by Steve Nwosu
Wike must sack o! Because I am already composing my application letter to take over from the irritant ASUU people. Don’t ask me if I have the perquisite qualification, after all what do you really need? PhD? I can get one between now and next week when Wike would be considering/shortlisting the applicants. Azteca University, Oshodi Campus, recently offered me one for the asking.
Yesterday was 4th of December, the deadline the Federal Government gave to striking university lecturers to either return to the classroom of get sacked. Any lecturer, who failed to show up yesterday or fails to sign the register should consider him or herself out of job. That is the order from Headmaster Nyesom Wike.
But going by the adamant stance of the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which has warned parents that they’d be sending their children back to the campuses at their own risk, it appears there are soon going to be a lot of vacancies in the universities.
In fact, when the Goodluck Jonathan government promised to create jobs during their campaign, it never occurred to be that they would go about it this way. What ingenuity! At least, nobody can say they have not kept their promise.
But I am disappointed that government has suddenly developed cold feet and has been busy all week, shopping for do-gooders, who would come to beg it to soft-pedal on its latest stand on the varsity lecturers’ strike.
Suddenly, we are hearing that it was no longer the Wike, who we all saw on TV, smoke literally billowing from his nostrils, that threatened to sack the striking teachers. Yes, Jonathan said it was the vice chancellors, who issued the threat. But what the president failed to tell us was when it became the duty of the minister of education to read the committee of vice chancellors’ communiqué or why no VC was bold enough to come and read their own communiqué.
But none of these explanations would suffice for me. Wike must sack o! Because I am already composing my application letter to take over from the irritant ASUU people. Don’t ask me if I have the perquisite qualification, after all what do you really need? PhD? I can get one between now and next week when Wike would be considering/shortlisting the applicants. Azteca University, Oshodi Campus, recently offered me one for the asking. I am also on the shortlist of Universal University of Theology, Abule-Egba. They are not just willing to give an ordinary honoris causa degree but the real doctorate degree. In fact, if Wike can exercise a little more patience, I could actually secure an outright professorship from one other university that exists only in the briefcase of an acquaintance of mine, who lives at Somolu, Lagos.
I can also arrange to get a PhD in any field I choose from a certain Northwestern University of Advanced Education, even though the busybodies at the NUC might insist that this one is not accredited. But they don’t know what is good for them.
In fact, my neighbour, who trained at Orlu, Imo State, as a medicine dealer and now runs a chemist shop – and has been administering injection for as long as I can remember – can head any college of medicine anywhere (from LUTH to UNTH, ABUTH or even UNTH). I am sure with a little more boldness and self-belief, he can also carry out surgeries. After all, he has been helping people burst boils all these years without any casualties. Similarly, the auxiliary nurse recently arrested in Lagos, who claimed to have taken more than 90 deliveries with only one casualty, can be elevated to Chief Medical Director (instead of arraignment, as the Lagos State Government was trying to do to him). In fact, his story aptly demonstrates the depth of talent we have waiting outside the university system. On his arrest, he told a TV reporter that armed with only a First School Leaving Certificate, he had been engaged by the hospital, as an auxiliary nurse. So, one day, when the doctor failed to show up, the owner of the hospital told him to take over as the doctor. He did and nothing changed, especially since the patients, coming to the hospital were already addressing him as ‘doctor’, even before the elevation.
If we don’t get enough auxiliary nurses and chemists to teach medicine, pharmacy, biochemistry and microbiology, we can even elevate and redeploy the integrated science teachers in the secondary schools –after all, many of the private school owners are currently paying them less-than-slave-wage salaries ASUU people are saying is too small. In fact, even our minister Wike was only recently in charge of primary and secondary schools. It was only after his boss, Jonathan, sacked Prof. Ruqayat Rufai that Wike was himself promoted to run the universities.
If we still don’t have enough after all these, we can approach the motor parks. In this area, schools like LASU would be at a great advantage, having the good fortune of sharing their fence with motor park and touts. Government could just scale over the fence and recruit potential political scientists and economists good enough to teach even Okonjo-Iweala. If you doubt it, just board any Danfo there and listen to conversations while you wait for the bus to fill up. You will hear in-depth analysis of all the socio-political and economic issues, bedeviling the country – problems, which the Abuja people think are really knotty and insurmountable. You’d hear all manner of orthodox and unorthodox solutions. The same motor park could also supply us all electrical and electronic engineering lecturers LASU and sister universities can ever require. And I mean real lecturers, who practise what they preach. Lecturers, who would not rely on some book written in 1948 to teach students of today’s Internet age. Or photocopy the lesson notes their professor taught them with in 1967 and roll them out as handouts for sale to students. And, don’t forget, if we are lucky, we could also run into a handful of those really rare research experts, who masquerade as in-bus medicine hawkers. They would assure you that even if you drank just garri alone, a particular blood capsule could help turn the garri into protein in your body – something these striking ‘too-much-book’ lecturers would tell you is impossible.
For the philosophy and psychology lecturers, we could look to the mosques and churches for miracle workers, prosperity preachers and clerics with the capacity to turn and twine followers’ minds to do that which they would ordinarily not do. Again, if you doubt, just attend any service and see if the solutions for our present security problems, corruption and good governance are not just lying around everywhere you turn. Yet these striking lecturers would organise workshop, talk shop, seminar, training and retreat for government and still come up with nothing.
And that brings me to the question: Wetin lecturers dey do sef? Remember that sticker about lawyers? As a full blooded Igbo man, trading runs in my capillaries, meaning I can sell handouts better and faster than any lecturer can. I can also pirate and reproduce any book faster than all these bookworm lecturers can ever manage.
What else do they do? Harass female students? As a virile young man, I can also give a good account of myself on the sexual harassment beat. Ask my wife. In fact, I would even be smarter about it than these outdated lecturers. Hon. Minister, once you employ me, I would package myself in such a way that it would be the girls that would be harassing me.
But, jokes apart, Mr. President, when has beheading become the best panacea for headache? Why can’t we take politics out of this ASUU matter and solve the problem once and for all. Who does this mutual blackmail of politicisation really benefit? Do we, for a moment, remember that the life and future of our children are at stake here? Must we resort to intimidation every time we run out of ideas on any matter? Have we forgotten the mess we plunged ourselves into over the last incident at the University of Ilorin when some striking lecturers were sacked?
If government promised to inject X-amount of money into the university system over the next five years, what is wrong in ASUU, asking that government show show good faith by releasing just a small percentage of that X-amount before they return to classroom? At least, that way, the ASUU leaders would have something to show their members for the strike. They would not have returned to the classroom as empty handed as they left. Moreover, what would ASUU tell the spirit of Prof. Festus Iyayi, who died in the course of this strike? If the war has now been reduced to an ego thing, those seeking to now settle it must endearvour to take care all the huge eggshell ego that has now been placed before the reopening of the ‘not-shutdown’ varsities.
It’s not as if one is doubting CBN’s claim that government has earmarked N200 billion for the universities. It is just that ASUU and the lecturers have been hearing of this ear-mark for so long, without seeing anything. This has gone on for so long they have now begun to lose faith in ‘ear-marking.’ Now the lecturers want to eye-mark the money before going back to class. And I believe that’s a legitimate demand. What is the guarantee that if they go back to work, the government will keep its own side of the bargain? Or is money at CBN not still technically in government’s pocket?
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