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If ASUU Were Militants

ONE of the few good things about our governments is that they do not leave us guessing about their real agenda for too long. Nobody can fail to praise the present administration for its relentless push for peace in the Niger Delta. It is becoming clearer that nothing is more important to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua than peace in that part of the country.

The Federal Government is too busy restoring peace in the Niger Delta to bother with critics who have rightly tied Niger Delta concerns to the government efforts at saving the tottering economy from collapse. Ordinarily, that would be a worthy cause, except that the economy in this sense is so narrow that it means resources to oil the straining wheels of government.

Concerns about the Nigeria Delta itself, are purely self-serving. The thoughts of shortage in resources to run governments propel government in momentary actions that appear to have deeper implications than the immediate ambition of increasing availability of oil resources.

The present moves wear the cloak of amnesty, a feisty offering of reconciliation to militants in the Niger Delta, which would be over after 60 days. The Federal Government has its attention on amnesty.

With the issues about the militants being the only ones the Federal Government accord attention, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, chose a wrong time for its strike.

There should be no further illusions that education is not as important as ASUU thinks. When secondary and primary school teachers were on strike last year, government ignored them for a long time. Government, after,  misquoted the  Constitution, to abdicate its role on fixing wages.

ASUU over rates the importance of university education. It also forgets that those,  who can negotiate an end to the strike, have their children either in universities abroad or in private ones in Nigeria, where lecturers do not strike. The President, Vice President and the Minister of Education were university lecturers, but that does not approximate passion about education.

The Federal Government ‘s team could walk out of the negotiations because the negotiators have no real stake on ensuring education returns to the schools soon. Government negotiators asked ASUU to return to work, as a condition for further negotiations.

Government does not worry about how these strikes affect the quality of the products of our universities. It has no qualms about hundreds of thousands of young people in our universities whose future strikes put on hold.

ASUU sees strikes as the only way to get governments to act. The victims are the poor whose children attend public universities.

Whether the Federal Government continues with the negotiations or not, ASUU should not lose hope, though the agreement it is trying to hammer into place started four years ago.

ASUU members could weigh how profitable it is to be militants in this millennium than to be teaching something their employers do not want to pay them for.

One day, education would be important.


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