such as, safe distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of facemasks.
• Other guiding frameworks include
sensitization and monitoring procedures.
• Ensure adequate Water, Sanitation
and Hygiene (WASH) facilities across the school premises.
• Encouraging the use of open spaces for gathering and promoting outdoor activities.
• There should be regular temperature checks for all the visitors coming into the schools using infrared
Any institution that does not comply with the guidelines of covid19 should be closed down.
I hereby vigilant, strict, and rigid in the implementation of COVID-19 protocols for the safety of our children and ourselves as we reopen schools.
Nothing should be taken for granted.
Let me use this opportunity to thank and appreciate the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Presidential Task
Force on Covid-19, and other stakeholders for the various roles they have played, which have brought us this far.