THE INFLUENCE OF STRIKE ACTION ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENT IN NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
University worldwide is regarded as the citadel of knowledge, the fountain of intellectual, the most appropriate ground for the incubation for tomorrow’s leader.
A university fulfils one major knowledge (Ike, 2001). It is a knowledge and value provider. It stands or falls in its ability or inability to deliver on this criterion. Magna carta universitum, “The university is an autonomous institution at the heart of societies differently organised because of geographically and historical heritage, it produces, examines, appraises and hands down culture by research and is an enterprise that serves multidisciplinary purposes. This according to (Nwankwo, 2004) explains why merit has been the watchword in the university system – a system a student must first be certified worthy in character and learning before being admitted into the Honours Degree Hall. Universities are key author in national development, more so in Africa than in other regions. Their roles in research and this explains why the Federal Government of Nigeria is acknowledging the university as a fulcrum for national development, set up a commission headed by Chief Gray Longe 1992 to review higher education in Nigeria with particular reference to universities in Nigeria. The commission was given terms of reference amongst which were:
Ø To re-examine the developmental roles of universities in developmental roles of universities in developing countries such as Nigeria.
Ø Determine the middle and higher level manpower supply and demand of the country and advice in the area of under/over population and under/over utilization of the same.
Ø Examine the availability and adequacy of academic staff in universities.
Ø Investigates the nature, sources and criteria of funding in higher education institutions. (especially universities) with a view to improving the situation and guaranteeing steady source of funds for optimal functional of these institutions.
Ø Review the general condition of staff in higher educational institutions such as salaries, pensions and retirement benefit, housing of the public service and private sector and particularly to stemming the brain phenomenon.
Ø Review the criteria for appointment of administration, including the Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, Rectors, Registrars, and other Principal Officers, their term of office and the process of renewal of their appointment. The commission held special sessions with a number of eminent personalities and educationist from whose knowledge and experience of the educational system in Nigeria it benefited immensely.
Finally, the commission defined higher education as the type of education in higher educational institution especially in universities, which produce high level and middle level manpower, but not specialized set up by professional bodies.
The commission also noted that the goals and objectives among others include: teaching research and public service. The commission observed that Nigerian universities had established standard comparable to the best in other parts of the world. The commission, however, frowned at the discovery that the following physical conditions are still the trademarks of the Nigerian universities;
· Dilapidated workshops equipment in most of the higher institutions.
· Inadequate facilities such as libraries, lecture rooms, laboratories and work farms.
The commission was also appalled by the fact that universities have not achieved much in terms of the goals and objectives for which they were set up, owing to incessant disruption in the academic flow chart caused by strike actions, industrial unrest, students hooliganism, political instability, etc.
Based on these discoveries, the commission recommended among others, that;
§ The university education as the apex of the system of higher education should play a leadership role in the nation providing people of special qualification and motivation;
§ Universities education is not a means to earn a living. It should also equip the individual to the highest level of his ability with the intellectual and physical skills which he requires to be an innovative, creative and self-reliant member of the society.
§ The university, because of its key role in the overall economy should always encourage and facilitate industrial harmony and provide a conducive atmosphere for learning and attainment of other goals and objectives.
The government on its part accepted these recommendations and thus, commented as follows: -
· That university should undertake periodic reviews of programmes and activities to meet national priority goals as defined from time to time.
· In order to develop closer academic/industrial relationship and also ensure that the programmes of tertiary institutions are relevant to the needs of the industry and the national economy, there should be regular interaction between the institutions, the employers of their products and the National Manpower Board.
· To encourage industrial harmony in the higher educational institution by passing laws that will preserve the rights of various interest groups within the university system, especially organized trade unions and employers associated.
