The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has once again called on the federal government to honor its numerous agreements, emphasizing that the union does not resort to strikes willingly but is compelled to do so when pushed to the brink. In a series of press conferences held by the University of Ilorin and Kwara State University branches, ASUU representatives reiterated their demands for adequate funding of existing universities rather than the establishment of new ones that cannot be properly maintained.

Since 2019, when the federal government and ASUU members signed multiple agreements aimed at improving the welfare of staff and upgrading infrastructure across Nigerian universities, the union has been forced to embark on several strikes to press for the implementation of these agreements. These repeated disruptions have been a source of frustration for both the academic community and students.

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At a press briefing, the University of Ilorin branch of ASUU outlined several key demands that remain unmet. Similarly, the Kwara State University branch made an urgent appeal to education stakeholders to pressure the federal government into addressing these issues to prevent further disruption of the academic calendar. They questioned the rationale behind approving new universities while the older ones suffer from neglect and underfunding.

Both branches of ASUU organized demonstrations on their campuses, carrying placards with messages indicating their reluctance to strike and stressing that such actions are taken only as a last resort. During a press interaction, Dr. Alex Akanmu, Chairman of ASUU at the University of Ilorin, highlighted several of the union’s unmet demands.

Dr. Akanmu said, “Barely a year ago, when the present administration was inaugurated, there was high hope for a timely resolution of our demands, given the pseudo-democratic roles played by some elements now in government. Unfortunately, they have acted contrary to expectations and have become more anti-labour. With joint efforts, we have a country to rescue, and we assure you that we shall overcome. For the avoidance of doubt, a few of our issues with the government are hereby brought to the notice of the public.”

Among the unmet agreements, Dr. Akanmu cited the federal government/ASUU renegotiation of the 2019 agreement as a primary concern. This renegotiation is crucial for addressing issues related to staff welfare, funding, and the overall improvement of the university system.

In a parallel address, Dr. Shehu Salau, Chairman of ASUU at Kwara State University, lamented that the federal government still owes about three and a half months’ worth of salaries to university staff. He expressed frustration at the deceptive tactics employed by the authorities, which have negatively impacted the lives of ASUU members across various campuses.

Dr. Salau stated, “ASUU condemns the deceitfulness of the concerned authorities towards our members across campuses. We warned that it would be unfortunate if we are forced to take action to demand the redress of all outstanding issues. ASUU is not in the business of strike-mongering. We don’t want to strike. But if we are forced to take action—many of our universities are still owed about three and a half months of salaries. The government should immediately pay those salaries.”

The persistent issues raised by ASUU underscore the chronic underfunding and mismanagement plaguing Nigeria’s higher education sector. Despite the critical role that universities play in national development, successive governments have consistently failed to prioritize education. This neglect has resulted in deteriorating infrastructure, poor staff welfare, and a decline in the quality of education.

ASUU’s demands are not new; they reflect long-standing grievances that have been the subject of numerous negotiations and agreements over the years. The 2019 agreement, for instance, included provisions for improved funding, better working conditions, and the revitalization of the university system. However, the lack of implementation has led to a cycle of strikes, negotiations, and more strikes.

The broader implications of this ongoing crisis are significant. The frequent strikes disrupt the academic calendar, causing delays in the graduation of students and affecting their career prospects. Furthermore, the instability in the university system deters investment in education and undermines Nigeria’s competitiveness on the global stage.

In conclusion, the latest appeal by ASUU for the federal government to implement its agreements is a call for urgent action to address the systemic issues in Nigeria’s higher education sector. It is a reminder that the future of the nation’s youth and the overall development of the country are at stake. The government must demonstrate genuine commitment to fulfilling its promises and investing in the education sector. Only then can Nigeria hope to build a robust and resilient educational system that meets the needs of its people and contributes to national development.