SHOULD I BETRAY ASUU?

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The federal government of Nigeria, through the Account General of the Federation (AGF), is making so much fuss about employer-employee relations without taking into account the facts of the modern work environment, especially this second decade of the 21st century.

Isn’t the AGF aware that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on the rights of the working man (and working woman, too)? Basically, workers are free men (and free women) who have rights to make inputs to the structure of the system they help to develop and they should proffer advice on how best that system should be tuned.

It is incumbent upon employers to listen. This is the reason labour unions exist. Nigeria’s university labour union is the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). I have been a member of ASUU for close to 19 years now and I cannot pinpoint an instance when ASUU’s stance on an issue was to con government or to create a platform to dishonestly profit its members. ASUU has always spoken for the best interest of public education in Nigeria.

Maybe this public education is not what the top honchos of present-day Nigeria want because they keep churning out graduates from English private universities who, by the way, are their children. The “very incorruptible” and “demi-prophet” Muhammadu Buhari is firmly hitched onto this bandwagon of hypocrisy. Now, ASUU tells me and others not to sign on yet onto the IPPIS scheme that has not taken care of the peculiarities of academics on account of the heavy workload they do and on account of the suspicion that Western donor agencies have given stringent pre-loan conditions that the FG must meet.

Come to think of it, why does the FG require a World Bank loan? To fund the new universities at Daura, Funtua, Biu, and Bauchi? If it means steamrolling ASUU to access that loan, is it worth it? Knowing these basics, should I break with ASUU and sign-on to the IPPIS? Nah, mate, nah. I am with ASUU all the way. My only gripe is that ASUU was too quick to do election assignments and I hope the union has learnt its lesson. Happily, in the last general elections, Atiku Abubakar was my man.

Sunday Adole Jonah,

Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State