WHO ASUU STRIKES EPP? (PART 1) – By Babajide Michael Olusegun, Guest Writer
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is due for a retreat. The need for a retreat is for ASUU to return to the drawing board and answer this simple but complex question: Who ASUU strikes epp?
It is this writer’s belief that when the question ‘Who ASUU strikes epp?’ is critically and dispassionately answered by ASUU leaders through its congresses, two results would become inevitable:
- A critical appraisal of the gains and losses of recurring ASUU strikes would have taken place in the light of recent events and in the light of who the beneficiaries and victims of ASUU strikes are.
- A need for a new strategy and approach would become imperative.
WHY A RETREAT?
The call for a retreat on ASUU strikes is anchored on the ditties of: “an unexamined life is not worth living” and “repeating an act that has produced results not expected amounts to folly”.
ASUU strikes have become an albatross around the neck of Nigeria’s Education Sector. It is sad that Nigeria is a country that has free education at all levels as a human right in s.18 of its constitution but which it couched in the form of a Fundamental Objective and Directive Principle of State Policy for obvious legal, economic, and political reasons.
More saddening is the fact that despite being so couched as an Objective and Policy but disguised in the cloak of a human right, the Nigerian State has not shown in years that it is aware of the existence of or appreciates the value of s.18 of its own constitution which it swore to uphold and protect through its machineries of state i.e. the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
Perhaps, the following extracts from two different videos related to the ongoing ASUU strike which was published by Channels Television would put into perspective the point being made about the disposition of Nigeria’s political class to education in Nigeria and how recurring ASUU strikes are symptomatic of the failure of s.18 of the Nigerian Constitution due to the failure of elected politicians to make s.18 a living policy document despite having sworn to uphold, protect, and enforce the Nigerian constitution which contains provisions like s.18:
Extract from the September 7, 2022 Channels TV Interview on ‘Politics Today’ between Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television and Mallam Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s Minister of Education:
Seun Okinbaloye: What do you think made this strike action linger for this long; it’s over 200 days
Adamu Adamu: Yes, I think that one, as Minister of Education, who have been trying day in day out to put an end to it, I am not the right person to answer this question, probably those who are on strike are the right people to tell you why they allowed it to linger
Seun Okinbaloye: But you are the Minister in charge
Adamu Adamu: Yes, I am the Minister in charge
Seun Okinbaloye: You are Federal Government as far as they are concerned so if they are demanding of the Federal government and thats the reason why they have had this indefinite strike…
Adamu Adamu: That’s what I am telling you that the Federal Government has made their offer and this offer is what I believe the Federal Government can take or can fulfill.
Extract from the September 21, 2022 Channels TV Video Recording of the Meeting between ASUU and the Leadership of the House of Representatives
ASUU President: This is the 7th month this strike is on, we have never, and you can check…, being called to a formal meeting by the Ministry of Education, formal meeting where minutes are taken and decisions taken, you can check, not one, we have only called to a meeting twice by the Ministry of Labour, 27th of February and 1st of March, between then and now, we are never called to any formal meeting, I’m using the word formal, if me and you talk on phone, or we sit down and gist and talk, it’s not a formal meeting, and for issue that involve collective bargaining you don’t just, you don’t just issue you talk on this thing, so there has never been any and we challenge the ministry of education to produce one document, one minute to show that the minister of education has called us for any formal meeting in 7 months. Iit can never happen anywhere in the world, because they don’t look at strike as a problem; they look at the real issues but we look at strike as a problem.
Speaker House of Representatives: If the courts force the lecturers to go and teach I would want to believe that what I know of you, you will teach the students to the best of your ability, you won’t cut your nose to spite your face and say because we were forced we won’t teach you well. Yours is a noble profession just like the legal profession and I think this is the time when that phrase, and I’m trying to be… to be to be humorous now so that we will lighten the tension; your reward is in heaven, if they tell you to go back, so you go back but know that we are with you, we are with you (laughs).
ASUU is, remains, and is presumed to be a Nigerian body of thinkers, researchers, professionals, and solution miners in diverse fields of human, political, cultural, economic and creative endeavors. ASUU should not allow itself to be ridiculed in the hands of Nigerian politicians whose primary concerns revolve around wielding political power to satisfy political interests.
ASUU should remind itself of where the rain started beating it. ASUU should also be reminded that in its struggle, its students, without whom it would never have been in existence in the first place, must be carried along in its scheme of things henceforth. This is important because of the recent court order commanding ASUU to return to classrooms which is the natural habitat of students and not that of presiding judges or elected politicians.
Nigerian Students are ASUU’s best and most formidable allies. And to do this, ASUU must accept that it should devise a means of properly, effectively, and regularly educating its students on why ASUU always strikes. Many of the headlines on ASUU Strikes smirk of selfishness and self-centeredness. This has to change. And this can only change the day ASUU starts telling its own story and working with its greatest allies- The Students it teaches and nurtures with knowledge through its Lecturer members.
But why are public university students ASUU’s greatest allies?
(TO BE CONTINUED……..)
BABAJIDE Michael Olusegun is an ‘Aspirant to the Nigerian BAR’.