By Jimoh Abdullahi
THE diminuent and hum tone of industrial action that will soon head for a crescendo is credited to the new Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU’s boss, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who on Monday, July 26, this year raised an alarm that the Union may unsheath its lethal sword from where it’s hanged. He alleged that the Federal Government has breached the agreement between it, that is the memorandum of understanding, MoU, of December 24, 2020.
The Federal Government on the other hand, disavowed it through the spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Ben Gong. This tussle seems to lie on the fact that the Federal Government has so far not acknowledged the initiative power of ASUU in its creation of University Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS.
That is why it claimed that UTAS has lacuna for, or doesn’t give room for a tax deduction. Such statements also makes Osodeke to retort and disclaim it. These are parts of what apparently brought a petulance on the part of ASUU, in particular following its inability to receive Earned Academic Allowance, EAA, as promised, as well as the selective payment of salary among its members.
It is crystal clear that these are rudimentary developments that can reset fresh strikes in the universities, especially when the excruciating wound left by the last year’s strike that was conditionally suspended on December 23, is still being nursed. No universities under ASUU can boldly come out to tell the public that it’s not affected by the year 2020 age-long strike.
Usman Danfodio University will not forget the havoc wrecked on its academic calendar not to talk of the University of Ibadan that did not conduct 2020/2021 session admission exercise due to the strike that had greatly affected its programmes.
This humiliating chess game playing by both parties has prompted a lot of well-to-do individuals, particularly, the business tycoons and the public officials who wish a standard and stable education for their wards to dash abroad since they know how degraded their home country’s education is.
Only few of them enroll their children in Nigerian private universities. They value effectiveness that an academic stability can bring, hence they gathered money to settle ticket, accommodation and school fees of their wards abroad. These people are unconscious that they are boosting other countries’ economies. These set of children will come back upon graduation to hold sensitive positions or even secure employments in top organisations.
But what will happen to the less privileged children after a myriad of pause-play and zig-zag academic years and when four years courses turn to six and when six years courses turn to eight? Roaming the streets or engaging in dirty jobs like cyber fraud, robbery, kidnapping for ransom only few of them will accept their fate and engage in menial or laborious jobs to keep body and soul together.
Those are the jobs for children of the less privileged parents. It’s not their fault, especially when they do not get advantageous offers like their colleagues in the Western world; good facilities and social amenities that can make business innovation and creativity to thrive.
Dr. Lola Akande of the Department of English at the University of Lagos, recounts in her article entitled “As Nigerians continue to flee” published by The News on July 11, how her colleague in the department was writing reference /recommendation letters for Nigerians seeking admission to foreign universities. This in essence exhibits a caricature in the country’s public universities, which some rich parents cannot cope with .
More so, both parties see each other as a puissant and strong iron rod, which one cannot bend for the other to the detriment of innocent students who are at the receiving end of their scuffles.
It is palpable that students have been edgy lately over the upcoming strike and the degree of their tension shows that only God can tell what can happen, if the thunder of ASUU strikes again.
Perhaps, both of them do not know that this academic instability is a conflagration that has defaced and which may totally burn down the country education’s hue. The fact still remains that ASUU as the custodian of academy, undoubtedly knows how sensitive its chosen profession is, while the Federal Government similarly knows that ASUU is a pest that’s feed on money.
If it is only money that can propagate the evangelism of the union, then what causes this staccato? Please don’t let the future of the innocent students be at stake!