Let me begin by saying that both the lion and shark are masters of their territories, but a lion cannot hunt in the ocean and a shark cannot hunt in the jungle. The fact that lion cannot hunt in the ocean doesn’t make him useless and that a shark cannot hunt in the jungle doesn’t make it useless; both have their own territory where they can do well, meaning (you speak we speak, you write we write, after all we are the masters of the pen). Therefore, let not ASUU members sit on their bones!
Categorically speaking, the claim that the bone of contention between the Federal Government and ASUU is IPPIS and that some people are ghost workers drawing money from government coffers is not correct. It is a petty malice and laughable. In fact, this proves that black is black (Steve Biko).
First, the fact that we have to debate whether or not IPPIS is destructive is proof that it is! The inadequacies of IPPIS in addressing universities’ peculiarities are clear since February 2020 when ASUU members who willingly submitted themselves were paid. So scold us as you wish, ‘a struggle without casualties is no struggle’. We are no children; we cannot be toddling on the same issue for years. We still maintain that the ten-year-old Pigwidgeon (IPPIS) could not respond to the myriad of challenges of under-payment, over-payment, non-payment and erroneous payment and therefore the effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise.
In the words of W. Edwards Deming, “Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the system and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.” And UTAS is the change, inevitably.
ASUU is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, unequivocally, nothing, I repeat, nothing in the Nigerian university system, at least since the late ’70s, has been achieved without a major struggle. Glaringly, the struggle is about conditions of service, funding and university autonomy contained in the 2009 and the 2017 memoranda of agreements and the 2013 memorandum of understanding.
Prior to these latest agreements, there were previous ones over which the government made a volte-face.
On the claim of ghost workers in the system, let us patiently turn to the government and say that it is shortcomings from its side. “Defensiveness often reveals an area of our lives where we’re in denial,” so said Kyle Idleman. Fish out those ghost workers and punish them – says our great Union – but some people will not hear you regardless of how much, how loud, how truthful, how loving or how profound you speak. We wish you well.
I repeat, please FG summon courage to bring the ‘ghost workers’ to book as “decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world,” in the words of Olivia Booth.
Finally, ASUU had demystified regimes and has indeed come a long way with scars and wounds from the struggle, but our heads are unbowed (Prof Au. N. Nnonyelu, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka).
Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Threat or no threat, warriors are not always the fastest or strongest men, but they are the ones who get there strong when the going gets tough. So, let not ASUU members sit on their bones!
Nuraddeen Danjuma, PhD, writes from Bayero University, Kano