IN a normal circumstance, President Muhammadu Buhari’s ultimatum to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to end the five month-old indefinite strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, should come as cheering news to anxious Nigerians.
But, after over seven years in the saddle, we have seen the president issuing these ultimatums and “marching orders” and holding numerous “emergency meetings” with security and military chiefs over our security woes which continue to worsen. The president’s “marching orders” are now seen as wands that produce no magic.
Even the ultimatum itself was shrouded in several controversies. The government’s failure to resolve this strike had been blamed on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, by the Union and the Education Minister, Adamu. The Minister accused Ngige of claiming the right to lead the negotiations based on International Labour Organisation, ILO, statutes.
ASUU had also served notice that it would not accept Ngige’s presence on the negotiation table. To this effect, Buhari ordered Ngige to withdraw and let Adamu head the effort.
We see this controversy as childish and diversionary. We are of the view that the task of working out plans to end the strike of ASUU or that of any other workers union under the Federal Ministry of Education is strictly the responsibility of the Minister, Adamu.
The Labour Minister is a negotiator.
Adamu’s reported withdrawal for Ngige is a gross display of immaturity and dereliction of duty. In more serious countries, he should be considered unfit to remain in office.
In any case, what were his credentials as an educationist that warranted his appointment as Education Minister?
What achievements can Adamu show to justify his full two terms of seven years and counting?
What new things will he bring that he withheld for the past five months while our children languished at home?
Now that the president has directly saddled Adamu with the responsibility of ending the ASUU strike in two weeks starting from Tuesday, July 19, 2022, let us hope that on or before August 2, 2022, our long suffering university students will be back in their respective institutions.
The cold attitude of Minister Adamu might be because his children are schooling in universities abroad. When he was confronted with this fact in his office by the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Mr. Sunday Asefon, in February 2022, the Minister angrily walked out.
The final buck on this ASUU strike is on Buhari’s table. It is his government. We expect him to lead from the front and solve this problem once and for all.
We hold Buhari to account.