The Deradicalisation of ASUU and the Universities? – Amputated Negotiated and Matters Arising

By OM’ERANMUKAANDU

First, let me share this Yoruba proverb:

O so si’ni l’enu, o bu’yo si; iso re, ko se gbe mi, iyo re, ko se tu da nu. (You farted in my mouth, and seasoned it with salt; I cannot swallow the toxic gas, and I can’t spew out the salt!) What choice do I then have?

That is how I can describe the situation ASUU, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, has recently found itself. For me, we have shown obedience, to the rule of law – or rule of court. But at the same time, there is the fervent need to show resistance as we remain focused on the next line of action on the struggle. Non-violently. It was Mahatma Ghandi who said: “…Non-violence is the law of humanity, violence is the law of the brute and real life is about Taming the brute who manifests himself every day in our lives… For me, God and Truth are controvertible terms…” A quote that I love so much because it is evergreen.

Anything short of an Obidient move…would have painted us as being brutish while the strike lasted. I have counselled Strategic Communication and a Psychiatric Examination of both the current and aspiring leaders, and the led. I am happy that seem to have been accepted, in context.

By the time we SUSPENDED our last industrial action on Thursday, 13th October, 2022, we were aware of where we were. Our National Executive Council, NEC met and “reviewed developments since February 14th 2022 when we embarked on the action, though not TIC- Total, Indefinite and Comprehensive. We knew where we got to on August 29, 2022 when the action became indefinite…” Yet, we went ahead to suspend because the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, (Dis)Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, surreptitiously working for his Principal, intervened on behalf of the leadership of that Chamber that is supposed to uphold fairness and equity. Now, we are in the middle of NOWHERE! We had a sea ahead of us and a monster on our heels. Should we have chosen to disobey the lower and high courts, we would have lost our reason for embarking on the strike. If we chose to suspend the strike – which the nation was hungrily awaiting with bated breath – without ANYTHING in our favour financially, it would have been like the fart already in our throat! To swallow or spew… We all know the choice we made.

In my last intervention, titled
ASUU: Judiciary and their Lordships of Shroud Justice, published on 08.10.22 by the indefatigable ViewpointNigeria platform, I described the judgement from the Temple as Shroud Justice. Now, we have been bound in a shroud, before the shrine of our so-called representatives and we cannot see the shining brightness of the daylight. Since October 14th, 2022, our voice has shrunk, significantly signaling the deradicalization of our ebullient Union. We have sniffed the onion and our eyes are teary.

Our NEC met and “noted the series of meetings with Gbajabiamila… as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress made so far…” I call that pyrrhic progress, since we now suffer from its scorching embers, non-stop, thirteen (13) weeks on. Respective Senates of our Universities approved amended Academic calendars immediately and at gunpoint, we have been carrying out our responsibilities of TEACHING which was truncated by our strike, since October! Yet, the government slapped us viciously in the face at the end of that month by paying us AMPUTATED casual wages, called prorated salaries, with demonic gusto. Are we not the candidates for the psychiatrists? We squelched and squealed but our voice has been muffled. We vituperated to no avail.

Now, the amplified deliberation by NEC “on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2020 – a coinage forced down our throat and lexicon! – on the contending issues that led to the strike…” appear AMPUTATED if not futile now. With the issues largely and unsatisfactorily addressed, we hurried, like the law-abiding Union that we are, without seeing through the camouflage of deception ably personified by “the President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari..” and took a decision which has been repudiated by the same group of people over and over. We allowed the media, like the law become a donkey for us, and we rode into the Yuletide, blindfolded by patriotic zeal for our tertiary education system.

Now, Ngige spits venom yet again! That short-put, an aberration and desolate specimen of human who should ordinarily not have had the temerity to say a word in our presence if not for failure of reason. Where is the Negotiated document with Gbajabiamila? Where is the man himself, after convening a kangaroo Summit which has produced only their agelong, desired Education Bank to enslave and impoverish students and their parents through loans? Where is the promise by him to ensure the acquiescence of his Principal, Buhari to defray our withheld salaries for 8 months and the other half of another as soon as we call off the strike?Are we leaving all this to them, even now that we are almost killing ourselves with slavish vigour to conclude that which was abruptly truncated? What new strategies are we coming up with, in the face of government’s inanity and insensitive posture, and deradicalization of our beloved Union? Who is asking questions about the appropriated sums meant for the payment of lecturers’ salaries for eight months, and of course, the half-month for October, even as the Senate approved over N800 billion as Supplementary Budget for the year 2022?

We should not be pained that we cannot hold on on that strike TILL ETERNITY as we resolved in February 2022 in our Branch Congress, while declaring the action! Now we know better to go the Obedient Way and the way in which the Labour of our heroes oast and present shall never be in vain. A word is more than enough for the wise!

We should consider legal and Aluta approaches out of this impasse as I call on the Ohaneze Ndigbo to call Ngige to order.
We have to start thinking of electing either a lawyer or a psychiatrist as the next President of ASUU. This call is coming on the heels of the recent debacle that lasted eight months- a period that the University system cannot reclaim or redeem, ever. The intrigues that played out show that the Union might have to grapple, going forward, with more issues bothering on legality and psychology of the demands and the machinery or procedure of prosecuting same.

No Retreat, no Surrender! Forward Ever, Backward Never!

(OM’ERANMUKAANDU is the pseudonym of Comrade Prof. ‘Diran Ademiju-Bepo, {A.K. 107} former Vice Chairman, and Immediate Past Acting Chairman of ASUU, University of Jos branch).

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The Deradicalisation of ASUU and the Universities? – Amputated Negotiated and Matters Arising

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- Citizen Journalist, public Opinion Analyst Writer and Literary critic