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ASUU in the age of nastiness

By Tony Afejuku
06 May 2022   |   3:00 am
Let me enter my column straightaway with these observations: I did not think of dwelling on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at this point in time after the series

[FILES] Federal Government’s team and the National Executive of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Let me enter my column straightaway with these observations: I did not think of dwelling on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at this point in time after the series of straight five weeks series I terminated but did not conclude not long ago on the universities’ dons’ abject take-home remunerations. Of course, I knew that I would revisit the subject of our universities’ lecturers’ contaminated and adulterated remunerations – but now is not the time.

For a minute or two let me keep you in abeyance with respect to the current engagement. But the title is influenced somewhat by an ardent reader of this column who is himself a first-rate columnist penning for an equally very popular tabloid.

Based on our chats on several matters he told me that “Now is the age of nasty experience” in this country your country my country our country. I sought his kind permission to appropriate his quoted words someday. He granted my request. But I am not using them exactly as I thought I would. And as all followers of this column know, this past Monday was the occasion of the international symposium by zoom which the Nigerian Academy of Letters in conjunction with the National Universities Commission-Strategy Advisory Committee organized to celebrate Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo at 88.

The mightily mighty man was the subject of the column last Friday. I intended to take a delightful as well as a critical look at the happy event of pleasurable pleasure today. But I am keeping a tight leash on my academic, literary, journalistic and scientific emotions relating to the sumptuous evening until a more auspicious time.

Now, why am I making the little observation(s) I am making now relating to ASUU so soon again? The simple answer I must provide and I am providing you here now: This is a nasty time that is more than a nasty time for this clime. And General Muhammadu Buhari lacks the predestined genius to preside over this country’s affairs.

The retired general’s dramatists now and in times to come will always see him in a nasty dramatic light that captures this nasty age which is his presidential age. His acolytes as spokespersons or as officers/officials or as ministers’ words are replete with nasty, repugnant words which underscore this presidential age. We must forever pooh-pooh the ministers (and this president’s presidency).

For example, those officers and officials who call themselves ministers of education and of labour in the central government of GMB are actors – actors who are bad actors in a nasty time, in an age, in the age of nasty experience in twenty-first-century Nigeria – your country my country our country. Any time the ministers speak I see their childish happiness and blandishments upon our universities’ lecturers and professors who they see as their dolls and toys.

Barely a week or a little more than a week ago, the junior education minister who shall remain nameless because my nib must not dignify his name here said – or was quoted to have said – that university academics could not and cannot dictate to their employers how to be paid their remunerations.

In other words, whether they like it or not, our universities’ dons must subject themselves to the central government’s fraudulent IPPIS’s platform and the accountant-general’s abhorrent payment schedule and nasty formula platform.

The central ministry of education is becoming a place run by mini-adults whose prattles underscore their consciousness as children as we find in fiction and poetry and dramatic literature. It is not yet time for me to dwell as I really want to on the matter of IPPIS and the artlessness of its creator(s) and defenders, but suffice it to say that their babbles are of those who lack the rationalization that one would expect from top officers and officials who are supposed to be aware of the sensitivities of their positions and offices. Why can’t the junior minister and his errand fellows and prattlers in his and other ministries and departments demolish ASUU’s UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution) with scientific logic that counters scientific logic?

The babbler also was alleged to have said that the striking lecturers and professors should not be paid their worthless salaries that cannot even last the dons (for) a fortnight at the most. He should be tutored, as a child should, that university dons are researchers outside their classroom teaching, lectures and other pertinent engagements. But this really is not what I should tell him. Don’t expect from an inferior-thinking being what his or her inferiority will not let him or her give you. This is one of my personal definitions of our age of nasty experience which I ruminated upon with glee-less glee but which the minister in the news of dull news would ponder with gleeful glee of heartless glee. Be not confused, my dear, dear readers.

The minister in the news of dull news should explain to Nigerians and especially to his Imo State people and fellow Igbo Nigerians how he came by the solid one hundred million naira he allegedly is paying or has paid to collect the presidential form that would qualify him to enter for his party’s presidential primaries.

Before it escapes me, the mini-man should capture for us what the Nigerian electorate and masses “voted” for GMB to do for them. Did they ask the president and his party to do to our public universities what they are doing to them? The despair plus misery everywhere, is it not the despair plus misery that is already passing on them the obvious verdict in the tone of lachrymose historical and political judgment? Soon they will understand that the nasty experience of our current age will spell out for them the meaning of the melancholic romance they are having with the destiny of the Nigerian people who are their employers. They think that this cannot happen to them in their acme of political wickedness. Their rituals are expiring. Juju too dey die.

This is where I should say only one or two words to the labour minor or mini-grand-adult who keeps on puzzling me with his memories of ceremonies and labour recollections on television time after time. He says always that he is a conciliator who every now and then treats university dons and professors who are his academic, medical, professional, emotional and intellectual superiors as favourite servants of government and its allies who are the parents of the dons and professors and professionals. In his logic that confounds and always compels me to puke, he likens, without really being fully aware of it, the central government and its allies as ASUU’s favourite parents. Yet he wants ASUU to lick the government’s vomit and accept the putrid decay of the public university/health system.

In a recent television appearance on ARISE TV “Morning Show” he said several things that portrayed Nigerian workers, including members of the NMA and ASUU and other university unions, as their tender pet dolls if not pet animals.

Swine! I can give a thumbnail sketch of his and the central government’s medical and academic “professional-servants,” who travelled abroad but are now returning or have returned to build the economy for the government, their master-cum-parent. But I am withholding my concise sketch in order not to ache further our aching national mood. What is important is that this age of nasty experiences and of an obsession with the cruel politicians will soon pass away. ASUU should remain steadfast until trumpets and drums and brass bands sound the sound of our new age of wonders. We have never had it so bad. These ones, these civilians, are far worse than bandits and soldiers and military juggernauts of yesteryears. But we are entering a new epoch of gleaming gleam, O comrades! Thunder!!!

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.