By; AUWAL AHMED IBRAHIM GORONYO
To some people the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is a directionless and ungrateful union. Those people that look at things from the outside not from the inside, think that ASUU is a waste of time and a hopeless union, that waste the precious time of Nigerian students, alas, ASUU is the frontliner in salvaging the remains of NIgeria’s education.
The members of ASUU are enduring the insults, instigation and the pains of Nigerians bowling of all quarters to make sure that Nigeria’s education has a pinch of salt touch. All academic staff of Nigerian universities sacrifice their pride and prestige to ridicule and jeering of all sorts to contribute efforts for Nigeria’s educational restructure.
And if you think Nigerian government is the saint and ASUU is the devil, why must Nigerian leaders send their children outside to study?
In this century Nigerian schools are divided between the poor and the rich and it is specific that the public schools are for the poor while the private for the rich class. A 2021 research says Nigeria sent 76,338 students overseas to study in 2018 and ICEF Monitor statistics indicates that there were 100,000 Nigerian students enrolled abroad in 2020 and this amounts to huge revenue loss.
NIgeria’s high politicians and businessmen send their children outside of the country to avoid any obstruction of study while leaving the children of the poor to battle for created problems because in all feud, ASUU is basing on the acts and memorandum of understanding between them and Nigerian government.
Without ASUU, Nigerian tertiary education will be like the primary and secondary schools education we see, barely without seats, roofs, fence and comfort stations in some schools.
In fact, ASUU doggedly secured the establishment of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and now TETFUND is in all sets of our educational system; be it primary, secondary, private schools and organizations. Indeed, this is a great blessing that Nigerian education ever had because it proffers solution to problems of Nigeria’s education.
As some people think, ASUU is only for their own, this is a fallacy because ASUU is always with its students’ concerns and welfare, it makes sure that students interest and laws are protected. Like it used to be when few resourceful Nigerians across the borders traveled to neighboring African countries to secure their degrees within few months, Academic staff Union of Nigerian Universities fought this corruption and irregularity and the schools were banned.
ASUU is very committed to the development of NIgeria’s education like other unions, it is a good example of all our academic unions because it keeps to its promises no matter the pain and the joy it faces.
Nigeria’s education is faced with some irregularities and the unions expected to protect the interest of their staff, sometimes don’t have the might and the power to protect the interest of their laws and ethics because of incapacitated ability and sentiment. Many sad events happened to teachers of primary schools, secondary and even colleges of education and nothing has been done.
What happened in Edo State in the year 2013, when 836 teachers were sacked by the state government?
What was done when Kogi State Government was given bailout to settle its teachers’ salary of 20 months, but slashed the salary and made preferential payment?
What was the fate of the 21 thousand teachers expelled by Kaduna State Government on mandatory test of competency that the state union described as not conducive and other thousands were made to write it again?
What happened when some states like Sokoto and Enugu financially treat their lecturers of colleges of education and polytechnics like the teachers of secondary schools? Rivers State almost owes five years salary to its primary school teachers and what has been done about that?
Although a lot happened with the assistance of Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) in some states, but what has changed? Nothing has changed because Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) which is the union for primary and secondary schools is paralyzed and weakened to protect its members and afraid to guard their laws and like NUT, non teaching staff of universities and polytechnics and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) are not flamboyant like ASUU to sustain strikes.
The people that have other thinking about ASUU and any other unions should know that a new professor in Nigerian public university collects N342,442 (US$824) as monthly salary and from that meager amount of money, he has to conduct researches and attend conferences (though TETFUND sponsors publications and studies) to give the best to his students but as election nearer we are seeing politicians buying contesting presidential form for 100 million Naira when millions of Nigerian students are redundantly wasting time as their schools are locked while ASUU for the sake of Nigerian education are on “No Work, No Pay” action.
At present, many academic unions are on strike for their welfare, the students’ welfare and the schools’ dividends. ASUU strike is reaching three months, non teaching staff of Nigerian universities are also logged with government and ASUP and its non teaching staff are preparing for their shutdown but no matter what, like the saying of a wise African man, “it is better not to start the fight that you cannot finish” and a Hausa proverb says, “if you cannot fight for what’s is your own devise play and jokes to get it by trick”.
Nigerian teachers are dwelling in abject poverty as inflation rises despite that in some states, teachers spend five to 10 years without promotion. This sabotages the service guidelines and with such pains of teachers, some people see the other side of them because they want the good for their generation. But if all unions were like ASUU, Nigeria’s education would have a good path because they keep promises, not to compromise on their demands.
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim Goronyo is a lecturer with Kaduna Polytechnic and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org