LAWSAN Laments Disruption of Academic Activities, Demands an End to ASUU Strike
LAW STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (LAWSAN)
Compatriots of the Press,
Members of the Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN), the umbrella body for all undergraduate law students in the country, are incensed and outraged at the prolonged altercations between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which has resulted in a disruption of academic activities in our universities. Lending a voice of Nigerian students to the national problem, we condemn the acts with utmost chagrin and firmly posit that the strike is needless, and must come to a necessary end.
For the umpteenth time, we excoriate the unmerited state of Nigeria’s educational institutions and insist that government must demonstrate its commitment to holding education to a premium by doing all the things within its power to further its educational objectives as defined by the constitution. Nigerian students are the most priceless assets and the greatest hope this nation has. Countless times, we have demonstrated this by breaking grounds nationally and internationally, despite our study in the most horrible, unpleasant and discouraging of academic circumstances. Even at that, we are not allowed the simple fortune of smooth, uninterrupted academic activities, and thus, we are constantly struggling between the forces of decadence, instability and inconsistency, to mention but a few. The Nigerian government’s inability to invest in education and its refusal to honour its previous agreements with the ASUU projects total failure from its part as a government on one hand, and dishonesty and hypocrisy as an employer of labour on the other.
While we condemn the government for not taking plausible steps in commitment to education and academic staff, we further advise that the ceaseless, endless strikes are not necessarily in the best interest of Nigerian students. As the adage goes: when two elephants fight, the grass suffers the most. On this note, we call on the ASUU to understand that callous, aggressive and hard-hitting industrial actions are not the only ways of pressing industrial ends. In reality, assertive negotiations, thoughtful, well-coordinated industrial actions and vigorous collective bargaining would prove more potent and civil, and less injurious, especially in the light of current realities. Looking at the chequered history of Nigeria’s tertiary education, strikes had proven potent only in the 80’s and 90’s when nothing else would have brought the then military autocrats to the negotiating table. Since 1999, ASUU went on strike fourteen (14) times severally, for a cumulative period of three (3) years, which had not helped matters. Although we students believe and understand that it is in ultimate good faith that the ASUU does what it does, we still assert that the tool proves overly ineffective, highly detrimental, old-fashioned and abounds an often neglected collateral damage – the helpless students.
Flowing from the above, as an association with over fifty thousand (50,000) members pursuing law degrees in Nigerian Universities, we are concerned that our members in public universities are in imminent danger of losing a significant part of their careers and dreams to the incessant strike actions. Unarguably, all Nigerian students are facing this doom, but most importantly, law students are at risk the most because our undergraduate degrees are preparatory to the Nigerian Law School, with a very thin transitional period in between. Hence, the strike threatens the chances of law students to graduate as at when due, to enable them make it to the Nigerian Law School in due course and under a stable psychological fitness. At best, they risk being rushed through a hazy, chaotic and topsy-turvy academic session to beat the Law School’s admission deadline or their expected graduation time, should the strike persist. Therefore, the Federal Government and the ASUU must find a common ground to ensure that students are back to school and resume full academic activities or we do so for ourselves.
Even when the challenges of our university system today call for a different toolkit than periodic strikes, ASUU keeps doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, which underscore the ineptitude of the strikes that worked in yester decades but are fundamentally ineffective, inefficient and counterproductive today.
We (the students) are willing and resolute to fighting vigorously for the government to pay the required respect to education, educational reform and pleasant conditions of service for our dear tireless lecturers, but the ASUU needs to revisit the terms and operational mechanisms of this struggle, as we do not expect our dedicated lecturers to relent, because the government on the other end is not within the four walls of the universities, and as the strikes have proven, stands to suffer no direct consequence of closure of classrooms. As it is, parents and students, who are the primary constituents of the academic setting after teachers, have turned decisively against the strike and are influencing public opinion and clamouring for its end by all means necessary.
Therefore, in the interest of Nigerian students, while the ASUU pursues its industrial objectives, it should not flex its muscles by shutting down Nigerian universities in which its supposed tormentor (the government) is prima facie not directly involved. Every lecturer desires academic fulfillment in teaching, mentoring, flexibility and other epistemological benefits which are unattainable when students are the direct victims of ASUU’s actions. Disruption of academic programs is the greatest non-motivational factor to learning today, and which has retarded our capacity to develop and grow.
it provokes worry and concern that the entire public atmosphere has been over flooded over the years with debates couched strictly in terms of the hackneyed narrative of what goes in to education in terms of poor funding, infrastructural deficit, earned allowances, and so on. While these are pressing problems craving for solution, attention must also be paid to other fundamental problems bedeviling our universities, to wit: poor instruction, poor supervision and mentorship, porous research, ethical violations, sexual harassment and exploitation of students, political intimidation, lack of dedication to duty, all of which have worsened and academic standards have drastically deteriorated, even with more money poured into universities.
As the ASUU clamours for commitment to infrastructure and compensation from the other end, we appeal to it, as a self-reflective and self-critical professional body whose historic reputation of unparalleled integrity and responsibility is nonpareil, to bring to the fore the attitude, mindset and approach of its members to their jobs in return for the benefits that are being keenly pursued, and in fulfillment of the inherent responsibility of every employee of labour.
Finally, we state, unequivocally and with no sense of reservations, that our members and our fellow colleagues in the studentry are indignant and perturbed at the Nigerian Government and all public officials who hold a stake in this matter for gross failure in terms of education and for treating our lecturers with disdain. The criminal silence of government and elites as the strike lingers in its second month is equally condemnable. Apparently, as the political season is here, they are all engrossed in their campaign jamborees. This is a clear advertisement of the Nigerian state’s total failure to live up to its Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy under section 18 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Should this decay persist, we, as responsible stakeholders, shall rise up and emancipate ourselves from this peril.
Aluta Continua! Victoria Ascerta!!
Atiku Muhammad Jafar,
December 15th, 2018
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LL.B from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
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