Group seeks UN intervention in ASUU strike

File photo of ASUU meeting with the Nigerian govt delegation prior to a warning strike
File photo of ASUU meeting with the Nigerian govt delegation prior to a warning strike

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it has appealed to two UN special rapporteurs urging them to prevail on the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reach a truce and end the ongoing strike.

The appeal was reportedly sent to Koumbou Boly Barry, special rapporteur on the right to education and Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on December 28.

ASUU embarked on strike November 4 over the poor funding of Nigerian universities and non-implementation of previous agreements by the government.

The strike which is close to two months has generated lots of criticisms as both parties are yet to make substantial progress in negotiations.

Meanwhile, the ASUU recently said it will not honour further calls by the federal government for meetings to end the faceoff.

On December 12, the polytechnic lecturers upped the ante by joining their university colleagues on strike.

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In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Sunday evening and signed by senior legal adviser, SERAP, Bamisope Adeyanju, he said the Nigerian government “has defied and breached the explicit requirements of the right to equal access to higher education by Nigerian children and young people, under article 13(2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights due to their failure to prevent and end the ongoing strike action by ASUU”

According to him, without the urgent intervention of the special rapporteurs, the ongoing strike action by ASUU would continue and this would continue to impede access to university education for the poor and marginalised.

SERAP urged the rapporteurs to put pressure on the Nigerian government to increase funding and improve investments in infrastructure and innovation for public universities,

“Nigeria should also invest the most in those whose access to education is the most hampered; declare education as an essential service in Nigeria to minimise the negative impact of strike action on the right to higher education, including university education,” the organisation said.

He said the failure by the Nigerian government to reach an agreement with ASUU has also made access to higher education a privilege of the rich and well-to-do rather than a right of every Nigerian child and young person.

“The ongoing strike action by ASUU is a fundamental breach of the right to higher education without discrimination or exclusion, as strike actions continue to penalise economically disadvantaged parents who have no means or lack the capacity to pay to send their children to private schools,” he said

He said persistent strikes have continued to cause disruption of classes and undermine quality and duration of students’ education.

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“We note that the right to strike is one of the fundamental means available to workers to promote their interests,” he said. “However, we are seriously concerned that the failure by both the Nigerian government and ASUU has undermined the right of Nigerian children and young people to higher education.”

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