Demola Rewaju: It’s time for ASUU to call off this strike

by Demola Rewaju

Activists-and-students-protesting-in-Lagos-on-Tuesday-against-poor-funding-of-education-by-the-Federal-Government-448x336

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s first graduate president broke with tradition in his first budgetary allocation where education enjoyed a significant 26% of the national cake, higher than defence for the first time since independence.

As a former unionist, one should ordinarily see ASUU as comrades but truth sometimes needs to be told regardless of such affiliation. I remember as PRO of the students union in those days, we once took our protest to the office of the ASUU chairman who didn’t find it funny. There is also a story about the tortoise whose son-in-law owed him an amount of money for many years and had become an expert at dodging the crafty tortoise until one morning, senior tortoise (only tortoises marry tortoises abi?) caught Junior tortoise at home and held him to the ground in a pinfall move. As people passed on their way to the farm, they asked what the matter was and tortoise explained his case to them. The people supported him and asked him t deal with junior tortoise very well. As they were returning in the evening and they saw senior tortoise still beating junior tortoise, the tide of opinion changed and the people who had supported the tortoise in the morning changed tunes and condemned him for beating his inlaw for such a long period.

ASUU has a good case: no doubt. I just don’t like how they’re going about it especially since we all know that in the end, they would capitulate, return to the classrooms only to go on strike again some months from now. Rather than playing the game of musical chairs with the future of our brothers and sisters and using them as bargaining tools, lecturers need to come up with more creative ways of pressing home their demands. The only time anyone ever hears from ASUU is when they go on strike. Whether this a fault of the media or that ASUU’s national PRO only sends meeting circulars to its members is something they should look into while we look at the issues they are raising, this time around.

The issues can be divided into two parts: Primary and Secondary Demands where the major issue is the Earned Allowance of their members and the Secondary issues are conducive environment for teaching and learning, total implementation of UNESCO recommendation on education, etc. Let’s pretend we believed Dr. Fagge when he tried to pretend that they were fighting more for the students than for their own pockets and just move on with a brief analysis.

The FG negotiation team is led by the Benue state Governor, Gabriel Suswam and he claims that ASUU’s demand of NGN87billion was not a part of the 2009 agreement and was only inputted into ASUU’s position as recently as February this year. The government also says that the 2013 budget had been sent to the national assembly before ASUU brought it up and that it can only be incorporated into the 2014 budget but will only be disbursed after ASUU subjects all its members to a verification exercise to know who and who deserves to enjoy the Earned Allowance. ASUU insists that all its members must enjoy the benefits, regardless of how they were employed or smuggled into the system.

In a country where many of us would rather blame our leaders than take a dispassionate look at the issues, it is expected that ASUU enjoys much sympathy but perhaps we should look at the casualty of this crisis – students of public universities who have been at home for the past three months. We’ve had ASUU strikes that lasted a year, another was for six months so this shouldn’t be so much of an anomaly except that it is fast becoming a ritual that makes public education less attractive without any significant improvement to the state of affairs except the lecturer’s pockets.

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s first graduate president broke with tradition in his first budgetary allocation where education enjoyed a significant 26% of the national cake, higher than defence for the first time since independence. The figure these days has reduced and gone back to the status quo ante. Maybe it would help their negotiations if the proceedings were broadcast live so that Nigerian students can see issues for themselves.

In the long run, ASUU needs to modernise and shape up to the democracy that we are practicing where robust ideas, aggressive media campaigns to build solid public support and creative ways of pressing home demands are what works, not the hardline stance of ‘we no go gree’ that was useful for military governments. ASUU needs to work closely with students’ bodies and the ministry of education whose immediate past head and several others in the past are also lecturers in public schools. One wonders what Prof Ruqquyat Rufai was saying at her handover where she said she would resume at Bayero University, Kano as a lecturer – perhaps she forgot the strike is still ongoing or it was the daze of being sacked without notice.

The problems of the educational sector in Nigeria require a deeper approach than downing tools or playing to the gallery by castigating government. It requires at the least, a national blueprint on the way forward following series of seminars, symposia and national summits. Using the millions of students as pawns is not such a good idea and ASUU should call off this strike.

 

—————————-

 

Read this article on Demola’s Blog

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (6)

  1. This is a decisive issue with a decisive action its high time fight for nigeria students rather than their pocket this menials is unwholesome to nigeria education

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail