By Andrew A. Erakhrumen, PhD
Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management,
University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
We will not give up on this country, our country, Nigeria! Yes, those of us who do not have any other place to call our own, or run away to, will not give up! Coincidentally, this category of Nigerians is far in the majority, in terms of population. Hence, we will continue to contribute our quota to the efforts at keeping this ship floating on the currently turbulent waters. This will be done in consonance with close monitoring of the activities of some unpatriotic people, who may not even be Nigerians, that want to ensure that the eventual sinking of the ship get realised, since they have places they perceive as safe if the need for a refuge (for them and their people) arise – if there is any negative occurrence here. We will continue to engage such people, constructively, for the benefit of the majority. Before we plunge into the main argument here, we will like to state, clearly, at the onset of this intervention, that our effort is to correct misconception in a message and not necessarily to dignify the messenger by attacking him/her.
However, since human beings (as messengers here) are not programmed machines, sometimes, their personal/group’s concealed intention(s) is/are revealed through body language, knowingly and/or unknowingly, during the conveyance and delivery of messages. This is particularly true when the messenger(s) is/are part of the group(s) whose plot(s) generated the message – good or bad. This is the reason why someone who was supposed to be a “conciliator” glaringly behaved like a “conspirator” on a Nigerian Television Authority’s Good Morning Nigeria of Monday 28th of December, 2020. This “conciliator”, on this live network programme, exuded, in large quantity, what a friend in the humanities described as Mephistophelian disdain for academics in the Nigerian University System, as we espoused in an article entitled “Systematic Demeaning of Nigerian Academics”. Of course, when you try and succeed eventually at sending out a specific message of interest, for instance, by speaking or writing, it is expected that you will be patient enough to receive feedback(s). Is that not what is called dialogue?
Experts in the field of communication studies and practice are in a good position to help us. While waiting for help from these experts, we will like to move quickly ahead in order to cover some grounds. Few days ago, effective from 12:01am of the 24th of December, 2020, the members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as a result of their acceptance of Agreements, tagged: Memorandum of Action (MOA), reached with Federal Government of Nigeria on the 22nd of December, 2020, suspended the erstwhile total, comprehensive and indefinite strike they embarked upon since the 23rd of March, 2020. The suspended strike, as always, was to call the attention of government, and other stakeholders, to earlier unfulfilled Agreements dating back to 2009! Many of the stakeholders in education sector heaved a sigh of relief on hearing this good news. Nevertheless, based on past experiences in this country, there are good reasons, for some, to be sceptical about government’s “sincerity”, concerning (timely) implementation of this MOA and others, as others in the past were implemented in the breach.
We also share, with patriotic compatriots, this cynicism regarding governments’ “sincerity” concerning (timely) implementation of these Agreements, as we are too experienced to be carried away by euphoria. This is so because we have been seriously puzzled for long; we have been wondering and asking why the strikes embarked upon by members of ASUU linger, in a familiar similar pattern, before government “see reasons”, certainly half-heartedly, with the Union. The answer to the puzzle is gradually being revealed. Fortunately, there is a recent exposé, (based on evidence and sound reasoning), concerning some of the undercurrents responsible for, and/or contributory to, almost all the unnecessarily protracted industrial disputes between ASUU and Federal Government of Nigeria, and this includes the recently suspended strike action earlier mentioned. According to a Nigerian adage, breeze has blown resulting in exposing the underside of the fowl! What are we trying to say here? In just three days after ASUU suspended a strike, the Vanguard Newspaper published a story on the 27th of December, 2020.
The said story was entitled “ASUU strikes helping to actualise Boko Haram’s ideology” purportedly credited to someone with the appellation “Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum” (whatever that means!). This is a country where we so much love titles! Excellency this and that! Honourable this and that! Distinguish this and that! Big titles, no value! Some of our people can get so drunk with these (vain) titles that add no value to Nigeria’s developmental project. Anyway, in the story, it was claimed that this individual wrote a press statement lamenting how the series of industrial actions by ASUU has continued to help actualise the Boko Haram ideology of destroying the education sector. This is one of the most (if not the most) outrageous, illogical and dim-witted comments we have heard or read about, in recent history, concerning the available criticisms of ASUU struggles to reposition Nigeria’s public universities. We do not want to believe that, either this fellow does not understand what ASUU’s consistent struggles, over the years, were all about or he is just playing unintelligent pranks.
Apart from the likely reasons, adduced above, for the somewhat silly comments, we also know that (Nigerian) politicians love, and they always struggle to, be in the news for any reason(s). Therefore, they believe that issues concerning ASUU will likely afford them unmerited publicity. Additionally, they, as hatchet men, must be seen, and heard, to be doing the bidding of their principals! Of course, there is no need to enumerate what ASUU struggles are all about here. They have been well documented to the extent that only someone who is lazy, in asking questions for objective answers, will claim ignorance of them. However, do we need to inform this fellow that ASUU struggles have been prosecuted since the late 1970s when the unfortunate phenomenon he is trying to link them with was non-existent? In fact, we will like to ask this fellow some questions: Should everything in Nigeria be about politics and politicking? If yes is this fellow’s response, then should something as grievous as threat to continuous unity of Nigeria be discussed in a way reminiscent of a “beer parlour talk”? Are ASUU struggles what led to terrorist attacks on some higher institutions in northern part of Nigeria? Check the links below: