The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) wishes to express its support for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.
The IHRHL observes that the standard of education has experienced a free fall in the past decade due to gross neglect of the education sector by the government, poor remuneration of lecturers, inadequate infrastructure, poor teaching methods to mention a few. In the light of the foregoing, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a strike to press home their demands for increased government commitment in the educational sector.
The IHRHL notes that contrary to what the Executive Governor of Rivers State would have us believe; the ongoing ASUU strike is not just about increase in Lecturer’s salaries, rather it is an agitation for a full package that seeks to improve the standard of education in Nigeria. Thus, recent utterances by the Executive Governor of Rivers State to mobilise one million youths against the lecturers is an insult on the efforts of the Lecturers to improve the diminishing standard of education in Nigeria and is capable of instigating violence in an already overheated environment.
The IHRHL further observes that it is rather appalling that the present strike is being allowed to drag on in a state like Rivers State where the government had consistently and continuously boasted to the electorates that it has revamped the educational sector in less than three years. More atrocious though is the fact that the State University of Science and Technology has fallen behind other Universities because of incessant strikes occasioned by the failure of the government to meet their demands.
The IHRHL further notes that some of the components of the realisation of the right to education as enshrined by the African Charter on Human and people’s rights is the provision of an enabling environment for learning, provision of basic infrastructure like laboratories, libraries and ensuring that the teachers are adequately motivated. Thus, when students are meant to stay at home because of the inability of the government to adequately motivate their lecturers, their right to education is being breached.
The IHRHL wonders why implementing the salary agreement is such a difficult thing for a state like Rivers State that has received Federal Allocations amounting to over Five Hundred Billion Naira from January 2008 to June 2010. Furthermore, the IHRHL notes that some states with lesser revenue have implemented the agreement. To this end, the IHRHL supports the ongoing ASUU Strike and calls on the State Government to match its rhetoric with words and meet the demands of the Lecturers in order to save the ailing education sector. The IHRHL further urges the ASUU not to give in to threats and intimidations by the government, rather they should continue with their struggle until their demands are met.
Nkasi Wodu Esq.
Program Officer ESC Rights Unit
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)