Effects Of Democracy And Labour Unrest On Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Effects Of Democracy And Labour Unrest On Nigerian Tertiary Institutions


Democracy all over the world till date has been a great catalyst to development in most countries where it is sincerely practiced. This is as a result of its principles which highly encourage development. On the other hand, trade union in most cases thrives in such a democratic state. This by so doing gives employers and labour that unhindered opportunity to vent their anger or expression to the government without fear of intimidation.

The university system in this case being the highest level of education in any country in the world has a major role to play in the development of the state. This is made possible by training members of the state in areas which can be more beneficial to the growth of the state. Labour on the other hand gathers themselves together to form groups of like trades so as to help protect their own interest in the course of carrying out their duties. They are called trade unions among which we can find the academic staff union of universities (ASUU).

This study therefore examined the effects of Democracy and labour unrest on Nigeria tertiary institutions using ASUU’s activities in recent times as a case study. In the process of the investigation, the study considered the effectiveness of the nation’s universities (which includes the federal and states owned universities) under a democratic rule. It further reflect on the impact of the unending labour unrest between ASUU and the federal government on the students and the nation at large.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Nigeria experience with democracy has been epileptic since 1960 when she got her independence from the British Administration in the first of October, 1999 will be the third attempt (i.e if the third republic of 1993 is excluded, as it was abolished even before it started) in coming to grasp with democratic ethos. Today, Nigeria has put behind her the ugly past, filled with many years of military rule which resulted to tyranny and dictatorship.

Democracy has been a popular system of governance in virtually many parts of the world today. This is based on the principles inherent in the practice among which is the freedom of association (provided that it does not pose a threat to the peaceful co-existence of all). Trade union on the other hand, is one of such legal association which allows for workers to come together as one, to force employers of labour to yield to their demands for better working conditions.

Furthermore, workers constitute the largest single force in industries and as such, it is when workers come together in common action that they can conveniently change the dominance of employers. The situation necessitates the formation of trade union hence, there is always the need for formation of trade union.

Hence, there is always the need for labour to check the on-slaught of capital which is a basic reason for workers to associate in trade unions.

The academic staff union of universities (ASUU) is one of the many trade unions in Nigeria. It is the combination of all Nigeria universities teachers both in the federal and state levels. The union which was formed in 1978 was a successor to the Nigerian Association of University Teachers which was formed 1965. ASUU’S predecessor was basically covering academic staff in the University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) and University of Lagos.

In recent times, history has shown that the Union (ASUU) was active in the struggle against the military regime during the 1980’s. In 1988 the Union organized a national strike to obtain fair wages and university autonomy. As a result, the ASUU was proscribed on August 7, 1988 and all its property seized. More other strike actions were embarked upon by the union. It is believed that all the strike actions during the military era by ASUU were linked to the struggle for democracy and in condemnation of the military despotic administration.

After the return to democracy in 1999 with the Nigerian fourth republic, the union continued to be militant in demanding the rights of university teachers against opposition by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. In July 2002, Dr. Oladipe Fashina, National President of ASUU petitioned Justice Mustapha Akanbi of the Independent corrupt practices commission to investigate the authorities of the University of Ilorin for financial mismanagement and corruption.

In 2007, the ASUU went on strike for three months. In May 2008, the ASUU held two one week “Warning Strike” to press a range of demands, including an improved salary scheme and reinstatement of 49 lecturers who were dismissed many years ago. In June 2009 the ASUU ordered its members in federal and state universities nationwide to proceed on an indefinite strike over disagreements with the federal governments on the agreement it reached with the union about some years ago. After three months of strikes, in October 2009 the ASUU and other staff unions signed a memorandum of understanding with the government and called off the industrial action.

Going by all the actions and reactions of ASUU during the military era and presently in the democratic dispensation, one will say that ASUU has been effective in the military administration and more effective in the democratic system. This is so because democracy as a system of government strongly supports trade unionism. We should not also forget the fact that ASUU’s activities verses the government has an effect on the students (undergraduates) with whom the key to the nations development lies.

These effects of ASSU’s activities vis-à-vis government loggerhead are going to be emphasized upon. Thus, this research work will lay great emphasis on ASUU’s activities from 1999 to 2010 with respect to the effects of its actions on tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Also, greater emphases will be laid on the students who happen to be the sole reason why these higher institutions were created in order to foster the development of human capital.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

With the change of the system of government to democracy in Nigeria, which is a world wide system of government today, trade union has been pro-active, as they are now unchained from their shackles to carry out their functions. In carrying out these functions, a method in most time is being adopted to give a speedy response to their demands (i.e through strike).

In view of this, this project work looks at graduates underperformance in the labour market which are caused by a host of factors. It also highlights the increase rate of crime among undergraduates.

