1. The Joint Action Front (JAF) applauds the public spirited principles and the steadfastness of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in its courageous and selfless struggle for adequate funding of public university education, including a properly run university system, academic freedom and a legitimate and commensurate welfare package for its members, all which are the basis for the strike of the union, which lasted the past eight months, because of the irresponsibility of the Government to address the issues.
2. JAF equally commends the students and the general public for standing with ASUU while the strike lasted. The demands of the strike are in the defence of public university education and access by all qualified students regardless of the economic status of their parents.
3. We note that while the Buhari Government is yet to satisfactorily address the demands of ASUU, however, the strike has compelled the regime to vote money in the proposed 2023 budget towards the revitalization of public universities. However, we note that what was voted in the budget is just a fraction of what the demands of ASUU are in the interest of public university education.
4. JAF wants to seize this opportunity to alert the general public that without a further struggle to compel the Government to implement what has been voted into the 2023 Budget for the University system, the Government may not even implement it. Therefore, Nigerians should see it as not the duty of only the ASUU, but also of other unions and the larger society, including the students and the entire Labour movement to force the government to actually release the fund for funding public university education! And at the same time, JAF urges Nigerians to insist on democratic management of the fund, involving elected representatives of all the staff unions and students, in order to ensure its judicious use.
5. We hold that the struggle for adequate funding of the public University system is non-negotiable, especially, against the background of the growing stridence of the plan by the ruling class of looters, who, irrespective of their political parties, are bent on pricing university education out of the reach of students from working class and poor families. The intention of every anti-poor and capitalist government is to enforce full commercialisation of the University system, including the introduction of tuition fees and introduction of all manners of exploitative levies. It is the struggle of ASUU over the years, especially since the return to civil rule in 1999, which coincides with the deepening of the anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist agenda, together with pockets of resistance by students in some universities, that has made pubic university education affordable for students from the poor and working class background.
6. As we have already noted that the demands of ASUU have not been met. Therefore, we bring to public attention once again the issues that led the suspended strike, which have not been satisfactorily addressed. They are as follows:
(I) Fund for revitalization of public universities,
(II) Earned Academic Allowances,
(III) Proliferation of public universities,
(IV) Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers, v. University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative payment platform in the university system
(V) Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement.
7. JAF therefore, given that this Government, rather than to begin to address the germane demands of ASUU, following the suspension of the strike, may likely recluse to its non-concomitant and irresponsible trademark, calls on the NLC, TUC, students and the general public to mount a sustained pressure on the government to accede to the demands of ASUU and other unions, including entering into negotiations with the unions in obedience of the principles of collective bargaining.
8. Finally, JAF wishes to reiterate its consistent CLARION to NIGERIANS on the imperative necessity to struggle for SYSTEM CHANGE. This is to put an END to this unjust system of capitalism and its failed policies of Privatization, Deregulation, Devaluation, and the reign of looting, debt burden and exploitation, etc, subscribed to by all sections of the capitalist ruling elite and their political parties. It is only a JUST SYSTEM that can ensure that the wealth of the country is judiciously used to benefit the working people and the oppressed poor including adequate funding of public education at all levels.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO VICTORY!
Comrade ACHIKE CHUDE, JAF Deputy Chairperson
Comrade ABIODUN AREMU, JAF Secretary