#ASUU: The Minority Interest By Igbinoba O. Tony

Nov. 19, 2013

By Igbinoba O. Tony

It is a principle of law that the welfare of the people is the supreme
law. This piece is not to cast aspersions on any individual or groups
but rather to tackle the catastrophic menace which has eaten deep into
every sector of the country. Constitutionally and conventionally, the
populace remains the most important segment of every society,
therefore every decision or action affects the populace either
directly or indirectly.

The Nigerian society of today has turned into a place where
individuals or groups who are opportune to be in position of power
whether in government,unions etc tend to use such power to fuel their
lusts without making recourse or reference to the most fundamental
doctrine of leadership which is to serve the interest of the populace.
Hence, the people are at the receiving end of every hardship that
flows from the ruling class which are the minorities.

I will narrow down this discussion and my case study will be on a
trade union – Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). A trade
union is a pressure group whose main objective is to fight for the
interest of its members. ASUU has become the most popular union in the
country this year as the strike embarked by her members on July 1st is
now approaching the fifth month. After meeting with Mr President two
weeks ago, the issue of negotiation has been brought to an end,
furthermore from the outcome of all ASUU congresses held across the
Nation, a resolution was reached that the strike should be called off.

The question on the lips of every Nigerian student remains thus, why
is the strike still on? The reason why the strike is yet to end is
beyond the comprehension of Nigerian students. The excuse for the
continuation of the strike is the demise of ASUU’s former president
Prof Festus Iyayi who met his untimely death on his way to ASUU NEC
meeting at Bayero University Kano. This frustrating event has
frustrated millions of Nigerian students. We deeply sympathize with
the family of the iconic professor and the entire ASUU family for this
great lost but however it is painful to know that the vast majority of
Nigerian students are not involved in this mourning session because
from opinion drawn from students, they are not happy with the decision
of ASUU to mourn for too long thereby placing the interest of one
person in utmost priority over millions of students who are being
delayed from achieving their dreams. Some students have passed away
during this strike but nobody altered a word. Well I guess some people
are more equal than others, like I earlier mentioned we regret the
death of Prof Iyayi but it was stated in the bible when Jesus said let
the dead bury the dead, this should not be used as a yard stick to
torture Nigerian students emotionally or otherwise. Due to the unions
silence or better still inadequate disposition of information, people
found it fun to deceive innocent students with false and fake news
about ASUU NEC meeting.  ASUU should honour the late Prof by calling
off the strike and also create an avenue for students to join mourn
this icon of the 21st century.

Finally from the look of things ASUU in one way or the other have the
interest of the students at heart in clamouring for an improved
learning condition which entails infrastructural development. But
technically all the aforementioned only affects we student’s pockets
indirectly, as the infrastructural development will be enjoyed by both
students and lecturers and most often than not, students will not have
enough opportunity to access what was made available for their use. If
this struggle is really for the interest and benefit of students as
claimed, there should be a provision to affect students more directly
and this can be made possible by reducing our school fees, at least
the schools will not need the sums of money paid by students in the
name of development levies.

To submit it will be pertinent to briefly identify the issue of trust
as regard the 1.5trn to be released by the Federal government in five
years and 200bn to be released installmentally every year in the space
of five years, just like how ASUU have the fear in trusting the
Federal government, that’s the same way Nigerian students lacks
confidence and trust in the university management to utilise the money
for what its meant for. Its better we give all parties the benefit of
doubt and allow time decide.

Failure occurs because of two reasons; Doing things without thinking about
them and thinking about things without doing

This letter is not to incite my fellow Nigeria students into violence but
rather to a constructive thought and also to bring to your cognisance that
though education is not made as of right constitutionally because of the
myopic thinking of our law makers who negated section 18 of the 1999
constitution with section 6(6)(c) of the same constitution, but
conventionally education is the foundation of every societal growth and most
be treated with utmost serenity.

It is so disheartened to know that the present ASUU strike which
started July 1st has lingered for too long and both parties are yet to
fashion out any possible solution to this crisis which has crippled our
educational sector. It is now a shame on a nation who claims to be the giant
of Africa whereas about a million university youths are all sitting at home,
roaming the society idle and vulnerable to anti social activities instead of
being engaged in educational activities.

Let’s take our minds to so many years back when education was sophisticated
in Nigeria, when education was cheap, where basic amenities were provided
like good hostels and well equipped libraries etc, where there was no ASUU
(then AUT) strike to keep students longer in school than anticipated. My
pain is that, the same people who enjoyed the good days of our educational
system are now the ones responsible for the dilapidated state encountered by
our modern day educational sector.

Sometimes I begin to wonder whether a father who had honey in his growing
days will give his child bitter kola when there is a better and more refined
honey available. Will it be reasonable to say that such a father is wise or
foolish! Why have those in charge of our educational sector decided to
upturn the biblical portion that says “the glory of the latter shall be
greater than the former?”

We have cried in our hearts, we have prayed, our parents are complaining but
yet no head way. They have negotiated in their selfish interest until they
got mute, Suswam failed, Sambo has taken over. Where lies the solution? I
can never be a part of the general proposition which postulates that when
two giants fight, it is the grass that suffers it but rather I support the
proposition that when a goat is pushed to the wall, it reacts. Nigeria
students have been pushed tirelessly to the extreme and this is the right
time for us to grab the bull by the horn, we cannot continue to suffer and
smile, we cannot continue to sit at home idle, to tweet, hoping they become
reasonable some day. This is the time for us to define their duties and
obligations in case they have forgotten. This is the time for us to bring an
end to educational instability in our Nation, the solution to this menace
lies on us.

I enjoined all Nigeria students to return back to their various schools
instead of roasting at home like corn, let’s form a formidable team across
the nation and embark on a peaceful protest but it should never get to the
stage of destructive riot. Like I earlier stated, failure occurs because of
two reasons; Doing things without thinking about them and thinking about
things without doing them. It is often said that a closed mouth is a closed
destiny, so therefore we have to talk for them to think, it is time to
Occupy Nigeria once more

For us to get a responsive government, this is where I come in, this is
where you come in, and this is where we all come in. In my favourite cliché
“there is nothing wrong in Nigeria that cannot be corrected with something
right in Nigeria” I believe in Nigeria and I believe in our future