Further still, the unending strike actions embarked upon by ASUU from the fourth republic (1999) to the sixth republic (2010) was also emphasized upon which was believed to be a bane of poor performance of graduates in the labour market and high level of brain drain in the nation.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The aim and objective of this study was to critically evaluate democracy and labour unrest as they affect the tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria with reference to the academic staff union of universities (ASUU) and how its union activities can affect, positively or negatively, the standard of education in the Ivory tower (tertiary institution). Other objectives include;

  1. Identity the effects of ASUU strike actions on student performance.
  2. Find out if the increase in crime rate among undergraduates can be linked to the many months of strike actions.
  3. Investigate the relationship between the effectiveness of ASUU during democratic rule and military rule.
  4. Provide suggestions and recommendation for arresting the decline in the standard of education at the tertiary level.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were of immense importance in researching the above problems:-

  1. H0: Labour unrest has no significant effect on graduates’ performance in the labour markets.
    Hi: Labour unrest has significant effect on graduates’ performance in the labour markets.
  2. Ho: There is no relationship between ASUU unending labour unrest and democracy.
    Hi: There is a relationship between ASUU unending labour unrest and democracy.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The result of this study would improve the effectiveness of universities’ contributions to the development of Nigeria. This would be made possible by producing pro-active university graduates who are the major catalyst for the development of any nation.

Also, since education is a serious business which needs serious mind to handle; this work would help profer solution to the incessant industrial actions that have been seen as a norm in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Further still, research has shown that one of the key contributors to the brain drain syndrome among lecturers is the issue of strikes and government bad policies. This work will help create an awareness to this beast (brain drain) that has made many good lecturers and students leave the shores of our country in pursuits of better life in the Westerns World, thereby profer solution to it.

It is hoped that the findings of this study would provoke further research in the nearest future.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is primary concerned with effects of democracy and labour unrest on Nigerian tertiary institution. This study/project work covers Lagos States University (LASU) chapter of ASUU. The researcher encountered some constraints, which limited the scope of the study. These constraints include but are not limited to the following;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

1.7 Definitions of Terms

Conceptual clarification is a major requirement for any scientific or empirical research, it lays the basis for outright understanding for major concepts that will be used, this is because concepts are the “building block” of any given discipline.

The following concepts therefore need operational clarification:-

A. Democracy:

Adams Oshiomhole (2000) sees democracy as an imperative necessity for sustaining an enduring national development and stability. In other words, democracy is not all about periodic elections; it must be sustained through active participation for it to survive.

B. Labour Unrest:

Labour unrest is a term used by employers or those generally in the business community to describe strike actions. This is a period when employees refuse to work in order to press on their demands from the employers.

C. Trade Union:

According to T.M Yesufu (1965), trade union is an organization of employee for the promotion and defence of the terms and condition of employment of their members including the standard of living.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concerned with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain a critical analysis of effects of democracy and labour unrest on Nigerian tertiary institutions.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations are made, which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefit in addressing the challenges of effects of democracy and labour unrest on Nigerian tertiary institutions.

5.2 Summary

This study aimed at havinga critical analysis of effects of democracy and labour unrest on Nigerian tertiary institutions. Four objectives were raised. These objectives include: Identity the effects of ASUU strike actions on student performance, Find out if the increase in crime rate among undergraduates can be linked to the many months of strike actions, investigate the relationship between the effectiveness of ASUU during democratic rule and military rule, Provide suggestions and recommendation for arresting the decline in the standard of education at the tertiary level.

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the above findings pertaining to the objectives of the study the following conclusions are drawn.
The findings of this study validated the fact that different strategies were being adopted by academic staff of Nigerian universities on one hand and government or university management on the other hand. The implication is that the strategies adopted by these parties are largely dependent on the situation at hand. The empirical findings in this study indicated that the academic staff scored integrating strategies as one of the least adopted strategies. The implication is that on many occasions, the two parties are not in agreement on getting solutions that will be beneficial to them.

5.3 Recommendation

There is the need for the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian universities (ASUU) to continue to clarify issues with the government in order to find acceptable solutions during conflict situations. In a situation where the issue of conflict is trivial, it is advisable for ASUU to advocate policies that could be suggested to the government. The Union may also need to foster their efforts towards working with the government or offer suggestions that will help to find solutions to problems thereby facilitating government efforts towards meeting their needs.

Government is encouraged to continue to embrace openness, dialogue and other multidimensional approaches in industrial relations. In addition, the outcomes or the agreements reached during dialogue should be respected and implemented. For example, government’s decision to attend to the pressing needs based on NEEDS assessment should be implemented. According to Oni-Ojo and Roland-Otaru (2013), conflict is considered a significant threat to sustainable development and if not properly managed can hinder the process of sustainable development. Therefore, there is the serious need for government to try and resolve conflicts if national development is to be attained.

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