Public university education in Nigeria has faced many challenges since time immemorial. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, or ASUU, regularly embarks on strikes, the most frequent of these difficulties. This is usually accompanied by the closure of universities, which affects the students’ academic calendar. ASUU is a Nigerian union whose role is to ensure the well-being of the university academic staff.
From its birth, ASUU has always battled around the survival of the Nigerian University system under three main tracks: conditions of service (salary and non-salary), university autonomy, and the defence of the right to education.
The ASUU strike’s disruption of the academic calendar could result in students missing up to two school semesters. Consequently, many students now prefer private universities or universities in neighbouring African countries, including Ghana, Benin and Togo, not because of the superiority of academic programme offerings but because of the instability of the academic calendar owing to strikes.
- ASUU was established in 1978 as a replacement for the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (N.A.U.T. ), established in 1965 and represented the academic staff at all of the Federal and State Universities in the nation. In January 1965, when Nigeria had 5 Federal Universities, the National Association of University Teachers (N.A.U.T.) was founded.
- The first ASUU strike before the union metamorphosed into its current formation was on the 16th of April, 1973, to call for improved conditions of service following 4 years of negotiation with University authorities that yielded no results.
- Before going on an indefinite strike, the union always embarks on a warning strike, which lasts at least a week.
- ASUU consistently bases its justifications for the strike primarily on the funding and rejuvenation of Nigeria’s public universities and a specific earned allowance.
- It was a tendency for the military governments to proscribe the union.
- In July 1988 the military leader, Ibrahim Babangida, denounced the union, which had embarked on a strike when ASUU did not comply with a 48-hour ultimatum to return to work. Babangida’s regime accused the NLC, NANS and ASUU of attempting to topple the regime.
- On 23 August 1996, General Sani Abacha proscribed the 3 major university unions, including ASUU.
- The most prolonged ASUU strike lasted nine months, from March 23rd, 2021, to December 23rd, 2021. This was the most recent strike that was resolved in 2020. Coincidentally, ASUU embarked on the strike the same day the National Universities Commission (NUC) directed universities nationwide to shut down for one month to prevent the spread of the virus.
- The 1994/5 strike, the 2002/03 strike, the 2010/11 strike, and the 2018/19 strike by ASUU all continued into subsequent years.
- Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i, the honourable minister of education, urged all other labour unions to join ASUU in protest in 2013.
- 1995/1995 Strike: 5 Months 1 Day
- 2013 Strike: 5 Months 16 Days
- 1996 Strike: 5 Months 22 Days
- 2010/2011 Strike: 5 Months 27 Days
- 2020 Strike: 9 Months, 23 Days
- 2022 Strike: 8 Months