ASUU strike and the premature victory celebration: A short response to an impulsive attack dog.

Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik, PhD.
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

I read a statement from Lauretta Onochie that “President Buhari will be remembered as the man that stopped incessant strikes in our universities. I don’t know whether to cry for Nigeria for the sort of people we have in government or cry for President Buhari for the sort of people that he surrounded himself with. Or better still, on both scores.

I pity the President as her boss. It’s a tough job to be employed as an “Attack Dog”, especially at her age. An attack dog sees everyone as an enemy except the master that is feeding it with bone. The surprising thing about her level of reasoning is that she studied in a university in the UK and lectured in a College in the UK. You would have expected that her exposure would have influenced her sense of reasoning. On the other hand, you can’t be too surprised with the attitude of a person whose brain is driven by the stomach.

Lauretta Onochie got her first degree from a Nigerian university. She then left for the UK where she did a postgraduate program at the University of Greenwich in 2005 that qualified her to teach basic education in the UK. She worked at Epping Forest College as a lecturer for 6 years. She left in 2011 to be a Consultant in a firm. Life is expensive in London and she seems to be in dire need of a good job to sustain her family. She then realized that politics in Nigeria is one of the most lucrative jobs around the world. So, she left her family in the UK for politics in Nigeria. She was successful and became an aide to the president in 2016. An attempt to make her an INEC commissioner was rejected by a Senate dominated by her party members. Her encounter with the Senate brought out how vividly falsehood has become her headgear.

Lauretta has experience in higher education and has got an idea of what is required to make an educational institution work. While the government has made life difficult for professionals in the education and health sectors and they are moving (“japa”) to London, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc, for better job offers to support their families in Nigeria, she, on the other hand, is paradoxically making money in Nigeria as a politician to sustain her family in London. When you have people who don’t believe in Nigeria but feed on the nation as the managers of the country, and the people are powerless then, you need to just keep praying for the deliverance of the country from unconscionable undertakers like Lauretta Onochie.

It will surely be an achievement to end these needless strikes in Nigerian universities by finding a lasting solution to the problems that are responsible for the strike. Unfortunately, beyond shameless brutish force, the government has demonstrated a total lack of capacity to do this. That Lauretta Onochie has most dishonourably made this disgraceful situation a fancy medal for the president shows how despicably shameless she is as a person. Interestingly, the solutions are right there in their hands but for their predatory and cavalier orientation, they ain’t ready to work with them. But you cannot end the strike by using some autocratic law to strangulate workers and labour unions while the root of the problem is growing deeper.

Buhari as a member of the opposition party in 2014 said: “If you could recall, at the time the government said it was voting N7 billion for the conference, ASUU was on strike. And teachers of other tertiary institutions, like the polytechnics, were on strike. This strike was on for almost an academic year and a serious government, if they had N7 billion to throw about, would go and negotiate with ASUU and the teachers’ organisations and the teachers’ unions of the tertiary institutions of the polytechnics downwards so that our children will remain in schools”. What has he done differently? It seems to be even worse than the previous government. Lauretta should be telling us the government strategy for sustainable and purposeful education in Nigeria.

I was hoping that the “Attack Dog” and the other agents of the government will celebrate President Buhari for ending the “incessant” ASUU strike for putting up the necessary structures to reposition the Nigerian tertiary education sector to compete with the rest of the world. I was hoping the agents of the government will celebrate their kids graduating from the new and improved Nigerian public universities. But she has her kids in London and celebrates mediocrity in Nigeria. Tell her to bring her kids and grandchildren to the university where she got her first degree.

To those hailing the filthy-mouthed attack dog for her statement that ASUU wings are now clipped based on a judgment that an appeal can be filed on, this is a reminder that she is around, for now, to take a share of the loot to enjoy in London. When they are done in 2023 and could not secure a similar job, she will leave you with the destroyed public universities and get back to London to chill with her family.

All the tactics tried so far to break ASUU have failed. If you are praying that FG succeeds in crippling ASUU, in a few years, there may be no public university for your kids to attend. It is in the interest of the nation for all the stakeholders to stick together for the right thing to be done so that there won’t be any need for another strike in 2023.

President Buhari at UN General Assembly on Monday, 19th September 2022 said: “No country can develop beyond the capacity of its educational system”. As you listen to Lauretta and the other government agents, ask yourself about the policy of the government on education for the past 7 years. Ask yourself how the government has improved the capacity of our education system. Ask yourself why everyone in the government has got their kids in foreign or private universities when they can just reposition our public universities to be good enough for their kids.

Mal Adamu Adamu in 2018 requested the declaration of a state of emergency on education that never happened. As Adamu Adamu said in 2013, “This nation owes a debt of gratitude to ASUU, and the strike should not be called off until the government accepts to do and does what is required. So, instead of hectoring ASUU to call off the strike, the nation should be praying for more of its kind in other sectors of the economy”. His statement is still very valid in 2022. The ASUU struggles for these years gave our universities a semblance of a university.

Every successive government classified ASUU as an opposition to be crushed. That was re-affirmed by Sen. Ita Enang on Channel’s “Politics Today” on the 23rd of September 2022 on behalf of Buhari’s government. He said, “FG has tolerated ASUU for too long”. A Barrister and a SAN could not provide answers to straightforward questions that were asked by Seun. So, sad. You can’t blame him. He is tired of being former this and former that. He is a yesterday man working hard today to get something tomorrow (after the 2023 election). There are plenty of them in circulation. Ask them a simple question, they will dodge the bullet.

Our dear loquacious presidential attack dog Lauretta, Nigerians want to remember Buhari for ending insurgency, insecurity, food insecurity, poverty, governmental profligacy, inflation, unemployment, kidnapping, depreciation of the naira, economic backwardness, capital flight, high cost of living, despondency, brain drain, grand corruption, oil theft, etc not for bullying ASUU for its patriotic struggle for government to properly fund public university education in Nigeria.

Fellow Nigerians, as you listen to Lauretta and the other government agents on their elitist position on the education system of the country, ask yourself why her likes based in the UK will not come to pick up a job in our universities but will lobby for political appointment in Nigeria.

Always remind yourself that as we make our bed, so we shall lie on it.


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ASUU strike and the premature victory celebration: A short response to an impulsive attack dog.

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About The Author
- Citizen Journalist, public Opinion Analyst Writer and Literary critic