Abuja, Nigeria – Nigerian teachers, who have been striking since February 14, said they are extending their strike for another two months. The teachers accuse the government of failing to honor agreed-upon benefits. Meanwhile, about eight million Nigerian students are unable to attend school.
Civil engineering student Favour Nwokeforo, who is entering his final year, had hoped for better news on Monday. With his bags packed for school, he said his hopes were dashed after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) announced the extension of its strike by eight more weeks.
‘I’m not happy,’ Nworkeforo said. ‘No student will plan a semester timetable with strikes in between, much less a final year student. We haven’t even started some courses. It’s very disappointing and I hope the strike can be resolved soonest.’
ASUU said the salary negotiations with authorities late Sunday fell through and that the extension is to enable authorities resolve the issues.
Strikes over pay are not unusual at public universities in Nigeria controlled by the government.
In 2009, ASUU and Nigerian authorities signed a $500 million agreement to end strikes in the country. The agreement was to ensure timely payment of salaries and the improvement of public schools in Nigeria.
ASUU says authorities failed to ‘satisfactorily’ meet the terms of this agreement.
The union’s chairman, Emmanuel Osodeke, could not immediately comment. But ASUU’s decision to shut down the universities is keeping nearly eight million students like Nwokeforo away from classes.
Two weeks ago, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, organized protests aimed at pushing the government and ASUU to reach a compromise.
NANS zonal leader Umar Faruq said the students will hold more street protests until ASUU and authorities settle their differences.
‘We intend to block the roads that lead to most cities of Nigeria, especially the federal capital territory (Abuja),’ Faruq said. ‘What we held last two weeks is part of the action plan.’
Nigeria’s Labor Minister Chris Ngige has said authorities already paid $230 million in earned allowances and revitalization fees to the lecturers’ union – and that the government doesn’t have any more money to pay the union.
This is the sixteenth time ASUU will be going on strike in two decades. In 2020, the union’s strike lasted nine months, the longest in recent history.