Over the past three months, the Nigerian news space has been inundated with tantrums, lies, or half-truths mischievously peddled by four ministers or their agents in government against ASUU, after the latter rolled over its strike yet again, over the government’s insensitivity and inability to honor its agreement with the Union. The key components of the Lecturer’s demands are Improved conditions of service, deployment of UTAS as the payment platform for University workers, and revitalization.

Almost all the time spent (or wasted) so far on this current strike has been dissipated on testing and counter-testing the homegrown UTAS, developed free of charge by ASUU and presented to the government as a preferred means of paying University workers, as against the foreign, profusely error-prone IPPIS, which is roundly guilty of amputating the salaries of University workers. As of the last count, the aggregate performance integrity test result of UTAS stood at 99.3%, whereas the government has failed to subject IPPIS to even half of the integrity tests it insisted that UTAS must pass. ASUU challenges the government to conduct a public integrity test for IPPIS the same way UTAS has gone through if it is sincere in its anti-corruption mantra!

As is common with this government and its agents, when available facts or records are against them, they simply resort to shifting the goal post to find excuses and escape routes. In the current circumstances, the facts of ASUU are stacked against them, but Chris Ngige and the Education ministers, Adamu Adamu and his former junior minister, Emeka Nwajiuba, have been applying Fabian tactics in addressing the renegotiation of the University workers’ conditions of service, long overdue since 2012! Such ploys are manifest in the parallel quests by Emeka Nwajiuba and Chris Ngige (who now claims to have withdrawn his ambition) to become President of Nigeria, even when some important parts of the ministries directly under their watch are going up in flames. University lecturers across Nigeria, their students, parents, and family members alike, will surely forget the current debacle as though it never happened, and give massive support to any of the two gladiators who emerge from the party primaries…till then!

The lies of Ngige, Nwajiuba, Pantami, and Adamu will surely exhaust or wane substantially this May ending. So, be firm and patient ASUU members. It seems very likely that the current Aso Rockers never believed that eight years will ever end…and that’s how illusionary power could be – poignant, transient, and ephemeral!

Remember this time about seven years ago, 2015 to be precise? These our current political stars (or failures if you like) mounted rooftops, delivering mellifluous speeches and songs to Nigerians on how they’ll turn the land into an Eldorado of sorts, including the ravaged education sector. Seven years on, those melodious speeches and lyrics have become the outright antithesis to Chris Ngige’s labor ministry, the education ministry, and, indeed, the entire Nigerian government. The statistics are there for doubting Thomases to see vis-a-vis the official prices of fuel, diesel, kerosene, exchange rates of the dollar to the Naira between 2015 and now, etcetera. Gulfs of differences abound everywhere, and are truly symbolic of the change that was promised Nigerians!

The role of the National Assembly leadership is unequivocally complicit in exacerbating and escalating the ongoing ASUU – FGN imbroglio. It is a shame of humungous proportions that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, would be acting rather unconcerned and as though he has forgotten the promise he made Nigerians just about two years ago when the conflagration of #ENDSARS protests was raging across Nigeria. Could it be that he was under duress too when he vowed that his National Assembly will not sign off a budget that does not sufficiently care about ASUU’s demands? Maybe!

More annoying is the unguarded, horrible, and provocative statement credited to President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, to the effect that the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the FGN is unimplementable! This is rather very unfortunate vituperation coming from someone of Lawan’s ilk, who ordinarily, should be sympathetic to ASUU causes, having been once in the trenches with them. But that is what you get when you associate with the wrong folks, as justified by the popular marketplace adage of “if you can’t beat them, you join them”… in stoking up lies against ASUU and the Nigerian citizens at large!

And, in that Ahmed Lawan’s well-rehearsed homily, he had further explained to bemused journalists, viewers, and listeners across the world, that Nigeria does not have the kind of money ASUU is asking for, and how much is it, Lawan? No answer till now.

However, who is fooling who in all this melodrama? Ahmed Idris, the Accountant General of the Federation, and Lawan’s brother from another mother have been arrested by the EFCC for stealing public funds of over 80 billion Naira only. And just how much is ASUU asking for, if one of Lawan’s partners in government could nibble off 80 billion Naira, all to himself without the government noticing it? And ASUU has been crying as the nibbling continued unnoticed for nearly seven years. What an irony that Ahmed Lawan’s country does not have the funds to fund ASUU demands! We do hope that you will not blame ASUU when students and their parents hit the streets as happened during the #ENDSARS protests.

ASUU should keep their eyes on the ball and remain focused as a Union fighting almost with bare hands against a heavily armed force already deploying hunger as an (il)legitimate weapon of war. The hunger itself shall soon wane as it did in the last strike action in 2020. In no distant time, confusion will certainly set in amongst them. When the party tickets are finally given and denied, feelings of disappointment, betrayal, and angst leading to bad blood will set in. New marriages of strange bedfellows will fill the air, and the liars against ASUU may have gone home to roost. Then, the new Sheriffs in town will be overwhelmed by public outcry and may not have any option but to yield to the simple demands of our dear Union.

In the final analysis, ASUU will surely come out victorious, but good dosages of patience, courage, and tact are key to achieving these results. Was Achebe wrong when he opined that “unless the penis dies young, it must surely eat the bearded meat”? Maybe, the coming weeks will provide answers to this question.

Aluta Continua,
Victoria Acerta!


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