Akin Akande, Abuja
Former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Muzanli Jibril, on Tuesday carpeted the Federal Government for the protracted strike by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Professor Jibril, who didn’t mince words while speaking at the public lecture organised by NUC to mark its 51st anniversary, said that the Federal Government had not mastered the act of negotiation with the union.
He attributed the incessant strike by members of ASUU to the inability of Federal Government to send skilled representatives to negotiation meetings with the union.
ASUU’s strike, which has paralysed academic activities in all government higher institutions, is in its fourth month, without any breakthrough in negotiations.
Professor Jibril was the NUC Executive Secretary between 1996 and 2001.
He said more often than not government enters into negotiations with ASUU officials unprepared, noting that engaging former academicians who held or have held positions in government could have been able to foster better understanding of ASUU, its strike and strategies.
Jubril also said ASUU by its tradition has been able to link significant improvement in funding to university system to strikes, which has translated into “one ASUU strike, one major increment”.
The former NUC boss noted that each industrial action by the union was hinged on funding adding that before the union went on strike, they must have given government several ultimatums which government usually pays lip service to, a situation he said has been the bane of the sector.
The former NUC boss said: “Government enters into negotiations with ASUU unprepared, if the government does its part, there would be no need for ASUU to embark on strike, if they do, no one would listen to them.
“The attitudes of successive governments have also not helped matters as it has made the union to realise that it can only get what it wants by embarking on strike.
“The major problem causing the industrial actions is the ‘chronic under-funding’ of the institutions.
“A document produced by the NUC calculating the amount of funding for universities had shown that the schools only get 34 percent of what they need.
“Government itself does not listen to its own agencies as the NUC has appeared before several committees on the need for proper funding of the universities.
“So what are you telling ASUU, if you want more money, go on strike. The union does not just embark on strike, they give notice, they embark on warning strikes. Once an ASUU strike is on, you cannot easily get them to call off,” he said.
He said the success of every ASUU President is measured by how much increment he got out of the government.