Dr. Kawu Ahidjo Abdulkadiri’s article with the above title continues to spark both heat and light. Many ASUU sympathizers, unable to refute the substance of the writer’s submissions, have resorted to the cheap, predictably diversionary tactic of divining the motives of the write-up. Two people wrote to ask if I was a Goodluck Jonathan sympathizer for allowing a piece critical of ASUU to be published in my column. It’s sad that I have to remind anybody that I am one of President Jonathan’s fiercest critics and that a criticism of ASUU isn’t an endorsement of Jonathan.
Of course a whole host of people were enlightened by the article and have the good sense to know that the article’s intent was to invite debate, to inspire introspection, and to provoke critical inquiry. I had intended to start my comparison of the remunerative packages of university teachers in America and Nigeria in light of ASUU’s constant references to international benchmarks, but I thought I should give some space to some of the reactions that trailed Dr. Abdulkadiri’s article. The sample represents the range of responses the article stimulated.
The challenge I have in relating with the article is not in its content, which I think is brilliant and unassailable in its argument, but in the assumption that there is a rational, forward-thinking government in place in Nigeria. The current crop of people (in government) in Nigeria only think for the day in which they have food to eat and cars to ride in. Note the deliberate placement of "in government" in brackets, because it is not only those Nigerians in government. When I was a student from the early 90s, ASUU's strikes led by Attahiru Jega made great appeals to reason, and they were ignored, not only by the governments of the day, but the same Nigerians whom a better educational system would have benefited.
Every opportunity that provides for analysing and proffering solutions to the educational crises in Nigeria is ignored by the youth, who make up 70% of the population, and the elders are busy stealing or condoning it as pastors, chiefs, imams, and police. So, I do not want to discuss Nigeria in sectors anymore. Discussing the problem in sectors, I fear, makes one lose sight of the pervasiveness of resignation by the individual; everyone thinks they need to join in looting the country and thus should bid their time for that ignoble opportunity. Of course, if you sense a resignation in my position, I think I can explain mine in the fact that I believe the Nigerian problem should be dealt with brutally, using some mass action to clean the slate, learn, and write from scratch. None of us is clean enough to exonerate themselves.
Odoh Diego Okenyodo, Abuja
''Each academic staff was entitled to a car loan equivalent to his/her annual salary charged at 2% for administrative cost (stop laughing). They were also entitled to a car refurbishment loan for those who wanted to refurbish their old cars, again charged at 2%...For housing loans, each academic was entitled to 8 times his/her annual salary to buy a house.'' This must be news to many many of us. I can authoritatively say that since 1995 to date I have never heard of anyone benefiting from any of these juicy loans.
Ahmad Usman Altie. University of Abuja
The issue of Nigeria is: whoever can hold the government to ransom gets heard and responded to. Others may die of malnutrition no matter the genuineness of their plight. When I spoke to a medical doctor 3 years ago, I understood why incessant strikes are far from being stamped out. The gap being the present remuneration and the target/expectation is enough to contain a continent. Agreed, the less than 1% lucky Nigerians are trapping up to 90% of the national income as their birth right and that of their family members.
But I think there should be justice in the fight for an honourable income. It can be done at the level of the NLC. This is my suggestion: the salary scale of the various professions should be tallied with the ILO standard. Thereafter further progress/demand should be negotiated in terms of percentage. If for example, doctors and lecturers have already attained 40% of the ILO standard, they should wait for the others--agriculturists, teachers, waiters, etc.--to catch up. After that, we should be moving together in equal leap, negotiating with the gov‘t in terms of the same (percentage) point. This is justice.
Abdullahi AbdullahiGinya, Minna
I'm a follower of your weekly columns and never doubted your integrity, but just couldn't help verifying these unbelievable demands. I was before this article an ASUU sympathizer but I can't decipher why a lecturer should be paid allowances for doing what he's employed and paid salary for. Are these lecturers trying to get their own share of the national cake? Are they really fighting for better graduates or fatter pockets?
Ibrahim Haneef (email@example.com)
Thank you for the expose on the ASUU strike. Even though it is just the first part one can see how ASUU outwitted government negotiators right from the beginning i. e. consideration of appropriate salary structure for academic staff. Government officials lost the thread of the arguments from there. I had argued with friends that the way to break the ASUU stranglehold was to retire all academic staff, pay off their entitlements (gratuities, pensions, etc.), close the universities for two years during which extensive rehabilitation should be undertaken to help reverse some of the decay. At the end of this exercise, government should undertake fresh recruitment of academic staff under new terms and conditions. Those previously retired can apply if they wish. Academic qualifications are now almost useless, so the closure will not be a serious loss. Without this radical approach ASUU will call continue to hold the country to ransom.
Mohammed Tukur Usman (firstname.lastname@example.org)