By Bala Ibrahim
When a friend, who is also an academic, received my previous article on ASUU, captioned, Is ASUU Asking for The Anger of Allah? his response was, “yayi mallam B. Muna jiran reactions”. The meaning is, it’s okay mallam B. We await reactions. Indeed, I knew there would be reactions, some of which would be unpalatable, but I am ready to damn the consequences, because, like late Mallam Saad Zungur said, tell the truth and prepare to be damned.
One of the reactions, which broadly reflects the general overview of them all, is, “Bala Ibrahim should keep his mouth shut. He’s lost touch with the reality as far ASUU’s strike is concerned. For example, the man is still trying to compare IPPIS to UTAS, while the Federal Minister for Communications and Digital Economies has just last week told the world that IPPIS has been compromised, and that he has been mandated by Mr President to inaugurate a presidential committee towards ameliorating its deficiencies.
This goes to show that either Bala Ibrahim has lost touch with facts on the ground or he’s a hired agent by the Federal Ministry of Education in their bid to set the students against their lecturers”
I expected something like this and even more, because ego is at work. However, because I anticipated their coming, my instinct simply classified them as comments in conformity with the song of Randy Crawford- Same old story, same old song.
In Nigeria, once you go against the position of any union that is fighting the government, regardless of the reason, if the union is self-centred, or preoccupied with the gratification of its own desires, your name is, the paid agent of the government. It’s same old story same old song.
In her song, titled, Same old story, same old song, Randy Crawford said:
“It goes all right till it goes all wrong. Now you’re going, then you’re gone. Same old story, same old song. One hand will take, one hand will give. That’s all we know, that is how we live. One day hello, the next day goodbye. And everyone just stays high. Same old story, same old song.
One builds you up, one tears you down. To some you’re a saint, to others you’re a clown. What can you do but just see it through? And hold on to what is left of you? Same old story, same old song”.
I expected some of these critics from ASUU, particularly those of them in the English and Mass communications departments, to do a quick clinique on the article, and correct my grammatical blunder, where I said, By the same talking, instead of, By the same token. But because ego is at work, they were blinded by anger, because the truth was told. Hence the resort to singing the song of Randy Crawford- Same old story same old song.
The issue ASUU is refusing to look at is the moral position of the teacher, and the righteousness of the teaching profession.
Some of us have taught before, and we know since then that, money and material possessions are the last in the curriculum of the teacher. Materialism, or the tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than social values are not supposed to be in the dictionary, or even constitution of the conscientious teacher.
Teaching is classified among the sacrificial services, which means, doing good works even when it’s costly, inconvenient or challenging. There is an African saying that: “Teachers’ reward is in heaven”, which simply means, the reward for teachers’ daily sacrifice, and hard work in shaping the minds and lives of the future leaders of the society, can never be adequately rewarded in monetary terms.
But ASUU, under the present leadership, is refusing to agree with that, rather, it is trying to change the narrative. And doing so by putting parents and students under unbearable pains.
Late Julius Nyerere, the former President of Tanzania, who preferred the title of Muallim, or the teacher, to the prefix, President, once said, “If I had known that the status of the President is less than the prestige of the teacher, I wouldn’t have left the classroom to become the President”.
Such was the stimulus in the motivation to teach, or be seen as a teacher- sacrificing your comfort today, for the progress and comfort of the students tomorrow.
If medical doctors for instance, whose course and period of training is adjudged as extremely tasking, were to ask for commensurate compensation for their sacrifices, and contemplate downing tools until such compensations are made good in monetary terms, public life would crash, or cease completely.
ASUU, under the leadership today, is hell-bent on crippling the future of education in Nigeria, and from all indications, the reasons are inseparable from the personal profit or pleasure of the leaders, whose agenda seems in concert with the agenda of an unpopular political party, that is working towards disuniting Nigeria. Why?
So long as ASUU keep our children away from the universities, we shall continue to voice out their insensitivity, without regards to whose ox is gored. And we know they would only react with the same old story and same old song.