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ASUU vs FG (2)

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By Dele Sobowale
0803-787-1553: Presido, ASUU is as guilty as the government. In a recent interview, two graduates couldn’t write one million, twenty thousand and six naira in figures! O.

This should have been part of last week’s article but, we had space constraint. As we can see from the text message above, ASUU does not even enjoy the total support of adults in Nigeria. That weakens the solidarity which it should have enjoyed in this struggle. Please read on.

IN order to have a handle on the way out of this Mexican stand-off, I paid a visit to the 1999 Constitution to find out if some people’s rights, specifically students and their parents/guardians, are being violated.

Chapter IV listed 11 different rights but none unambiguously provided for right to education. That tells us something about the thought processes of the military who gave us that document.

They placed less value on our right to education than on our right to acquire property. Can a case brought by an ingenous lawyer on behalf of concerned citizens under the “right to life”on the grounds that life, these days, without education, is life dissipated?

Can the role of the visitor be repealed to remove one monster while simultaneously the universities are granted autonomy in the employment of their staff – both academic and non-academic?

It seems obvious to me that a situation in which one employer exists nationwide for over 30 universities has made it possible for that number of universities to be closed at the same time.

Until Gowon seized the existing universities, universities of Ibadan, Ife, Nsukka, Lagos, Ahmadu Bello and Benin were independent of each other.

To the best of my knowledge, no two universities were closed in those years for the same reasons and at the same time.

The question is: what prevents a return to the old system other than the acquisitive instinct of politicians and “militicians” who always want to have big budgets from which they can cream off billions for themselves without thought to the consequences for higher education and also the power that the leaders of the four unions in the universities wield?

After all, there is no equivalent of ASUU etc anywhere else in the world.

Yet, unless we find a legal and peaceful solution to this matter, the devil which always has an active employment agency for recruitment of idle hands will lend a hand in promoting a violent outcome; mark my words.

Already, the number of undergraduates involved in crimes is on the increase – from those involved in armed robbery to forgery, prostitution, drug peddling, ATM scam and now alleged attempts to kidnap top government officials.

Our kids are becoming desperate and from their collective rage we could, as a nation, end up with undesired consequences.

What for instance would happen if all Nigerian university students decide to stop any elections in Nigeria in 2010 and 2011 unless their matter is resolved? We might discover that we lack the police manpower to deal with that eventuality.

With police overwhelmed nationwide, who else can restore normalcy? Then what becomes of Nigeria’s fourth attempt at democratic government?

A word is usually enough for the wise. Unfortunately neither government nor academia is overflowing with wise people – intelligent and versed in administration of government, yes.

But no wisdom. Because as Norman Cousins had warned, “Wisdom in people consists of anticipation of consequences” (Vanguard Book of Quotations, p.274). At the moment neither party is considering the consequences.

I had three long telephone conversations with ASUU members – all pointing to a non-negotiable settlement on their own terms. The entire world was plunged into World War I on account of the murder of an obscure arch Duke from 1914 to 1918. Over twenty million people were slaughtered.

That certainly was not what the assassins of the Duke intended. ASUU and the Federal Government have inadvertently declared war on the kids in federal universities and an indefinite stalemate has resulted. Soon, every Nigerian will feel the lash.

The Federal government and ASUU are simply leading us to a destination unknown by their mutual resistance to negotiations – irrespective of the arguments in their favour.

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