Opinion: ASUU Between the FGN and Nigerian Public – By Dikko Muhammad
IT’S over two months now that public universities have been shut down as a result of a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. At the beginning, the FGN portrayed itself as serious and concerned government that won’t allow the strike to escalate into months first, by admitting that the demands by the Union are genuine and second, it starts discussions to reach an agreement with the Union.
However, the FGN is still at the promise level as far as the strike is concerned. It refuses to show commitment. What is saddening about the strike is the manner in which it was perceived by Nigerians. Clearly, Nigerians owe ASUU a debt of gratitude for the little infrastructural development we see in public institutions in the country.
There was NEVER a government in Nigeria that cared to improve our public institutions without any pressure from ASUU. But still, there are people who still condemn ASUU for its strategy. Their reasons are not farfetched.
Some people are sincerely uninformed about ASUU’s struggles. They don’t know that even TETFUND is an ASUU idea sold freely to the FGN. They didn’t know that ASUU actually wanted a legislation that would stop public office holders from sending their kids abroad to study in a bid to ensure that these people are concerned about the pitiful sight of our institutions. Some people are so misinformed that they are calling for FGN to probe money given to ASUU. These people are so lazy to google for information to know that FGN does not give money to Unions.
ASUU will definitely assist the government to probe the spending of money by the Vice Chancellors. Whenever the FGN approves money to varsities, the money goes to accounts under the custody of Vice Chancellors who are appointed by councils that are made by the President and State Governors.
Students don’t matter about the services in their universities. This is unfortunate. Sound education is not just spending four to six years in a university. It entails having state of the art’s labs, libraries, and lecture rooms. ASUU is the first Union in Nigeria that cares more about facilities in the working place than mere salaries and allowances.
Finally, there are people who say ASUU is ungrateful. That its members earn huge salaries. All these rumours are peddled by people who are apologists of the government. Some even say that ASUU is being political.
These same people were happy and supporting ASUU in 2013 when the Union was in strike. Among the ASUU supporters then was the present Minister of Education.
One good thing about ASUU is a Union in all positive senses of the term. It’s never distracted by name calling or failed promises by the government.
The ASUU that persevered under the military dictatorship will also win today under a democratic government.