Clarifications need to be made on the full meaning of ASUU and what the body represents.ASUU stands for Academic Staff Union of Universities and not Association of Students’ Union of Universities and as such it’s established mainly to fight for the interest of university lecturers. Pressure group has been unanimously described as a group of individuals sharing common interests, who come together on the basis of shared opinions and bonded interest in order to influence governmental policies and decisions as it affects their group-specific interest.
Just like the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) fights basically to promote the interest of doctors and surgeons across the country and not for their patients, and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) struggles to protect the interest of lawyers, advocates and solicitors in the country and not of their clients, ASUU also exists fundamentally to protect the common interests of all affiliated university lecturers. Is it not surprisingly unintelligible to read contradictory comments and unguided statements being said on different social media handles about the ‘selfishness’ of ASUU as mostly perpetuated by Nigerian students.
Having established the fact that ASUU is a pressure group and seeks to protect the interest of her members, why then should we call it a selfish body when they’re not created for the interest of the Nigerian students in the first instance? Many students only read blogs on social media without embarking on background check to authenticate the news being disseminated on the disagreement between ASUU and the federal government. They say ASUU is only fighting for her pocket and I ask, should they fight for students’ pocket when our interest varies from theirs? Apart from the obscure IPPIS saga many believed is the cause of the crisis between ASUU and FG, how many are informed of the 2009 Agreement, 2012 Universities NEEDS Assessment and the 2017 Negotiations between FG and ASUU before the ongoing 2020 ASUU indefinite strike?
What does National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Association of University Students (NAUS), among other students/youth associations represent when we keep expecting ASUU to fight for or represent our interest? Most students do not even understand the reason behind the existence of these wings as many thought they’re merely political tools for our so-called unconcerned politicians. Students’ bodies that are supposedly fighting for the common interests of the students turned themselves to instrument of political oppression and victimisation while the students they represent care less.
We all know the economic hardship the ongoing global pandemic has foisted on all and sundry. It’s clearly overt how many households struggle to live from hand to mouth and how individuals mostly artisans, traders and workshops’ owners hardly earn meagre anything to cater for their daily needs. Have you ever wondered the kind of life university lecturers are living during this period of lockdown amidst industrial action without being paid their basic entitlement for over five months?
According to ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, “What we need from government is sincerity. If government is sincere with us and we come to a satisfactory understanding, we are not strike mongers; we don’t enjoy being on strike either. We only use it as a last resort. It is because successive governments do not listen to persuasive argument and do not honour agreements.” It’s no gainsaying that many Nigerians already see ASUU as strike mongers and I blame media houses for not exposing the realities between both parties.
Little will students of non-policy and politics-related discipline understand the nitty-gritty of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and its contagious effect on the payroll system of the university lecturers and other academic staff. ASUU has already demanded the federal government to initiate a process that would lead to the validation of its alternative salary payment platform, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). Why then should the government which has a consolidated fund ready at all time for paying the salaries of judges, senators, representatives, honourables, ministers and other political appointees fail to adhere to the provision of the teachers of all professional bodies and individuals in the country?
––Alamu Azeez, University of Ilorin.