ASUU Strike And The State Of The Nation: Between Sentimental And Ideological Affirmations By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
In the words of Daneil Allegri, the hottest places in hell are reserved for those Whom, during the period of crises, immoralities and illegalities, remain silent. Consequent upon the above emotional-ridden affirmation, I wish to again, write on the ongoing face-off between the academic staff union of universities (ASUU) and the federal government (FG) that has paralyzed academic activities in our public universities for the past three months.
Before i posit, let me ideologically state unequivocally that I have no confidence in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan because i detest his Political Party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for not being efficient and consistent at fixing and rebranding Nigeria since 1999 it has been saddled with the responsibilities of securing the lives and properties of Nigerians, provision of infrastructures and necessary amenities needed for the basic existence of life etc.
However, as a patriotic citizen of the nation of Nigeria, let me avow without any fear of Favour that I must not be seen Supporting any anti-Nigerian Project. Hence, the need for coining this article.
I was caught unaware by the ongoing ASUU strike. Myself and my mates (M.Sc class) in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) were already in lecture room awaiting our lecturer on the 2nd July when we learnt that ASUU has again began another indefinite strike. We were all shocked. I called Yinka Gbadebo, the President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) demanding for why Nigerian Students have to be out of classroom again; surprisingly, his response was that he wasn’t aware about the strike until that same day. He told me that ASUU neither consult nor carry him along before going on strike though claimed that he read in the dailies that the strike was to make FG fulfill the agreement it signed with ASUU in 2009.
Meanwhile, a lot had been said by many (both informed and uninformed) Nigerians about the strike. Many had sentimentally and for political reasons, declared their support for both FG and ASUU without looking at the content of the agreement signed in 2009 by the feuding parties. However, two weeks ago, the NANS President presented the 2009 agreement signed between FG and ASUU to me at Ibadan for perusal. He did that in recognition of my position as his Media/Editorial Consultant.
For your necessary information, the agreement is hereby divided into two:
1. Primary Demands
2. Secondary Demands
The primary demands are the Earned Allowance totaling N87billions being demanded by ASUU for her members. ASUU is also demanding that all the landed properties in Public Universities nationwide should be allocated to her by government to be managed via a company called ASUU HOLDINGS.
The secondary demands are those which encapsulate: conducive environment for teaching and learning, total implementation of UNESCO recommendation on education, etc. A total of N400billion is being demanded by ASUU for these.
Personally, i am in support of ASUU with respect to her secondary demands, but let me assert without any fear of intimidation that the authenticity and sincerity of the primary demands of ASUU are questionable.
In reference to the signed agreement and the status update of the negotiation between ASUU and FG, the summary of the primary demands of ASUU goes as thus:
That the N87billion being demanded by ASUU was not stated in the 2009 agreement,
That the N87billion was inserted into the agreement by ASUU on february this year,
That the 2013 budget had already been sent to national assembly before the primary demands were made by ASUU,
That Federal Government has appealed to ASUU to wait for her primary demands to be incorporated into the 2014 budget,
That Federal Government has offered to pay ASUU N30billion while the rest of the primary demands will be incorporated into the 2014 appropriation,
That FG has discovered that not all Lecturers are entitled to the earned allowance being demanded by ASUU, thereby making the authenticity of the N87billion being demanded for by the union to be doubtful,
That Lawfully, the allowance is meant for those working outside teaching i.e those serving as Heads of Departments, supervisors of Masters and PhD Students, and course advisers,
That FG is arguing that a lecturer employed by UNILAG but on sabbatical leave at the UNiversity of Ibadan (UI) should only benefit from the earned allowance as a staff of UNILAG, but ASUU is demanding that such a lecturer be paid in both UNILAG and UI.
That FG has told ASUU members to go for verification exercise in order to know the actual number of those entitled to the earned allowance,
That ASUU has refused to go for verification, insisting that all Lecturers, irrespective of the manner with which they were employed and their condition of service must be paid,
That negotiation between FG and ASUU broke down over the primary demands.
On the secondary demands by ASUU, the signed document and status update of the FG and ASUU negotiation shows that the FG has began the disbursement of the sum of N100billion for the provision of infrastructures to public universities nationwide including state owned ones. Take for instance, The Benue State University, Makurdi got N950million while Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti got about N800million. Federal Government has promised to pay the N400billion being demanded for by ASUU for the period of four years.
ASUU is also demanding that the projects to be executed with the fund being released by FG should be managed by her via ASUU holdings.
Compatriots, please peruse the piece above and pass your verdict. Do not be sentimental. Forget tradition and follow reality. Country people, what is the business of ASUU with the landed properties in public universities nationwide? Why would ASUU be demanding that her company, ASUU holdings should execute the projects which the N100billion being provided for by the FG are meant for? These are misplaced of priorities! Why is ASUU saying no to verification? Many had also lampooned the NANS President for not supporting ASUU and for questioning her sincerity. Please Why would NANS support a body that never recognized its existence?
Furthermore, in fairness to President Jonathan, I think this is the first time since the advent of democratic rule in Nigeria that Federal Government will be making available the sum of N100 billion at a go for the provision of infrastructures in public universities.
Recently, Ekiti State governor, Dr. kayode Fayemi made available of the sum of N300million for the provision of infrastructures in all tertiary institutions in his state. Then, he was applauded. In fact, I was one of those that appreciated him in the media because what he did has never happened in the history of Ekiti State. For Christ sake, Why have those pundits that praised Fayemi refused to appreciate President Jonathan for donating about N800million to EKSU, a state government owned institution? I urge Nigerians to learn how to argue patriotically and ideologically. I beg that Sentimental positions, submissions and affirmations should be jettisoned.
May I also use this medium to ask that were FG officials blind when they were signing the controversial agreement with ASUU in 2009? Nonetheless, the federal Government, with it’s squander of the patrimony of Nigerians on white elephant projects since 1999 could not also be trusted, therefore, I really do not blame sentimental Nigerians subjectively supporting ASUU. However, i refuse to be cajoled, wheedled and coaxed by the hypocrisy of ASUU.
In conclusion, let me state that In the ongoing battle of supremacy not minding the destinies and future of students being delayed and ruined, ASUU is seen as the opposition party while the FG is the ruling party. Most Nigerians, especially the gullible ones, will never believe in the argument of FG but will trust the statement mostly humbug and false piety coming out from the leaders of ASUU. Why? Because of the previous insincerity of government at all levels to the plight of Nigerians. Why trusting ASUU? Because of seemingly being in the opposition meanwhile they are part of the corrupt-ridden system. ASUU members conducted and supervised the 2007 and 2011 elections but they failed to make Nigerians proud. Are they not part of those selling plagiarized textbooks of less than 100 pages for N1000 in our campuses? Are they not part of those mostly recommending students leaders for rustication and expulsion without justification? ASUU members are in the states house of assembly. They are also many in the national assembly. Please What has changed? The ongoing battle is all about class struggle (apologies to Karl Marx). Nigerian masses should wise up.
I expected to be blackmailed and insulted for willingly writing this piece but since I rest on the pillar of truth and my conscience has not been compromised, time, the creature that changes a day to a night with an amazing ease will certainly vindicate me.
Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye, a public affairs commentator, writes from Magodo, Lagos. +2347039168005
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