As a result of the government’s refusal to implement the agreement it reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in 2021, again, public universities in the country will be closed for another 4-weeks. The incessant strike actions by Workers’ unions in the education sector are always a result of the Federal Government (FG)’s refusal to fulfil its part of the agreement it reached with striking workers.

A few months after the ASUU strike was suspended in 2020, the universities witnessed another strike action, this time from the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU). Again, the reason is as a result of the FG’s refusal to implement the agreement it signed with the unions.

The Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) condemns in strong terms the Federal Government’s nonchalant attitude to education and its refusal to implement the agreement reached with university unions. We see this as a deliberate attempt for the ruling elites to collapse the public institutions and place the mushroom’s private universities at a better advantage and make them more attractive to prospective students while pricing education out of the wards of the working masses.

It is obvious that most private institutions in the country are either owned by politicians or are in partnership with some profiteers.

The Buhari regime has shown itself not to be different from the previous government over the neglect of the education sector and workers’ welfare. Despite warnings by the worker’s unions through a press statement of her intention to go for a warning strike to call for government attention to its plight, the Buhari regime ignored this and now the universities are back on strike.

The MSA commends ASUU over the idea of a warning strike and we urge the UNION to continue the pressure for the government to meet their demands with actions. There is therefore the need to mobilise for action across all of the workers and their Unions in the education sector for united action on all of the grievances. Such action must also consciously drum for the support of students and parents in united mass action for government to adequately use the resources of the country to publicly fund education and ensure access to quality education by all.

The Underfunding of Education and Buhari “London Promise” to Increase Funding

In the aforestated Summit, President Buhari had made a promise in the presence of other world leaders to ensure an increase in the budgetary allocation to education. The Punch newspaper quoted the President as saying “We commit to progressively increase our annual domestic education expenditure by 50 per cent over the next two years and up to 100% by 2025 beyond the 20 per cent global benchmark”. About four months after making that promise, President Buhari presented the 2022 budget to the National Assembly, which contains a 5.6 per cent budgetary allocation to education.

It is obvious that this current government is characterized by deceit and no section of the working masses should either support or defend this regime and its failed policies. Rather, we should challenge the government policies of underfunding public education. The country is rich enough and the prospect of moving away from its current status as the poverty capital of the world demands it provides the best of quality education that provides all of the needed skills for its labour force to take up the task of developing the country.

The Consequences of Underfunding Public Education

The neglect and underfunding of the higher institutions in the country is largely the cause of the collapse of basic infrastructures in our institutions. Today, most classrooms are overcrowded. As the population of the country increases, so is the increase in those seeking admission into the higher institution. But unfortunately, the infrastructure remains the same.

The laboratories are a shadow of themselves. Students learn with little or no Lab equipment in most cases. In some laboratories, cooking stoves have replaced Bunsen burners. A look at the State-owned public institution shows that they are in a sorry condition. Most of their Labs have no access to water or electricity in this modern era. The conditions are terrible nationwide.

To overcome this deficiency is not a task for workers and unions in the education sector alone. We call on students to rise against this form of abysmal funding of public universities and Polytechnics. Students should join the MSA in calling on the federal and state governments to immediately implement the agreement it entered with the university unions as well as compel the FG to improve education expenditure against the sharp rise of 62.02% illiteracy increase in Nigeria.

MSA agrees with all the demands of ASUU and we want to state that Nigeria has abundant mineral and natural resources to eradicate illiteracy. That is, if it is judiciously managed and democratically controlled by the working people, public education can be made free, qualitative, and accessible by everyone.

The government have the Resources to Fund Education and Meet the Demands of Striking Workers.

The FG always claimed to be broke and not willing to fund education. This is not true, because the same government have the resources to pay politicians jumbo salaries and allowance. Recently, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) imported fake petrol into the country and was reported by Punch that the NNPC may spend N201 billion to clean 170 million litres of the fake fuel. This is clear corruption and mismanagement of public resources. Surprisingly, this is the same amount the government agreed with ASUU in 2013 that ended the then four-month strike but to date, that agreement is yet to materialize.

To save the education sector and win the fight against the attack on workers’ welfare. We call on the various unions in the university, students, parents and the general masses to unite and struggle collectively to make it possible to defeat policies that endangered education. We commend ASUU, SSANU, and NASU for their consistency against the government policies of underfunding public education. It is in solidarity, MSA urges the University unions to build synergy with other trade unions to mount pressure on the government to implement its agreement unconditionally.

We also call on all affiliated trade unions under the NLC and TUC to give solidarity support and compel the government to invest in education as well as increase funding from the paltry 5.6% to 26% as recommended for developing nations. We also demand the nationalization of the commanding sector of the Nigerian economy placed under democratic control and management of the working people.    

If you agree join us and let’s build together in campaign and initiatives.


Aj. Dagga Tolar,

General Secretary, Movement for A Socialist Alternative, MSA-Nigeria.