history of asuu strike

On February 14th, 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ordered its members across universities in the country to proceed on a one-month warning strike which was eventually extended by eight weeks when all efforts to negotiate with the Federal Government broke down. When the eight weeks ended without any breakthrough in the negotiation, the union declared an indefinite strike, in a bid to compel the government to pay attention to its demand and fulfil the obligations contained in an agreement they had earlier signed.

Background to the ASUU strike

The 2022 strike is not the first of its kind as an average Nigerian who passed through the public university system in recent years would have likely been forced to sit at home for several weeks, or months due to the incessant strike embarked upon by the union.

In an interview with Grace Edema of The Punch, Professor Victor Emmanuel Osodeke, the President of the Union stated that, “…any day we stop fighting for the system, between two or three years, Nigerian universities will be like primary and secondary schools you have today where the teachers refuse to fight and all the children have left public primary and secondary schools for private. If we stop fighting today, within the next five years, we will be like the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.” This statement has been the basis of university lecturers’ struggle over the years: to protect the educational sector, which is the bedrock of any nation that intends to experience sustainable development.

Brief history of ASUU strike

ASUU was formed in 1978 as an offshoot of the National Association of University Teachers (NAUT), to be an umbrella body to cater for the needs of university lecturers across the country. The Union declared its first strike in 1988 to ensure the government pays its members fair wages and also obtain university autonomy. This action was followed by an order on the 7th of August 1988 through which the union was proscribed by the Ibrahim Babangida administration.

The proscription was lifted in 1990 and the Union reached an agreement with the Federal Government that addressed most of the demands of the union. Shortly after the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration was inaugurated in 1999, ASUU went on a nationwide strike to express its grievances over the failure of the Federal Government to reach a workable agreement with the union on the working conditions in universities across the country.

In 2001, 49 lecturers were sacked at the University of Ilorin on allegations of engaging in union activities of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). This action led to another 3 months of shutdown by the union to ensure the reinstatement of the lecturers. The lecturers were eventually reinstated in 2009 by an order of the Supreme Court.

In 2002, the union also went on two weeks strike to protest the failure of the Federal Government to implement the previous agreement. This was followed by six months strike over poor funding of universities in 2003, and another two weeks strike in 2005.

On March 26th 2007, the union went on another strike which lasted for three months.

In 2008, the union declared a warning strike for one week to request an improvement in the salary structure and overall welfare of the members. This was in addition to the call for the reinstatement of the 49 lecturers who were sacked at the University of Ilorin.

In June 2009, the union went on a strike which lasted for four months to agitate for the implementation of its agreement with the Federal Government. The outcome of the strike which ended in October 2009 was the signing of another which became known as the FG/ASUU 2009 Memorandum of Action. Interestingly, the subsequent industrial actions of the union since 2009 had been targeted towards the implementation of the popular 2009 agreement. Click here to read the 2009 agreement.

In 2010 and 2011, the union went 5 months and 59 days strike respectively to begin the demand for the implementation of the 2009 agreement. The 2013 strike which commenced on July 1st lasted for 5 months and 15 days and was called off on 17th December 2013. The basis of the strike was the call for the government to improve the funding of the educational sector, especially universities, by increasing the budgetary allocation channelled towards the sector.


University students across were already getting accustomed to life without interruption in the academic calendar when ASUU declared another strike on August 17, 2017. The strike which lasted for one month was to remind the Federal Government of the commitment made to the union which was yet to be fulfilled.

The union went on for another 3 months strike in November 2018 which ended in February 2019 after the Government was able to enter another agreement with the union, known as the 2019 agreement. The failure of the Federal Government to honour the 2019 agreement was the genesis of the industrial action declared by the union in 2020 which lasted for 9 months, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the union embarked on strike in February 2022, there have been calls from several quarters of the country for the warring factions to find common ground in the interest of the students who were at home for several months. Moreso, many graduates were unable to proceed with the pursuit of their post-graduate studies in foreign countries due to the failure to access their transcripts.

The union put an end to its eight months strike on October 14, 2023. According to the National President of the Union, Emmanuel Osodeke in an interview on Channels Television, “…the major reason we are resuming is because we are obeying the industrial court’s judgment. The issues have not been fully resolved and no agreements signed. We are resuming because we are a law-abiding organisation and we don’t want to break the law…So, the issues have not been resolved but we would resume because of that court injunction.”

The issue of when a conclusive agreement that would birth a final solution to the dispute between the government and the union has left much to be desired. It is expected that both parties reach a consensus, in the best interest of the students, who are majorly affected by the strike.


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