The never ending face off between ASUU and the Federal Government over financial matters is not new. Nor did it start today. It is a matter which every graduate of a Nigerian University of sixty years and below has had to contend with at one time or another.
What is new is the dimension introduced by the nation’s Minister for Education when he recently pronounced that lecturers who have been on strike for the past five months must pay compensation to their students for lost mileage during the period of the strike, even threatening to sue the union over the issue!
The Minister’s pronouncement has raised the stakes in this matter and introduced an entirely new dimension in the prolonged war.
Nigerians are used to threats by governments to implement a mass sack of all lecturers, as was done by former dictator Ibrahim Babangida, as well as the no work, no pay’ policy being used by the current administration to starve ASUU members out of the strike, but never this that ASUU must pay compensation!
It has not ceased to baffle some of us the contradictions in the policies and actions of the Buhari administration. While this administration sees nothing wrong in using billions of naira in constructing rail lines and purchasing security vehicles for banana countries, it vehemently refuses to invest in the education of its youth and thus the assurance of the continuity and progress of its nation. What level of depravity or warped mentality would reason like that!
The lecturers, who appreciate what quality education can do for the country, have rightfully, if you ask me, refused to back down from the Federal Government’s intimidation. This last stance by ASUU should be supported by all who mean well for this country. Anyone who has lately sneaked a look into the learning environment of most Nigerian public universities would understand the position of the lecturers. It is common knowledge that the recovered Abacha loot alone should handle most demands by ASUU to secure the future of this country. When you add to that to the billions recovered from grass-cutting contractors, official political bandits in executive go vernment offices and other elected thieves in high places, there should be more than enough to address ASUU’s very sensible and moderate demands.
Now we hear that the Federal government has imposed a N50 levy on all financial electronic transfers. Dr. Garshagu Atovigba, a lecturer with Benue State University Makurdi who exposed this latest fraud in an fb message he titled “Time to rise and March” pointed out that “Imagine that 200m Nigerians did at least one electronic money transfer yesterday, implying FG has looted N50 times 200m or N10,000,000,000 (N10b) in just one swoop from poor Nigerians. For 100 days this amounts to N1tr!” The lecturer wondered when the national Assembly passed such a law.
Yet with such looting of the masses’ going on, the administration insists it cannot meet ASUU demands which would ultimately return decency and sanity to our universities!
I say let the strike continue.