Professor MK Othman’s article published on the Back Page of Blueprint of Thursday, August 4, 2022, was a masterpiece. The article on the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) demonstrates the ego of Nigeria’s leaders. I hope that the issues raised by the professor, who is renowned for writing on agriculture and other national issues, will be adequately addressed to end the ASUU strike.
Well, our noble Professor Othman had gone the memory lane of ASUU strikes; from the President Olusegun Obasanjo government to President Goodluck Jonathan down to the current Muhammadu Buhari administration. The current strike commenced since February this year and there is no clue as to when this awful strike will come to an end.
I was a trade union activist in 1975 with the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Kano state chapter. The new executives of ASUU at the time invited us to acquaint them with how to run their union. The then ASUU chairman was Professor Alkali, who became the vice chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, while the members included late Dr. Bala Mohammed. One would wonder how the mighty university lecturers would come down to mere primary schools to teach them how to run the affairs of their union.
It was fantastic. The lecturers were amazed as the eloquent state chairman of NUT elaborated on the manner NUT was ran from the branches to state wings down to the national executive council. NUT branches elect the state executive council while state executive councils in turn elect the national executive council. This has been the formula since 1931. But ASUU has no branches, it has only departments within the university.
The members of ASUU gave us their preamble which is its constitution while NUT members gave ASUU the NUT constitution. This background is intended to draw the attention of the national executive council of ASUU to the fact that prolonged strike is boring not only to students but to the general public and, of course, to the lecturers too.
The learned Professor Othman has already identified the victims, who are naturally students. But non-payment of salary too is biting hard on some lecturers. The no work, no pay policy is draconian and should not be used to arm-twist the lecturers or even to the lower federal workers. Mr. Chris Ngige, the labour minister, should recall when he was frustrated as governor of Anambra state and stop making things difficult at the federal level.
The present situation in Nigeria is very unfortunate. There has never been any university worldwide that went on strike for more than 30 days. So, ASUU should call off the strike as prolonged strike could be counterproductive. Although, strike is inevitable to force government to do the right thing, ASUU should calm down and urge their egg heads to be mindful of the negative consequences on their global rating and reputation.
Please, note that education is the right development of the mental, physical and spiritual capacity of children, to help them to grow according to God’s purpose and to be of service to their nation. The Nigerian university lecturers should know that they were once children who should be of real service to the nation. Looking for easy money today in Nigeria has made some evil people to become kidnappers, bandits and insurgents. So, ASUU should sympathise with the students and end the strike.
Comrade Ibrahim Abdu Zango
Chairman, Kano Unity Forum,