By Bala Ibrahim
I had stayed clear from comments over the protracted protest of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on purpose, because I have many friends in academia, some of whom may not be happy with my position, which is almost always completely against them.
Yes, as far as this particular strike of ASUU is concerned, the leaders of the union have been insensitive to situations, and from the look of things, having angered the government, the parents, and the students entrusted to them, they seem set to anger Allah, the maker of the union and its members.
I don’t know what chance ASUU stands against kismet, but the leaders are acting at variance with the thinking of those who reckon with nemesis.
It may be recalled that, on Monday, February 14, 2022, ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike, blaming the government for failure to meet some of its pressing demands, amongst which are the release of the earned allowances for lecturers, deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of lecturers, the release of revitalization funds for universities, as well as what they call, poor funding of public universities.
From the very beginning, many were sympathetic to ASUU, especially with regard to the issues of the revitalization funds for universities, and that poor funding of public universities. These are genuine and germane demands that should be supported by all education enthusiasts because it is the duty of every responsible parent to support the learning of their children.
By the same token, it is the duty of every responsible teacher to partner with parents in order to extend learning beyond the classroom. And these can only happen, where there is a tripartite arrangement between the teacher, the parent and the students, to seek the source of funds for the success of the mission.
So, when sometimes towards the end of last year, the Federal government said it was in the process of disbursing N30 billion as revitalization fund to public universities, the news was received with joy by everyone that has interest in education.
We all know that poor funding has a negative effect on the opportunities for students to meet their academic potential. Lack of funding means the students would not be able to invest in what matters for them. But the question is, in the search for such funds, must we be engaged in egotism and self-absorption?
A reasonable mind would say NO, but for reasons best known to them, ASUU, under the leadership of Professor Victor Emmanuel Osodeke, is compelling everyone to conclude that the answer is YES.
For reasons of time and space, this article cannot give details on the series of meetings held between ASUU and the Federal government, nor can it comment much on the outcomes of such meetings, but it can say something about the anguish of parents, and the agony of the students, who have been harmed, and academically injured, because of what is perceived as undue pride on the side of the leadership of ASUU. Hence the question, Is ASUU asking for the anger of ALLAH?
People are particularly questioning the reason behind the insistence of ASUU to have their own invention of UTAS, as the system of paying the University workers remuneration instead of IPPS.
And ASUU’s rejection of FG’s position that State Governments should be allowed to implement what each can afford to pay, rather than a uniform national wage for university workers, at a time when some states cannot even pay the national minimum wage to their workers.
Already, because of the incessancy of the strike, and the seeming intransigence of its leadership, accusations of sectional prejudice have begun to enter, alluding that, the strike is so prolonged, to work to the disbenefit of a particular section of the country, which has already been at a disadvantage, historically.
There is a particular cliché with the such sentiment that is circulating in social media, viz:
ASUU strike update!!!
It is common knowledge that even without a strike; 65 -70 percent of NYSC members serving in each state of the federation are from the South (Check current Statistics of Participants per state).
Now with more than half of a year on the strike, what Will be the Ratio of next batch of NYSC participants in January 2023, since more than 90 percent of Private universities are located in Southern Part of the country?
Answer: lt may likely be 90-95 percent Southern corpers as participants and 5 -10 percent Northern corpers as participants.
What this means is that the strike is further widening the educational gap between the north and south.
It is my considered opinion that Northerners, (particularly Lecturers) should have a second thought about continuing with the strike.
Please note: some State Universities in the South are not on strike for a single day since ASUU started the strike, eg, Lagos State has 3 state universities and none of them is on strike.
Hattara mutanen Arewa
A word is enough for the wise!
Hattare mutenen Arewa means, the people of the north should be wary.
With the coming of such sentiments, alongside the directive of the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, that students should sue ASUU because of the strike, coupled with the long-standing anger of parents and students, I think the leadership of ASUU needs to revisit its conscience, to ensure that it does not plunge Nigeria into an unwarranted crisis, or earn the anger of ALLAH.