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ASUU and President Jonathan’s Administration Treatment of Nigerian Youths

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

The ongoing industrial action embarked upon by ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) in Nigeria since July 1, 2013 has gone on for far too long. To the best of our understanding both the Federal Government of Nigeria FGN, who has so far failed to honour a 2009 agreement, and ASUU, who could not find other means to redress the case in their favour should be blamed; but not a 50-50 blame. Right now the concern of the public should not be blame sharing but to open our universities and ensuring that such a strike will never have to be repeated. The stakeholders are themselves guilty partners in that they have been paying lip services to the future and welfare of their children. Otherwise, the situation would not have got this far. A government jointly elected by a people should listen and obey the people if such a government were to be government of the people and for the people. In Nigeria politicians behave as if they don’t need our votes or our opinions to be in government. The military tactics have left long overdose hangovers to create rigging elections, ruling with total impunity, disconnection from the people and no means to feel the pulse of the society. Government officials are on their own while the people who are supposed to be the electorates are accountable to the politicians; rather than the reverse.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

We blame ASUU for not protecting its own domain and constituency, educational system and their students. Greed, Traitors, nepotism and infidels may have crept into ASUU ranks and files too making their requests looking less serious, less achievable or plausible and only personal. ASUU should check into this when the dusts settle, and if ever again. FGN sees nothing wrong when all the Universities in the nation are shutdown. All the so called private universities have only handful set of students with many of them turning out less than 100 graduates annually. Private Universities are simply money making avenues for their proprietors rather than improving the educational system or even providing solutions to admission problems. Hence while the bulk of our youths cannot graduate the rumours alleged that the President’s wife had accepted honourary degrees during the ongoing strike. She ought to have refused the offer or even just to delay it, if the allegation was true. At least a million Nigerian students could not attend classes which should bother all of us parents and leaders. ASUU could not use that opportunity to call off their strike on an administration that is less sensitive to the plights of our youths.

Meanwhile there is no indication that the President is aware that ASUU is on a strike let alone making sure that our universities are not locked up on him. The President should let the world know all the efforts taken by his government to resolve the issue beyond playing on the obvious fact that there is a global recession. ASUU should be ready also to educate the public on all the government officials who have travelled abroad this year alone and the cost to government, how much were paid to government officials that served on government ASUU/FGN so called negotiation committee, all the wasted opportunities by government to develop education sector only this year.

The truth is that you must honour your pledges and pay your bills. You may re-negotiate how to settle your bills and explain why you need a rebate, if at all. FGN should have avoided this waste at least for the sake of the students and the nation they pledge to serve. ASUU is still a labour force, despite the large senior citizens in their ranks and file, while FGN is the employer. If this strike continues any further other unions might be tempted to join or copy ASUU and more losses to the youth and the system could result.

For a government to be morally bonding to hold on to the wages of its workers on “no work no pay” slogan it must be a government that is truly transparent and serious; not one that is flying in and out of the country even during such a prolong strike as if nothing is happening. All our politicians remain immature and unable to make use of occasions but only reading scripts prepared for them by press secretaries. President Jonathan’s image might have improved with this strike if handled well. Difficult times bring our genuine leaders.

The recent plea whereby President Jonathan of Nigeria said that ASUU should temper its anger with patriotism speaks both ways. President Jonathan said ASUU should suspend its ongoing strike in the interest of the Nigerian students and the Nigerian educational sector without his government making any pledge, whether they intend to keep such or not. These are the very causes why ASUU said it is on strike. Therefore the plea should be to all stakeholders, including parents, students and government concerned appointees who see nothing in their appointments but the lust of the office. Many University Chancellors and Council members have failed to build the universities where they hold appointments instead they become extra burdens asking for the use of University vehicles, accommodations, allowances all from their respective universities. They are not bringing their personal influences and resources to their universities but reaping where they fail to sow seeds.

We would compare the President’s plea to a Sunday school story we were taught in the early 1960’s as we were growing up. Our teacher told us that there went out ten innocent virgins waiting to receive a bridegroom but that five of them were wise and the other five were not so wise. The less wise five virgins failed to act when they ought to. They were supposed to come along with their lamps and enough oil for the night vigil but carelessly they simply came near empty lamps and ran out their oil while the bridegroom was yet to arrive. The Nigeria President is acting too late and too little that we cannot advise the public to listen to him. He ought to have come up since July 1, 2013 laying out all the cards, refusing to travel out, taking steps that he and his family are deeply concerned about the poor plights of our youths in their quest to receive some education, and so on. His patriotism should have been clear and second to none. Now our beloved President may wish tell the nationa how much Nigeria money has gone on foreign trips since July 1, 2013 and how much ASUU is looking for. The balance may not be a negative amount. We need a priority setting and re-orientation. The President is however right that we should all be patriotic and defending all the systems in Nigeria, including all government officers and elected representatives.

The parents and the students that take things happening to them as if there is no government to fight their course are the biggest losers together with a nation that has no plan to develop its future leaders. If Nigeria were to become one of the first 50 most advanced nations in this century the type of education we run now should be the correct vehicle to take us there. We would avoid a situation where most primary school teachers, Polytechnic lecturers, University lecturers are on incessant strikes for whatever reason and governments looking the other way always. Our curriculum would be very sound and the set of lecturers we enlist to teach would have been the best possible from all over the world. No other vehicle would advance the society better than a firm education foundation for the youth. The oil would only increase our greed, corruption, create instable government, imbalanced budgeting, elect or select national legislative houses that could not set priority on what to legislate on and bring infightings. President Jonathan ought to have enlisted many of us to cry out a bit earlier, louder and to all the constituencies of Nigeria rather than after four months and in a small private University in far away Ado-Ekiti.

Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,
ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng


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