The Gap

6 ways ASUU can rid itself of the word ‘strike’

6 ways ASUU can rid itself of the word ‘strike’ 1

Certain words go together like Adam and Eve, Back and Forth, Bride and Groom, Cause and Effect, Husband and Wife, Ladies and Gentlemen, Law and Order, Profit and Loss, Rise and Fall, Salt and Pepper, Trial and Error, Up and Down, Right and Wrong. However, if there’s ever an award for two words that shouldn’t have had anything in common but are now commonly used together, ASUU and ‘strike’ will beat all the ones above black and blue!

Once you type ASUU on Google, be prepared to see the following Google Autocomplete, a search engine feature that provides search term predictions based on the most search keywords and/or phrases: “ASUU strike update”, “ASUU strike”, “ASUU strike update today”, “ASUU strike Nigeria”, “ASUU latest news”, “ASUU update”, “ASUU strike update today 2020”, “ASUU strike update today 2021”, “latest news on ASUU strike”, “ASUU meeting today”, “ASUU update today”, “latest on ASUU strike”, “ASUU strike news”, “ASUU news today”, “ASUU latest”, “latest news on ASUU strike today”, “ASUU Twitter”, “ASUU news today 2020”, “ASUU strike update 2021 today news”, “ASUU suspends strike 2020”, “Is ASUU still on strike”, “FG ASUU strike”, “Nigeria ASUU strike update”, “has ASUU strike been called off”, “Is ASUU going on strike tomorrow”, “Is ASUU on strike”, “FG and ASUU strike update”, “ASUU president”, “Strike update”…Welcome to the world of Batman and Robin!

Before I go further, I’d like to ask a few questions:

  • Have you ever been arrested because you were at home instead of being in school because of an ASUU strike action?
  • Have you lost your means of livelihood as a trader on campus because of an ASUU strike action?
  • Have you been fired from your job because of absentmindedness caused by worrying over when your ward’s four-year course, now in the seventh year, will end?
  • Have you cried so uncontrollably that you had to vomit because your mum lost her job worrying over when your four-year course, now in the seventh year, will end?
  • Have you had a near-death experience during a protest over an ASUU strike action?
  • Have you worked in other industries other than lecturing because of an ASUU strike action?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to at least half of these questions, then you can understand the principle of cause and effect when applied to these two words when they decide to work in tandem and go at loggerheads with the federal government.

We're voiceless, say UNILAG students | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Features — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

ASUU, strike, and FG

Since the return to civilian rule in 1999, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has spent 1,500 days or 4.09 years on strike, according to findings by The Punch newspaper. This implies that about 19.5 per cent of every academic year is spent on strike.

Let’s examine four ways this do-or-die relationship can be done and dusted with.

#1 Budget Solution: Campaign for better funding

On Friday, December 24, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2022 Appropriation Bill titled “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability” into law at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The budget, valued at ₦17.126 trillion, includes ₦869 billion for statutory allocation, ₦3.8 trillion for debt servicing, ₦6.9 trillion, and ₦5.4 trillion for recurrent and capital expenditure respectively. Education got ₦1.29 trillion.

In 2021, out of the ₦13.08 trillion budget, only ₦742.5 billion, or 5.68 per cent of the total, was allocated to education. Though the president pushed this year’s allocation a notch higher by giving ₦1.29 trillion to the education sector, the allocation is still less than 10 per cent of the annual budget, signalling failure in meeting the UNESCO recommendation (20%).

Nigeria’s public universities rely primarily on government funding and even if the country increases its education allocation to the top end of UNESCO’s recommendation, it would be allocating about ₦2 trillion to education.

To end the faceoff with ASUU, the government needs to increase the budgetary allocation for education. The FG may scream ‘lack of funds’ but one can be forgiven for suggesting it could be closer to a lack of will. For example, the government can free up funds for education if it reduces personnel costs, reform and reduces the bloated and underperforming civil service, review money budgeted for fuel subsidies, and other baggage in its annual budget.

#2 School Fees Solution: Campaign for tuition that has inflation in mind

The school fees paid in public universities in Nigeria are not in tune with the present economic realities in the country. In 2021, final year students in the Computer Science department of Delta State University, Abraka paid ₦68,000 for a session. In 2019, final year Law Students at Obafemi Awolowo University paid ₦30,000. Let us use a running cost, like salary, to put it in proper perspective.

The Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) recommends professors earn a basic annual salary between ₦4 to ₦6 million. This means it would take the annual school fees of at least 59 students paying ₦68,000 to meet up with the salary of one lecturer.

