BY: NFOR ERIC SIBEN
I would like to first and foremost acknowledge and appreciate the efforts so far made by the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in this ongoing struggle. It is on record that ASUU as a trade union has since from its inception in 1955 as Association of University Teachers (AUT) taken issues affecting its members and the funding of the general infrastructures in public universities to heart. However, confronted with monstrous, corrupt and insincere governments over the year, it has had it very difficult to realize these objectives and thereby resorting to STRIKE ACTIONS which has always been the last option. All successive ASUU leaderships are very conscious of this fact and have maintained the tradition religiously even though at the detriment of the system itself, students and national development.
Remember I said strike is always the last option, this is because it is the only language our politicians understand since they do not have interest in funding education in this country due to the fact that their children school in foreign universities or private ones within Nigeria and so to hell with the children of the poor who sometimes lose many years of their youthful lives staying idle at home because of ASUU strikes.
I fear for the leadership of ASUU at such a time as this because this period of the ongoing negotiation with the Federal Government is crucial in either to make or mar the image and integrity of ASUU leadership in particular and the union in general. I believe that these incessant strikes can be avoided if our leaders insist on having all the demands met. There should be no room for further promises because the three principal actors on the government side-the Ministers of Labour, Education and Finance were the very people that signed the agreements they later refused to honour. Then why believe in any of their promises again now? VERY DANGEROUS ISN’T IT?!!!
If ASUU can continue with this struggle for two years and have all its demands met and stay for over twenty years without going on strike, to me that will be more honourable and respected. Why all these piecemeal payments? Politicians in Nigeria do not respect a university professor because the highest thing they can do to drive home their demand is to embark on strike of which some have lasted for only four days-ridiculous isn’t it?
ASUU leadership should not accept promises because that will mean mobilizing for another strike in no distant time which even ASUU members may resist. Nigerians are fading up with ASUU because of its incessant strikes. They have refused to understand that ASUU is fighting for their own interest even the students see the union as anti-development not minding the fact that it is the government that is responsible. There shall come a time that even these students will attack us on campuses due to strikes.
ASUU leadership should know that once strikes are declared, the costs/consequences are always enormous both on its members, some die of frustration and harassments; students, some die of accidents, and parents’ resources wasted. So why accept promises from people that will never fulfill them?
ASUU LEADERSHIP, DO NOT SUSPEND OR CALL OFF THIS ONGOING STRIKE BECAUSE OF ANY PRESSURE. WE ARE BEHIND YOU IN THIS STRUGGLE. DO NOT DISAPPOINT US AT SUCH A TIME AS THIS!!!!!!!!!
Nfor Eric Siben is a Lecturer with the Department of Political Science, University of Maiduguri.