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ASUU, UNN and the abracadabra of earned allowances

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University of Nigeria

The nearly a decade long suspended Nsukka branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU–UNN) has become a tumour on the buttocks of ASUU.  The national body clearly lacks the gumption and immunity to cure it with the public opprobrium  that it deserves. While not wishing to wash its dirty linen in public, common sense must have prevailed over the national leadership after its recent national strike and victory over the Federal Government where it secured the accumulated Earned Academic Allowances of its genuine and striking members, but excluded ASUU Unilorin, and the putrescent and long suspended ASUU –UNN.

It was the triumph of the power of unionism and solidarity over the selfishness, greed and vacillation of saboteurs.  While all the academic staff from the universities of Lagos, OAU, ABU and others who supported the strike smiled to the banks and collected bumptious sums of money to celebrate Christmas, new year, and the holidays in the flowering months of December and January, the Academic Staff of University of Nigeria brooded in gloom as they clustered in their dark and unlit houses, flats, and corridors to their classrooms, to gossip and read about their lucky but patriotic colleagues, while they speculated on when the Federal Government, in its own volition and generosity, would pay them their Earned Academic Allowances   .

The wuruwuru and illegitimate chairman of the suspended local branch was under mass pressure by its etherized and exploited members, and had to unleash his abracadabra in response to why the ASUU-UNN branch could not celebrate Christmas and New year with their earned allowances, since many of them were still paying check-off dues and not cognizant that their branch has long been dismembered by ASUU. Meanwhile, the National Executive Committee, riding the crest of victory seized the moment to reconsider the benign but troubling Nsukka  tumour at its buttocks. It mandated a fence mending delegation, possibly chosen and led by the Nsukka zonal chairman, who had long been dining, wining, and sleeping in bed with the corrupt ASUU-UNN branch chairman for many years. Had the National Executive Committee of ASUU in appointing a delegation assumed, that the Nsukka zonal coordinator, had all these years remained immune to the competitive quest for primitive accumulation, that had ruined its premier UNN branch which includes efforts to capture vice chancellors of the zone and to gain access to the resources both in cash and kind meant for the development of these universities?

The presence of the zonal coordinator actually demonstrated his complicity with the illegitimate and fraudulent ASUU-UNN chairman, and the corrupt oligarchy which include ex-chairmen that have impoverished the universities in our zone. First, the Nsukka zonal chairman with his three zonal delegates sat with the ASUU-UNN branch chairman on the same bench and platform to solicit instructions from him while addressing the emergency congregation. Second, as a prelude to the commencement of the gathering of 200 academic staff-many who turned up because of the hope of recovering their Earned Academic Allowances –the Nsukka zonal chairman warned that the National Executive Committee of ASUU frowned at all those members who wash the dirty linen of ASUU in public, among them, this writer.

Since when did ASUU, the beacon of light of fundamental human rights which includes freedom of speech and association, according to the African and United Nations Charters on human rights, turn to persecute the messengers rather than listen to the messages? The Nsukka zonal coordinator, a presumed expert of the law and professor probably was not an active member of ASUU during military rule when its leaders were incarcerated for the sake of securing these basic fundamental human rights from the military regimes with their decrees. The Nsukka zonal coordinator went further to incite local members of ASUU-UNN branch to deal with their colleagues who write to the public or speak out on union affairs, once ASUU-UNN membership is restored. Of course no free man can tolerate being a member of any organisation where fundamental civil liberties are lacking and would exercise the prerogative without apologies to exit from such a social body.

The zonal coordinator with his delegation was also swift to dismiss any notion to dissolve and remove the unwanted, illegitimate and corrupt ASUU-UNN branch chairman and his executive members who are his partners in crime by incongruously insisting that only the National Executive Committee of ASUU can project such powers which it can exercise only when it has recovered ASUU-UNN’s past levies and check-off dues and respectively lift the suspension. He then directed the illegitimate ASUU-UNN branch executive to collect and recover past check-off dues and levies which are to be transmitted to the National Executive Committee without finding out what happened to the previously paid check-off dues by members.

The final gavel of the Nsukka zonal coordinator and his delegates as manipulated by the corrupt branch chairman of ASUU-UNN was the abracadabra on the Earned Academic Allowances. The zonal coordinator concluded that it was only after the check-off dues and past levies which was determined as N10,000 to be deducted from the salary of every academic staff  had been collected by the corrupt chairman and transmitted to its national body, will the prospect and horizon for releasing the Earned Academic Allowances of the ASUU-UNN branch brighten.

Well, enough is enough with these spineless and shameless agents of charlatanry! As history will have it, in conjunction with the concluded and victorious strike action of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and its fraternal organisations, the federal government has included ASUU-UNN and its Unilorin counterpart in the payment of their hard-won Earned Academic Allowances.

While we anxiously await this money, we also expect a new round of wuruwuru and abracadabra from our local chairman and the Nsukka Zonal Coordinator, “ndi isi oche”.

Finally, the National leadership of ASUU must consider the tumor on its ASUU-UNN branch as a prelude to its metastasis to other ASUU branches. It cannot treat it with kid, tribal or ethnic doctors but with maximum gumption. ASUU-UNN is at least, the mother of all south eastern branches of ASUU. It is not expected to be led by state branches, but is to provide guidance for its zone. It is not Unilorin and cannot be ignored to suffocate in its own putrefaction.  The National Executive Committee must urgently empower and dispatch a national delegation for the surgical excision of this tumor and the replacement of its corrupt branch leadership at ASUU-UNN with its putrid tentacles. This action will enable it to sustain its momentum and regain its full strength to ensure future victories for the development of Nigerian Universities.

• Onwubiko  is a professor  of  biochemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.


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