From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director-General All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh. Lukman, has said that neither the Federal Government nor the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is blameless over the continued industrial action running into nine months now.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, titled ‘ASUU and indeterminate power struggle –The Boko Haram logic’, he claimed that there is no idealogical difference between ASUU and Boko Haram terrorists, frowning at the nine months ASUU strike.
The PGF DG further noted that as far as ASUU–FG agreement is concerned, Nigerian public university education, and by extension, the whole education system is in a state of perpetual flux.
According to him; “Many respected Nigerian academics have publicly celebrated the point that ASUU has never lost any struggle against Nigerian government, whether military or civilian.
These are being said without any remorse or acknowledgement of the damage ASUU strikes has done to Nigerian education system.
“That we are even thinking that closure of universities and our schools can produce any form of victory with reference to any form of outcome demonstrate our nasty state of mind, which brings us closer to the Hobbesian reality that civilisation would have long resolved.
“How can anyone with a child whose dream and aspiration should include being educated, celebrate in any form the closure of schools? What difference is such a logic from the Boko Haram objective of abolishing western education?
“It is very sad that it is common knowledge now that in the last 21 years, ASUU was on strike for a record period of more than four years. Worse still is the fact that we have people who claimed to be public intellectuals that present such a reprehensible scorecard and by any standard a scandalous credential as achievement is sickening.
“At this rate, we may as well accept that Boko Haram terrorists are also public intellectuals. In any event, who is a public intellectual? Aren’t Boko Haram terrorists engaged in critical thinking, research and reflections? If their mission is to abolish western education, how farther away from that mission is the activity of any group that cause closure of our universities for nine months in one academic calendar?
“If our universities are closed for nine months, what does that mean to the remainder of the education system? Assuming that secondary students are able to pass their exams, will they gain admission into universities? Where will the space come from when existing students have not graduated?
“Like my friend and Comrade, Chido Unomah would probably deduce, “we are all Boko Haram”, we can go ahead to make all the deductions, the result is clear gradual closure of western education in Nigeria. However selfish we want to be even as airbrushed portraits of individuals thinking only about our material gains, we must try to reawaken our patriotic sense of duty as products of education system that was never interrupted for one day in our formative stages.
“May be the story is different for younger Nigerians, but every Nigerian that went to school between 1960s and 80s would attest to the fact that there was hardly any strike at all levels of Nigerian education system, even for one day. This is not because everything was working.
“In fact, between 1981 and 1983, in the case of primary school teachers, there were periods of non-payment of salaries running into months. Most of the academic disruptions in our universities and tertiary levels around this period were as a result of students’ protests largely demanding for better welfare conditions for students.
“No need to go into long excursion of records and dynamics of academic disruptions due to students’ protests in Nigeria. The dynamics and relationship of those protests with challenges of developing Nigerian educational system is a different matter entirely. One can however say, without fear of any contradiction that protests, and strikes were the last resort.
“This is hardly the case in the present reality facing us as a nation. It is almost impossible to cite any country in the world with a pathetic record of strike in universities for nine months in one academic calendar. As Nigerians, we should be ashamed and traumatised. We must all be worried, concerned and committed to resolving this problem permanently.
“This is where if we have public intellectuals at all in Nigeria, we must mobilise them to come up with proposals. Often, part of our failing is to attempt to make proposals based on assessments of who is right and who is wrong. At this point, it is important for everyone to take responsibility. Nobody is right and everyone is wrong. Neither ASUU nor FG is right. Both ASUU and FG are wrong. The best way to demonstrate this is with reference to the agreement that ASUU members are celebrating.
“Part of it include the release of N40 billion Earned Academic Allowances and another N30 billion revitalisation fund. There are other unresolved issues, which include the demand for the replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) with University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and implementation of the FG-ASUU agreement of 2009 bordering on university autonomy and funding,” he noted.
Writing further, Lukman added: ” “It is clear that with reference to ASUU–FG agreement, Nigerian public university education, and by extension, the whole education system is in a state of “perpetual flux”. There will never be a ‘stable equilibrium’ and circumstances of negotiating challenges may continue to be ‘fortuitous’, with the possibility that anyone capable of muscling out the other party will succeed.
“It is no longer about the development of the Nigerian child. Both legal and theoretical evaluation of ASUU demands and the agreements reached would confirm that many of the issues demanded by ASUU and subsequently produced some agreements are outside employment contracts, which should have served as the jurisdictional scope for any collective bargaining negotiation,” he noted in the statement.