“We are not interested in the warning strike. We want an indefinite strike as long as it will take to get them to fulfil their obligations to the academic union.”
Some Nigerian lecturers have said it would have been better for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to declare an indefinite strike, instead of a warning strike.
ASUU announced a one-month warning strike as part of its resolutions at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos on Monday to protest the government’s failure to implement various agreements it entered with the union.
Edith Ohaja, a former head of the Mass Communication Department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said the warning strike was improper because “enough warning” had been given to the government since the union’s last embarked on industrial action.
“I feel that by deciding to embark on a one-month warning strike rather than indefinite one, ASUU has once again shown that it is long on complaints and short on strategy,” Mrs Ohaja said on Monday via a Facebook post.
She said strike action had been recurring partly due to ASSU’s “unwitting tendency to be outfoxed” by the government.
“During this warning strike, the government will set up or reactivate some committees that will hold a few meetings, make some solemn promises which it cannot be reasonably expected to fully implement within one month,” she added.
Mrs Ohaja said the government could “throw in some billions to defray a small percentage of the outstanding arrears of allowances” and expect ASUU to call off its strike in response to what she termed, “gestures of goodwill”.
“Rather than turn the screws tighter to increase pressure on the government, such a position is likely to further fuel public ire. So, we may have shot ourselves in the foot once again,” she said.
Another UNN lecturer, Chidiebere Nwachukwu condemned the Nigerian government for speedily entering into agreements with the union “without intention to fulfil them”.
“I am a bit sad because it ought to have been an indefinite strike, but they declared a one-month warning strike,” Mr Nwachukwu told PREMIUM TIMES.
He said it was unfortunate that the government does not show seriousness to honour agreements with the union.
“We are not interested in the warning strike, we want an indefinite strike as long as it will take to get them to fulfil their obligations to the academic union,” he said.
The ASUU chairman, UNN chapter Christian Opata, said the decision to embark on the warning strike was to give the Nigerian government another opportunity to honour the pending agreements.
“We feel for our children, we feel for parents who suffer. That’s why we said ‘Okay, within this period of warning, let’s see what happens again.’ If they don’t do anything, we can proceed to indefinite action,” Mr Opata told PREMIUM TIMES Monday night.
He said those calling for the union to proceed on indefinite action were only expressing their opinion.
“They don’t understand the dynamics,” he said.