ASUU Strikes: Driven by National or International Politics?
By Yahaya Alhaji Dunoma, Ph.D
AREWA AGENDA – I have carefully read the postulations of the protagonists and the antagonists of this strike. I have a contrary view to all the views put across by all the top brass of the university community and perhaps by the Federal Government through its representatives. I am of the humble view that all of them missed the crux of the matter. The perspective they viewed the strike is beyond that.
Before I put forth my opinion, it is apt to analyze the respective views.
They felt that Federal Government is guilty of not addressing the rudiments of the strike squarely and feared that this singular act has crippled and perhaps grounded the university system as the bedrock of the human capital development of Nigeria.
They also accused the Federal Government of not succumbing to their demands left, right, and center. This deadlocked the negotiation and re-negotiation process. This culminated in the indefinite strike which was hitherto a definite one when it was declared on February 14th, 2022.
On the other hand, they accused ASUU of playing politics with the future of the Nigerian youths because of what they called selfish interests. Namely: salary increment and UTAS/IPPIS discrepancy and its suitability and application as means of paying the university lecturers which the Federal Government insisted on IPPIS as its employer.
In the same vein, they argued that university revitalization and needs assessment falls within the mandate of the University Management and not the concern of ASUU. All that matters to them is their welfare which is the bedrock on which ASUU is formed as a ‘Trade Union.’
They relied on the damming but mistaken statement of the President of ASUU, Prof. Osokede where he called some State Universities and by extension their lecturers including the Professors as ‘quacks.’ This statement opened a new window which led to the exit of some State Universities from ASUU and scheduled the commencement of academic activities. This has affected the general acceptability of the strike and perhaps compelled the forming of the Academic Staff Union of State Universities (ASUSU). These are the respective views put forward.
ASUU Strike has International Politics:
Nigerian graduates have performed wonderfully and are still performing in the global arena. This has put Nigerian University education in the spotlight. The likes of Jelani Aliyu (a graduate of the Federal Polytechnic Birnin Kebbi) and many others have made footprints in technological advancements in the automotive industry and others. They are typical examples of A-Grade Nigerian graduates that went as far as Europe and America to the narrative of human capital development. Once gotten right, it brings forth rapid development of Nigeria.
Also, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the Managing Director of the African Development Bank is another example of a Nigerian graduate who was envied by many developed countries simply because he has performed maximally to the extent that it changed the face of African development.
Also, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the head of the World Trade Organization is another feather in the cap of Nigerians that has shaped the economic outlook of the world because of her qualitative presentations and approach to issues. All these and many more scattered across the world portrayed the good image of the Nigerian University education which is crippled by using Nigerians to do their bidding for them.
No Nation develops without research and learning because it is the anchor for development and perhaps a gateway to a crisis-free Nation. Japan is an example. Many other countries used research conducted in their universities for all developments.
My question now is, why has the International community failed to intervene in the ASUU/FG impasse?
The reason is that the rate at which Nigerian graduates are performing globally shook the world and therefore we need to mark time otherwise, with our population rapidly growing and awareness coming to us in all endeavours, day in; day out. Nigeria will be the next China human capitally and by extension, developmentally and economically.
Recently, a Borno-born Kanuri man produced a solar-panelled vehicle from local raw materials that drive more than 200 kilometres on one charge. That is how Europe, America, and Asia developed. Looking at this and having proven data about Nigerian graduates, the International community deliberately refused to intervene in the crisis which they likely benefit from.
My argument seems correct looking at the ardent concern made by all international communities that largely focus on back-to-school campus and girl child education where every organization ranging from the United Nations Organization (UNO) and its subsidiaries like UNDP and UN that always cry wolf that a certain number of children are out-of-school in Nigeria. The question that begs an answer is, was there any time when these organizations have a program or campaign for out-of-university youths in Nigeria? The answer is No, to my knowledge. This shows that there’s politics and perhaps an international one in the ASUU strike.
Just recently, European Union had a closed-door meeting with one of the Presidential flag bearers. That I think is geared toward democracy in Nigeria. My question is: Is democracy better than university education? No. It is far from that. It is the graduates of Nigerian universities that move the wheel of government in Nigeria and nothing more. Then, why did the European Union refuse to intervene in the crisis which grounded our university education?
To support my argument, in the last 13 years or thereabout, north-eastern Nigeria and by extension Nigeria is engulfed in the Boko Haram/ISWAP crisis which led to the intervention of the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in bringing succour to the affected and vulnerable. This is appreciative but I have not seen or heard a situation where such intervention is done to solve the ASUU impasse by either the UN or any development partners to see that Nigerian youths return to lecture halls for human capital development (to my knowledge). It never happened. Foreign schools will soon start offering juicy opportunities to the best lecturers. Blame the FG.
Any nation that has produced more productive graduates will be self-sufficient and no doubt crisis-free. This is what the international community fears about Nigeria. This angle is never perceived by both ASUU and the Federal Government. Had they been they averted their minds towards that, our children will get back to school and that issue would have been resolved in just one or two sittings without mincing words between them. If World War 2 was resolved through dialogue when the surrender document was signed on 2nd September 1945, then ASUU/FG issue is a child-play as long as comradeship and patriotism matter to all of them.
To my mind, the ASUU strike is a time-bomb ticking that will explode if it is not resolved in time because out-of-university youths are pedestals for trouble in every nation.
Our nation is hit from within and outside by many crises mostly wreaked by out-of-school students. No graduate with hopes and aspirations will engage in any violence or crime. This is why we are all responsible compared to our peers that have not gone to university and have lost all hopes in life.
A stitch in time saves nine.
God bless the University community!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Department of Languages and Liberal Studies, Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, Borno State-Nigeria.