This is however, the general picture of the events that surrounds the university system in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over the last thirty years in Nigeria, the educational system has witnessed an unprecedented industrial unrest and so many official assaults than other social institutions. Nwankwo, (2000) opined that Nigeria educational institutions, characterized by military intervention in governance have witnessed untold negative political interference and a seeming calculated moves to submerge it in the river of irrelevance. He further argued that those in authorities see universities as a burden and as institutions to be exploited and left desolated. Consequents upon this Ures (a process of closure), non-payment development, our universities he posited, have become aberrations of themselves. The manifestation are in form of cultism, brain drain underfunding by government, erosion of academic freedom, general insecurity, dilapidated he structures, non-payment of university staff salaries Onuoha (2008), this is so, because of its strategic place both in the nation’s hierarchy of priorities and its considered role as a veritable machine for development. In his own contribution. These are indications that all is not well with the Nigeria university system.
ASUU went on strike on 27th June, 2009 in protest against non implementation of agreement against signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria. In a press briefing on 30th August in Calabar, ASUU president, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie accused the Minister of Education of not presenting the true facts concerning government’s handling of the issues that led to the strike. He expressed regret that the minister claimed in his reaction to the strike, that there was no agreement between the federal government the union (ASUU) and that the government need to review the agreement because of the global economic meltdown. He said the minister also claimed that government was not properly briefed during the negotiations and that the strike action by ASUU would further reduce the quality of education, which the union claimed that it was fighting to improve.
Awuzie described the minister’s remarks as “particularly vexations and unfortunate” as the federal government was responsible for the strike action, which has thrown the university system into another turmoil. He said contrary to the minister’s assertion, there was an agreement reached between the federal government and the union (ASUU). On May 12, 2009 and government invitation, they assembled at the NUC to sign the agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and ASUU. He said the union is on strike “to persuade government to be serious by signing the agreement already reached”. According to him, the touted N78billion is actually the shortfall in the amount needed to fund personnel emoluments arising from the various agreements which government has reached with all federal tertiary institution in the country.
He said it was therefore not true that N78billion was needed to fund the FGN/ASUU agreement as claimed by the minister. “It was an assertion meant to politicize the issues, deceive and hoodwink the Nigerian people. By the way, is it not a crying shame that our government finds the same N78billion too much to spend over a period of time to revamp the educational system? Yet, the same government wastes millions of naira on frivolities”, he said.
He added that even though the present government touts education as one of the issues in the seen-agenda, the allocation to education in the 2009 budget betrayed its lack commitment to the education of Nigerians. The ASUU president further argued, “ASUU believes that with an average of N120billion earned from oil each day, government should be able to fund education effectively. If it considers this impossible, the money should be enough to increase access to education by a greater majority of our people. We cannot aspire to being one of the developed economies by 2020, if the bulk of our citizenry remain uneducated as is the case today”. He however, assured that the union will call off the strike as soon as the federal government signs the agreement reached with the lecturers. ASUU strike ended on October 22nd, 2009 by 8:10pm.
· To find ways of improving such deteriorated relationship in order to move the education industry forward.
· To find the causes of the deterioration in relationship between the labour and management.
The effects of strike action are far-reaching, for they disturb the economic, education social and political life of a country. The most visible effect of the strike on student is the elongation of academic session, low intelligent quotient, commonality etc. Of course, these are the effects that are sought for going on strike in the first place. It should be noted that whether the strike is successful or not, these damages have already been done.
The government as the co-ordinator of the several activities of the state has explicit objectives in industrial relations. For instance, the state’s objectives in industrial relations include the maximization of social benefits, and the minimization of social costs. The ultimate effect is the maximization of economic growth and development for the nation. The strike disrupts the achievement of some of these objectives.
