The Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities(ASUU) is a trade union and a union of intellectuals seeking not only the socio-political and economic/welfare interest of its members within the framework of promoting the cause of university education in Nigeria, but the entire good of Nigerians and Nigeria. The Academic Staff Union of Universities transformed into its present state in 1978 with its roots and various transformations dating back to 1955 when the association of University Teachers (AUT) was formed. Today ASUU is synonymous with struggles. ASUU’s main points of struggle have been for adequate funding, improved salary package, autonomy and academic freedom in order to curb brain drain and ensure the survival of the university system.
The major gains of ASUU struggles particularly in the last two decades or so may be broadly categorized into the intangible and tangible gains. Part of the former relates to the deepening and sustenance of democracy through principled resistance of impunity, violations of autonomy and academic freedom and mobilization of civil society against dictatorship. In the era of military rule, ASUU demystified regimes and therefore laid the foundations for popular resistance by a society
That had been conquered. ASUU has consistently utilised opportunities provided by NEC meetings and “state of the nation publications” to appraise the public issues of national import. Through this, ASUU has prevented the complete takeover of the country by the World Bank and IMF by revealing the lies in the various agenda couched in economic programmes, loan regimes and development frameworks with beautiful acronyms designed to conceal the real motives of exploitation and enslavement. The union has successfully prevented the commercialization of public universities through cunning and crafty terminologies like appropriate pricing and cost sharing, which infact are indirect ways of introducing tuition. ASUU’s opposition to tuition is a principled one guided by its constitution, the need to ensure equity in access and participation as well as to ensure the emergence of a well informed and integrated society. The tangible gains are too numerous to recount . We must however begin with the substantial minimization of impunity, interference and subversion of academic freedom and autonomy particularly in Federal universities. The reversal of the dissolution of councils of Federal universities because of AUU’s insistence that council must be allowed to serve out their terms instead of the subsisting practice where their tenure was at the pleasure of the visitor. The new autonomy bill has arisen from 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement. We are also aware of the fact that the selection of Vice-Chancellors is now largely the business of the council. We are however disturbed by the failure of integrity that has greeted the process in many campuses due to brazen incursion of ethnicity, Religion,influence of cartels and politicians disguised in various garbs. This is one of the greatest challenges confronting the system today and it clearly defines the new frontiers of our struggle to protect the university idea. Education Tax Fund now known as Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Needs Assessment Intervention Fund are part of the tangible gains.
ASUU Nnamdi Azikiwe University (ASUU NAU) was a transformation of ASUU of the defunct Anambra State University of science and Technology (ASUU ASUTECH) which started in 1982bwith then Dr. Cyprian Oyeka (presently Prof I.C.A Oyeka) as pioneer chairman. Nnamdi Azikiwe University has always been part of ASUU and has actively participated in struggles for the revitalization of the Nigerian University system until the year 2000 when by default it painfully lost the trust of the nation through unaccountable leadership and was suspended. ASUU NAU was in the wilderness until the year 2012 when the sacrificial efforts of committed comrades, restored the branch to the nation with professor Ike Odimegwu as chairperson. The coming back of ASUU to Nnamdi Azikiwe University has no doubt deepened the university culture of pluralism of ideas, restored voice to the academic and indeed the entire staff of the university, and is improving the ethics , ethos and ideals of the university. The dialogical relationship presently existing among the council, Administration and ASUU NAU is rubbing off positively in the university and can get better.