ASUU, Human Exemplar

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ASUU, Human Exemplar

Nigerian government has failed to live up to its responsibility of providing education, argues Jeff Godwin Doki

The clearest symptom of true madness is when a man burns down his own home stead (African Proverb).
Nigeria as a country has continued to persevere under the burden of bad governance, political charlatanism and, most painfully, the deleterious role of the political class. And the reason for this is simple: for the past three or four decades, those who are charged with the duty of guarding public patrimony have deliberately abrogated their responsibilities; those who occupy positions of power are parochial, insincere and incompetent; those who are voted, or who rig themselves, into power say one thing in order to get into office but do the opposite once they get there. The Nigerian nation has continued to travel on reverse gear because its journey is bedeviled by untruths, deceit and thwarted dreams and desires. Honesty, honor, truth and humanistic sympathy have all but taken leave of the ruling class and the citizens have been reduced to mere playthings in the hands of the rulers. But let me not sermonize about Nigerian leadership and turn to Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which is the theme of my story.

It is very clear to anybody with two eyes that in the year 2001 precisely, the Nigerian government signed an agreement with the union of university teachers (ASUU). The chief intention of that agreement was to fund Nigerian universities properly in order to revitalize and burnish them to international standards. But from the regime of Obasanjo to that of Yar’Ádua, to Jonathan and Buhari, it has been the same drama of sham, indifference and disdain. Promises were made but not fulfilled, negotiations began and were stopped only to begin again and stop. For the past two decades, no Nigerian leader has dealt with the ASUU- FGN agreement seriously, sincerely and honorably. From 2001 to date, the rot in the university system has also continued unhindered; from 2001 to date the university teachers have embarked on several warning strikes and an indefinite strike all in an attempt to press the Nigerian government to tread the path of honor by respecting its promises. Now, as I write presently, Nigerian university teachers have embarked on an indefinite strike since March, 2020 for the same reasons: adequate and proper funding of Nigerian universities, payment of Earned Academic Allowances and University autonomy among others. Talking about University autonomy reminds one of the federal government’s recent disregard and debasement of intellectual labor by imposing the IPPIS on university teachers. University autonomy is a global practice associated with universities all over the world and if the Nigerian government denies Nigerian universities autonomy it will be another unfortunate reflection of the levity and contempt with which Nigerian leaders treat serious national issues. The on-going ASUU strike may not have profound impact for now because of the dreaded global pandemic COVID:19, but when our medical experts find a cure for this pandemic in the not-too-distant future, parents will begin to ask questions why their children are still at home.

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