Education is one of the most potent instruments a nation can use to shape, change, and build the thinking of its citizens. Education is vital for the development of a country. As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.
Industrial action is a temporal show of dissatisfaction by employees through protest or strikes action to meet up with their demands. This usually happens when negotiation between the employer and employee has failed. Before the industrial revolution, an employer had the power to “hire and fire” without being opposed, and the employee could not negotiate the contract terms with the employer. Subsequently, employees, through the umbrella of the trade union, were able to air out their grievances and oppose the harsh treatment of their employer.
The impediment of industrial action on tertiary education
Tertiary education in Nigeria has been sabotaged by strike action, disrupting the academic calendar flow. A typical Nigerian student studying in a public university whose course is four years ends up spending five to six years due to strike action. Currently, the Academic staff union of the University, an association for university lecturers in Nigeria popularly known as (ASUU), is on strike. The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union are also on strike action.
The ASUU strike is not new to the Nigerian education system as it dates to 1988, when the union organised a national strike action to obtain fair wages and a system of university autonomy. Since then (2022), ASUU has embarked on several strike actions, disrupting the students’ academic programs.
The continuous ASUU strike action is due to the failure of the federal government of Nigeria to execute the agreement between the government and the union in 2009 and the adoption of means of payment of salaries. The Federal Government recommends using integrated payroll and personnel information system (IPPIS), while the union recommends the university accountability transparency solution (UTAS).
Nigerian students have become the victim of these prolonged strikes, as it affects the duration of course study leading to extension of years, unstable academic calendar, poor academic performance, and a high rate of social vices due to idleness.
As the future of the country is at risk, the federal government should investigate the situation facing the academic staff union at the university and negotiate a settlement to terminate the strike. This will impact how well the young Nigerians are educated.