By Moshood Erubami
What is to be done to reset Nigeria to assume a new status of a developed Country in the next three months should include finding a lasting solution to the lingering ASUU Strike!
This is possible instead of the Labour Unions joining the strike and prolonging the strike, using the non-resumption of the students to negotiate the demands of ASUU. The Labour Leaders should offer their platform to negotiate lasting Peace in the Nation. This is what is expected where developmental unionism is being practiced.
What is required is the sound usage of the known Methods of Conflict Resolution. ASUU issue, as difficult as it appears can be solved within one week with a clear mind and patriotic intents of the Stakeholders.
Foremost, the Minister of Labour and his counterpart from the Ministry of Education should resign or be thrown out of their offices for official lethargy and gross incompetence.
For several months, they could not and have failed to fashion out a lasting approach for settling very simple staff grievances through the best grievance handling methodology in the best interest of our children who are the Victims. They should not sit in their offices for a day longer!
As the situation is, the ASUU strike could not be resolved only through prolonged negotiation. It requires instant conflict resolution actions. In practical terms, the government should urgently invite the striking lecturers for positive discussions to reiterate on the causative factors of the lingering strike including showing strong commitment to the welfare of the lecturers.
One quick step and key understanding that must be followed is not to accept the issues of improving the quality of education-through provisions of the necessary education infrastructures-but to also show interest in the remunerations of the lecturers as the key education driving force.
After demonstrating strong commitment to what ASUU is asking for from all angles, it should be plainly pointed out to ASUU, through offering convincing reasons why the present government cannot fulfill the whole underlying obligations in the agreement signed by the administration in 2009.
As a matter of regular expression of goodwill, It is not hidden and unheard of, that the lecturers on many occasions told their employers that they are not averse to renegotiations if the present government cannot meet the demands in the 2009 agreement, while insisting on faithful, sincere and strong political will to implement the new agreement that may ensue from the renegotiation.
The steps towards achieving this condition, within 72 hours are:
- Offering immediate offer of fractions say 25% of monetary expectations through the payment of a lump sum of monetary considerations for personal emoluments of the lecturers and infrastructural facilities for every University.
- Placing the implementation of whatever remains on the future Budget since it is well known that what is not budgeted cannot be spent. The next level payment or implementation will then be decided for quarterly releases based on conveniences of the government. The balances will be stretched till it can be said to have been finally defrayed!
- The government, even when not asked, should make a stipend available as a bursary to the students as a way to cushion their stress while they were forced to stay at home with their equally inadequately engaged parents.
- Instantly, the resumption of ASUU will bring about a peaceful atmosphere in the Universities, with the payment of bursary and guaranteed scholarship for brilliant students from poor homes, it will redirect the minds of stakeholders to creative positivism!
The effect of these will positively resonate in the education environment and elevate qualitative teaching, learning and researching to a higher order.
Finally, Government should make it clear to the lecturers that negotiations on the process through which their salaries will be paid cannot be enforce and that the current manner through which their salaries are being paid should be allowed unless the irregularities or at worst malpractices in current methods are so glaring and mutually agreed for change can the change being sought will become considerate.
The government presently owns the ace because the fair method of meeting salary obligations is the prerogatives of the Employers of labour!
Comrade Mashood Erubami, President and Convener, Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS), and the Coalition for Democracy in Nigeria (CODIN), wrote in from Ibadan, Oyo State.