Let’s use another running cost, this time alternative power supply, to show how meagre the school fees paid. In 2017, a Rural Electrification Agency audit showed that 37 federal universities were using 1,068 generators. Let’s assume that the schools spend over ₦3.5 million a month to purchase diesel (we won’t bother to add repairs and maintenance). It would take about 51 students paying ₦68,000 each to meet up with the yearly supply of Automotive Gas Oil.

The relative success of private universities may suggest that the school fees route is the way to go. But one should have it at the back of the mind that private universities accommodate a relatively small number of students compared to public universities. Also, they are free to hike their fees at any time which allows them to operate successfully.

#3 Donor Solution: Campaign for external funding

Attracting donations from local and, especially international organisations will help boost the resources of public tertiary institutions. The schools, however, must create structures that build and leverage relationships with those establishments. It must be a deliberate effort and not something left to happenstance.

#4 Business Solution: Campaign for internally generated funds

Creating a campus-based business or finding profitable online business ideas can be daunting. There are lots of possible choices, yet everything seems like it’s been done thousands of times before. So, where will ASUU start digging to find the gold from the myriad of choices?

Below is a list of opportunities public tertiary institutions can take advantage of today to grow a profitable business in 2022 and beyond.

  • Selling digital products
  • Dropshipping
  • Online gaming
  • Consulting
  • Print-on-demand services
  • Freelance business
  • Ecommerce store owner

#5 Movie Production Solution: Putting experience to good use

ASUU has a lot of materials on its hand to convert to screenplays and make billions of dollars in moving production. Let’s use one movie idea as an illustration.

  • Title: Handout
  • Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Duration: 120 min.
  • Story: In 1992, ASUU embarks on a strike action largely due to the sacking of some lecturers at the University of Benin. To thwart this action, the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida promulgates a decree which makes strike actions by lecturers a treasonable felony. The lecturers stick to their guns and the Babangida junta bows to pressure.
  • Style: Exciting, suspenseful, rough, stylised, serious, psychotronic, intense, ridiculous…
  • Audience: PG 18
  • Plot: Betrayal, DSS, police, army, navy, air force, revenge, special agents, hidden identity, undercover, arch-villain, standoff, prison, race against time, bomb, cocaine, good versus evil, transformation, violence, murder, prison escape, death, brutality, body-swapping, crimes, hospital, tragedy, deception…
  • Time: 20th century, 1990s
  • Place: Lagos, Benin, Abuja, Ibadan, Ife, Zaria

The financial realities facing public universities in Nigeria suggest the need for a concerted effort between the public and private sectors. But ASUU can do something drastic to dissociate itself from the word ‘strike’ if all else fails…

Timeline: How ASUU strike left Nigerian students idle for over 3 years since 1999 -

#6 Political Party Solution: Take the bull by the horn

According to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, about 94 per cent of students attend Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions. If this stat is correct and if we consider the demography of the population of Nigeria, Y-SANASU (Youths, Students, Academic & Non-Academic Staff Union), for example, may be able to give APC, PDP, and the likes a run for their money by starting from the bottom up i.e. councillorship, state chairperson, state assembly, etc., before aiming for national dominance.


  • If well organised, Y-SANASU has the number to change the country’s political terrain.
  • The experience that university VCs have garnered while conducting elections will come in handy for the new party.
  • Over 30 years of experience in fighting with an opposition (Federal Government). This resilience is needed in politics.
  • During an election, the party will have sympathy votes from parents of students who have endured a lot from the perpetual faceoff between ASUU and the government.
  • The party’s presence in all 36 states and Abuja will stand it in good stead ahead of the challenges that come with politicking.


  • Low resources to run a political party, expand its base, etc.
  • Absence of a money bag the party can run to when a severe money issue arises.
  • The process of running a party is lacking.


  • Nigerians are seemingly tired of APC and PDP and need a ‘third force’. Can Y-SANASU adapt to meet the need? Y-NOT!
  • Y-SANASU’s ‘service/product’ fills a void in the political terrain.
  • Y-SANASU will hit a major milestone in the country if it is registered as a political party. Benefits from a positive press will have far-reaching effects.


  • Pressure from jittery, but influential, rivals could make INEC not register the party.
  • Smear campaigns from rivals could make Y-SANASU dead on arrival.
  • Y-SANASU doesn’t have the marketing budget to compete with rivals if they decide to go in the direction of a smear campaign.


We all agree on the need to increase the funding of public universities in Nigeria and put an end to the incessant strike actions embarked by ASUU. In a society that knows the value of education, the first three options are all it needs. In Nigeria, we have tried those options fully or sparingly with minimal effects. Perhaps, ASUU should go rogue and opt for the Political Party Solution and see how it unfolds.

If they choose to, I will revoke the self-embargo I have been observing since I last voted on June 12, 1993, and vote for Y-SANASU!


Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend