Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
The current perceived incompetence of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to tackle the myriads of problems confronting Nigeria wednesday came on the front burner of a public discourse as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) knocked President Muhammadu Buhari’s change agenda.
The ASUU’s National President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who led the talks, described the change mantra of the ruling party as cosmetics change, and therefore, called on Nigerians to get ready for a real revolutionary change.
Ogunyemi, who was the guest of honour at a public lecture and distinguished service award organised by the University of Ibadan chapter of the union, at the Trenchard Hall of the university, said ASUU is ready to take the lead and educate Nigerians on this development.
The ASUU president stated that the current Nigerian leaders seem not to have any template to govern Nigeria, but only come about to play cards with the development of the country.
He challenged Nigerians to stand up and take their future in their hands in a courageous and real revolutionary change, to be led by the union which is set to start from the walls of Nigerian universities.
Speaking on the theme of the public lecture entitled: ‘Good governance: A Surgical Strike against Economic Recession’, Ogunyemi stated that “we have two in one events today. We will also engage the Nigerian state on many issues that affect us on good governance, especially to develop Nigeria and what is required to do so.
“Nigeria is our pride. In the diversity, lies our strength, and in unity, lies the basis of our struggle.
“Comrades, ASUU is not pleased with what is happening today for at least three reasons. In the first place, as a union of intellectuals, we cannot stay aloof. We cannot watch helplessly while the ruling class continues in its act of debasement of the country.
“What has happened in this country in the last 10 years or so should be enough to transform this country if not to another Japan, but at least maybe to another Malaysia or Singapore. But unlike Malaysia or Singapore, what was sold to us in Washington consensus. I am sure my colleagues will talk more about it.
“And that was what produced Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). What we’re having now is SAP in another form. Somebody came up and said I will not devalue the naira, what is happening to the naira today? A free fall! Somebody said I will not increase the price of petroleum, what is happening now? The price is almost doubled! And it is not impossible that in another few months, if we don’t put our acts together, we will just wake up and see that the price of pump price would be swayed.
“Is this the kind of change you asked for, a change without transformation? Nigerians asked for change, Nigerians did not asked for second enslavement. Did we? That is why we must be interested in what is happening in the country.
“It’s like the Nigerian ruling class do not have a template for governance or development. As long as that continues, we’ll be regressing and not progressing.
“For those who are calling themselves progressives, we are yet to see the progress which the progressives are building.
“Freedom is not a free gift. It must be fought for. It’s not a free gift. There is no nation that enjoys freedom without fighting for it and grows.
“Nigerians, we have not asked for our freedom, if that must happen, the change they’re talking about must start from our campus.
“We must sow the seed of that change-the correct change. The change they are talking about is cosmetics. We are talking about revolutionary change. Are we prepared for that? We need to gird our loins, as ASUU is committed to doing that.”
In the same vein, the guest lecturer, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, said: “Good governance can trigger economic recovery as decision, execution and outcomes of government activities at the national and sub-national levels aim only at common good.”
He said Nigeria needs a structural overhaul of the economy and must be ready to do things differently and appropriately. The guest lecturer also decried the lack of roadmap for Nigeria to be industrialised, and also condemned persistent blame of recession on fall of crude oil.
Adedipe said: “It is an escapist mentality to adduce the current recession (which has started to abate though) to the dampened crude oil prices in the international markets.
“The fundamental problems are fiscal indiscipline, crony capitalism, lack of a development agenda, and selfish/parochial interests.
“There was no commitment to the roadmap for Nigeria to become industrialised i.e the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP, 2014) is a mere document.
“As well, there is medium to long-term development plan, as more serious nations have done. All that we gave our attention to is the ‘envelope system’ of resource allocation to programme and projects that lacked substance on national value like SURE P!”
The Chairman of the occasion, Professor Omotoye Olorode, called on Nigerian leaders to exercise state power to achieve good governance.
He said: “What particular government does is to exercise power on behalf of the class that installs it. In the current case, the neoliberal consensus is the political line of the ruling class as represented by the dominant ruling class – PDP, APC, APGA, ANPP etc.