Re: #EndASUUStrike: Case of biased conciliator, embarrassed negotiators, and disappointed Nigerians

My esteemed readers, I crave your indulgence to recall my first sentence on the above topic last week, I wrote “Except for insecurity, the ASUU strike is the most burning issue of the moment”. The strike is still ongoing, and there seems no hope in sight as Minister for State, Labour, and Employment, Festus Keyamo, perhaps woke up from slumber and joined Dr. Chris Ngige, the Labour Minister, to further scuttle efforts in resolving the ASUU-FGN imbroglio. As of this time, five months into the strike, the government has made the offer to ASUU for consideration except requesting parents to “beg” ASUU to call off the strike.

There are several comments on this issue, all the comments appeal to the government to do the needful so that normalcy can return to our campuses. I am sharing a few such comments with the hope that government will give the matter the much-needed attention as a responsible authority. Happy reading:

The ASUU strike is well discussed in your piece. The general public should be well educated on what I call the “ASUU strike, our governors, and the “TETFund universities”. After a lot of pressure from ASUU, the government of Goodluck Jonathan set up the committee on NEEDS Assessment of public universities in 2012 under the chairmanship of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the then Executive Secretary of TETFund and the current chairman of INEC. The universities to be assessed include all the federal and state universities. The committee assessed more than half of the federal and state universities across the country. I saw the pictures of Danfodio Hall in ABU Zaria in their report. The committee found it hard to believe what they uncovered. They described the students’ hostels as not suitable for human habitation. Most of the state universities were referred to as “TETFUND universities” because the only visible structures are TETFund intervention buildings.

As against the N1.1 trillion suggested by ASUU in 2009 for the revitalisation of public universities, the NEEDS Assessment Committee in the report presented to the Federal Economic Council in 2012 at the Villa, recommended N1.3 trillion to revitalise public universities (federal and state) and spread over six years (2013 to 2018) which was approved. The Jonathan government released the first tranche of N200 billion to the universities for 2013 before he was voted out of power. The N200 billion was shared among all the federal and state universities.

ASUU has been from one strike to another since 2016 and part of the demands is the release of the revitalisation funds as agreed for the federal and state universities. While TETFund is funding the structures in their universities and ASUU fighting for the release of the revitalisation funds for all public universities, the governors are busy building bridges without state-funded projects in their universities. Imagine a governor that can afford to build a N3 billion bridge for the state, building a state-of-the-art laboratory in his university for purposeful research. Imagine the return on investment. But they won’t since TETFund and NEEDS Assessment interventions are coming.

What the governors do now is to convert an existing primary school structure into a university and take a trip to TETFund, a creation of ASUU strike, for intervention support. Most states have at least two state universities now.

Revitalisation fund is a part of the ASUU demands on this current strike and the governors of the states with TETFund universities said their “TETFund universities”, the greatest beneficiaries of TETFund and NEEDS Assessment intervention, have no business joining ASUU.

Dear state governors, the state universities are not on solidarity strike but they are a part of the strike except you want them exempted from the proceeds of the ASUU strikes. But before you do that, take a tour of your university and remove all the TETFund and NEEDS Assessment projects from the university. Possibly, only the gate and the old primary school building will be left.

– Mr. Emmanuel A. Ogunrinde, Saki

Salam Prof. Thank you for vindicating ASUU on the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the union. In the first place, we blame the prolonged strike on President Muhammadu Buhari. As the head of state, he’s supposed to oversee the activities of every ministry but he’s always busy spending the nation’s scarce resources traveling all over the world on useless ventures and has no time to even show a little concern for the fate of the children of the poor that are kept at home because of the strike. Secondly, the minister of education, who is directly responsible for overseeing the smooth running of the universities, is incapacitated because of his incompetence and inferiority complex, leaving the issue of ASUU/FGN negotiations to the Labour Minister, Dr. Ngige, to handle. 

As long as Ngige is left to decide the fate of the ongoing ASUU strike, then the universities may remain closed forever because his utterances and actions are likely to allow the gates of the nation’s public universities to close for a long time. On our part, we will continue to pray for the quick exit of this crop of reckless and irresponsible leaders that are running the affairs of this nation and their replacement with competent and responsible leaders.

– Professor Abdulhameed U. Yusuf, Kano.

Every parent who has a ward in any of the public universities is frustrated with this current unending strike of ASUU. l initially blamed ASUU, but having listened to some of their members I got to realise they too are equally fighting for their credibility, because any half-baked graduate turned out the blame will go to the universities and ASUU members. No thanks to the decayed infrastructure in the universities which ASUU is demanding to be fixed. The FGN should listen to ASUU while ASUU should stop this supermarket stand of insisting that all their demands must be met or no deal. Now that Ngige is no more on the negotiation table hope there will be a breakthrough so that our kids can go back to school. Please, ASUU we are begging you to have pity on our kids and accept the goodwill of the FGN and accept what is offered.

– Alhaji Usman M. Ngulde, Kaduna.

If the education sector has not been worthy of their attention, I don’t know what would be. Wallahi, I pity those who are at the helm of the affairs of our country!!

– Yahya M. Barau, Bindawa

Well said, Prof. I pray for the intervention of the Almighty, the destroyer of tyrants. Allah brought Alhaji Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of the Federation, down. He will bring those against the university system down soon.

– Dr. Dauda D. Nalado, Kano

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