THE IMPACT OF ASUU STRIKE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA
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1.1 Background of the study
Elections are considered as cardinal and indispensable in the practiceof modern democracy. According to Nnoli (2016), election is closely tied to the growth and development of democratic political order that is generally held to be the single most important indicator of the presence or absence of democratic government”. Elections if properly organized, devoid of rigging and all forms electoral manipulations and malpractices do not only establish and entrench democracy, but confers legitimacy on the leadership that emerged from the process, the political institutions, polices and programmes that accompany such administration. Election has been defined as the manner of choice agreed upon by people out of many to occupy one or a number of positions of authority (Nnoli, 2016). Elections have always been the legitimate way of transferring power from one regime to another through ballot box. Through election, popular conduct and participation in public affairs is created in the society, Ugoh (2015). The current global emphasis on democratisation has made election an inevitable process of leadership choice and succession. Obviously, the success of every conditional democracy is tied to the integrity of electoral process while the quality of a representative government is also lived to the capacity of state to evolve viable, transparent, and trusted electoral machinery that will inspire the interest and confidence of broad spectrum of civil society and contending factions of political society (Okolie, 2007).
According to Olusola, Olalekan, Olokor and Olaleye (2019), the Independent National Electoral Commission raised the alarm that the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities would affect its preparations for the 2019 elections. ASUU had on November 5, 2018 begun an indefinite strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement three areas in the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union on September 14, 2017. The lecturers’ grouse with the Federal Government included its failure to carry out the Forensic Audit of the earned academic allowances of the lecturers since 2017 and the payment of N20bn out of an agreed N220bn annually and underfunding of the public universities. ASUU started the ongoing strike on November 5, its National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said all entreaties made to the Federal Government to honour the agreement with the union fell on deaf ears and they had no alternative but to begin the strike. It was noted that the government was not interested in public universities as the children of the top politicians and rich men in the society patronise private universities at the detriment of public institutions. Both sides have met four times without resolving the crisis, thus forcing students of public universities, who constitute the majority of INEC ad hoc staff during elections to stay at home (Olusola, Olalekan, Olokor and Olaleye, 2019).
According to Igbuzor (2018), a National Commissioner for INEC and Chairman of its Information and other Education Committee, Festus Okoye, expressed concerns about the effect of the ASUU strike on the 2019 elections during the opening of a one-day seminar on media gender sensitive reporting. The event, which was organised by INEC, was supported by the United Nations Women and the Canadian Government. The commission said that it would deploy over one million ad hoc staff made up of lecturers in federal tertiary institutions, members of the National Youth Service Corps and students of federal tertiary institutions in the elections. The categories of ad hoc staff to be used during next year’s elections would serve as Returning Officers, Collation Officers, Supervisory Presiding Officers, and Assistant Presiding Officers (Igbuzor, 2018). Okoye as stated in Igbuzor (2018), expressed fear that the elections could be impacted negatively if the strike was not urgently called off. He said, the lingering strike by ASUU will no doubt have serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections. We therefore call on ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that has led to uncertainty in the education sector. “The national interest, the interest of our democracy and the reputation of Nigeria demand the immediate resolution of the issues that led to the strike and we so urge. “It is important that students in federal tertiary institutions should and must be in school at least a month before the February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections. They are a critical resource and their absence will have adverse effects on the ad hoc requirements of INEC.” According to him, INEC believes in the doctrine of not leaving any segment of the Nigerian society behind (Igbuzor, 2018).
1.2 Statement of the problem
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the lingering strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will have serious impact on preparations for the conduct of the 2019 general election. Okoye (2018), chairman, information and voter education committee of INEC, made this known at a one-day seminar on media and gender sensitive reporting of elections in Abuja. According to Okoye, it is next to impossible for the members of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) to provide all the ad-hoc staff needs and requirements of the commission. Okoye opined that over 70 percent requirement in some states of the federation were drawn from students of federal tertiary institutions. “For the 2019 elections, INEC will recruit and deploy over one million adhoc staff made up of lecturers and students in federal tertiary institutions and corps members,” Okoye asserted. “These category of adhoc staff will serve as returning officers, collation officers, supervisory presiding officers and assistant presiding officers. “The bulk of assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students of institutions; INEC is presently organising root training for corps members and wants to begin that with students. “So it is important and imperative that they are in school a month before the election for this to happen.” Okoye, therefore, called on ASUU and the federal government to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that led to uncertainty in the education sector. Okoye said the resolution of the problems that led to the strike would be in the national interest and Nigeria’s democracy (Okoye, 2018).
1.3 Objective of the study
The general objective of this study is to examine the impact of ASUU strike on 2019 general elections.
Specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the impact of asuu strike on 2019 general elections.
- To establish the relationship between asuu strike and 2019 general elections.
- To examine the nature of Nigeria electoral process.
- To proffer ways of ending asuu strike before 2019 general elections in Nigeria.
1.4 Research questions
- What is the impact of asuu strike on 2019 general elections?
- What is the relationship between asuu strike and 2019 general elections?
- What is the nature of Nigeria electoral process?
1.5 Significance of study
The importance of this study is to contribute to the advancement of knowledge on the impact of asuu strike on 2019 general elections in Nigeria. Its findings would enable appropriate government agencies to appreciate the relevance of asuu in the general elections. Additionally, it would serve as a suggestive solution to the problems affecting Asuu in participating in the general elections. It is hoped that the study will add to existing literatures and body of knowledge on the impact of asuu strike on the general elections. Additionally, this research work would provide material for future studies on this topic.
1.6 Scope of study
The asuu strike during elections period was a source of concern to Nigerians as it determines the quality of political leadership. This study will look at the impact of asuu strike on 2019 general elections in Nigeria. Similarly, it will examine Nigeria’s electoral process and establish the relationship between asuu strike and 2019 general elections.
This study had some limitations. The major limitation of this study is the use of data generated only from the 2019 general elections. Also, in the course of data gathering it was observed that some few respondents introduced some elements of bias, falsehood and emotions into their responses which gave some extra ordinary results in few isolated cases.