The public society, too, is not spared, strike action creates law and order problems, necessitating increased vigilance on the part of the state. Further, even when disputes are settled, strike and bitterness continue to linger, endangering social relations. The employers suffer heavy losses, not only through stoppages of production, reduction in sales and loss of markets but also in the form of huge expenditure.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine the effects of strike action in Nigerian universities while the specific objectives are as follows: -
1. To determine the major causal factors of strike in Nigerian universities.
2. To examine the level of government intervention on strike related issues in Nigerian universities.
3. To examine the latent effect of strike actions on student year on campus.
4. To know the strategies used by the government in solving strike related issues in the Nigerian university system.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The researcher has mentioned the objective and formulated the following research questions:
1. Why do the university products embark on strike action?
2. What are the likely causes of strike action in the Nigerian university system?
3. What are the consequences or implications of strike action in the Nigerian university system?
4. What are the strategies used by government in solving strike issues in Nigerian universities?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following hypothesis is related to the study
H0: There is no significant relationship between strike action and the academic calendar of Nigerian universities.
H1: There is a significant relationship between strike action and the academic calendar of Nigerian universities.
H0: Strike actions in Nigerian universities is not a product of financial crisis
H1: Strike action in Nigerian universities is a product of financial crisis
H0: Strike actions does not help the demand of the university product.
H1: Strike action help the demand of the university product.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
A study on industrial relations would not only be beneficial to the state, employers of labour and employees but to the society as a whole. Labour issues have bearing with integrated national planning. It contributes to manpower development and harmonized industrial relations, which promotes rapid economic development. Besides, a peaceful industrial atmosphere is required to actualize the noble objectives for which universities were set or established to achieve. The research work is significant in a number of ways, which includes:
· With the introduction of the concept of management in industrial disputes/strike action, the research has contributed to the pod of knowledge already available and therefore adding to the existing literature.
· Following the discovery of a fault in the process of collective bargaining, it will spur and support other researchers in the area of collective bargaining.
· The study is significant to university management who are now in vantage position to apply management by consultation in all issues involving labour.
· The study is significant to the state and federal government who will appreciate that the inability to implement the joint decisions reached has been a source of dispute in the university system.
· The study would also benefit labour union that in the course of this research would understand that even though their demands are imperative in line with the economic realities, must consider the lean resources of the state and the position of management before embarking on strike under a democratic setting, industrial relations is a different issue.
Democracy promoter’s freedom guarantee conducive atmosphere for expression of feelings. But such rights should not be abused or suppressed into witch hunting for selfish interests. We must demand for what is right so long as it is within the labour laws and what is right must be done so long as it within the state resources.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study is the research boundary. This research focuses on how strike actions and boycotts affects students academic performance in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Emphasis is laid on the management of industrial disputes with a view to identifying the causes, the dimensions and socio-economic implications of strike actions in our institutions.
The scope of the study will be limited to universities in Ogun State. The research work will pay attention to Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun and Federal University of Abeokuta both in Ogun State.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Hardly would a research study be concluded without constraints. In a country such as ours where bureaucracy in the flow of information and where there is inaccurate data and statistics, there really has to be a problem. Specific instances of constraints related to the data system would include; Low quality data and inadequate recording devices, lack of standardization in data recording and formats, inadequate data collection and handling procedure, lack of research skills, privacy of information considerations, budgetary limitations and lack of incentives and motivation.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Boycott:This means refusal of wage earners to have dealings with or to patronize, a business organization when there is an organized labour grievance.
Employee: This is any person who is not a manager and who works for another in any organization for fixed wages.
Industrial Relations: A tripartite relationship involving three parties namely: - the owner of work, the employees or their representatives and government agency for the purpose of setting job rules and regulations.
Employer:This means the owner(s) of work. This can be business owners, organization, partnership, sole proprietorship, private or public limited company, government, etc.
Strike action:This is what happens when a group of employees conduct a work stoppage which will affect the condition of the job generally.
Picketing:This means the action of striking workers to prevent other persons from taking their places in the establishment and induce their colleagues who have not joined the strike action to do so.
Lock-out:This is the employer’s action of closing a business enterprise for the purpose of enforcing a demand on the employees by causing them to be thrown out of work.