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ASUU’s ‘breakaway group’

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President of the President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi. PHOTO: NAN

All those who have thought of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a top-notch radical union rightly committed to the continual betterment and eternal progress of our universities and country may be changing their minds after all. Why? All kinds of troubling stories and events have been coming out of our top temples and campuses of learning for quite some time. But it seems things have come to a head now in the regime, in the presidency, of the current president of the great union – or should I say the once great union? Let me keep in abeyance an attempt to answer this innocuous question.

Who is the current president of ASUU other than Professor Biodun Ogunyemi who on Sunday this new week, this passing week, was lambasted, bombed, by a junior academic called Dr. Niyi Sunmonu called the “National Coordinator” of a “splinter group” or “breakaway group” of ASUU. The name of this “splinter,” “breakaway” group is “Congress of University Academics” (“CONUA”) as reported on page 16 of Sunday Vanguard of October 13, 2016.

I trust that Professor Ogunyemi is already set to dismantle the little known or yet to be fathomed Dr. Sunmonu of Obafemi Awolowo University, I presume. Till then let me offer my sympathies to Professor Ogunyemi over the current travails of the University of Lagos Branch of ASUU with respect to the stupid matter concerning a devout member whose devout conscience failed him when it shouldn’t have. I am going to devote a full essay soon, at the appropriately right time, to this stupid matter and all the stupid and not-stupid remarks and judgments spewed so far even when we have not heard from the other side despite all the hullabaloos. Those who are crucifying – or have crucified – the great pastor and grand don of dons of foreign and biblical tongues, who must remain great and grand until he is de-robed, have they taken his plea in the presence of his prime accuser, the sting operator, who he may want to cross-examine and re-cross-examine before his head is cut off in this season of decapitations where decapitators lie in wait for alleged sexual offenders such as the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) pastor called Biodun Fatoyinbo and others like him even as they wait for their guilt to be proved and established beyond every reasonable doubt? I have seriously digressed, but the digression is pertinent as I insist that Professor Ogunyemi insists that his “guilty” Unilag-based member(s) be heard first in line with the norm of justice before he/they is/are decapitated.

Unilag ASUU and management must be told that this is the right route to follow for it is the route of justice in this wicked world of injustice. They should fall for no megaphones of blackmail no matter from where they arrive. If in the end the members are guilty as they may be charged, then the rest should be left to the decapitators to handle. I leave the rest to ASUU as it rightly pleases – or does ASUU want Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu and Dr. Samuel Oladipo to break away from ASUU now or in the near future? I dey laugh and dey chuckle, I and my bloody laughter and ha! ha! ha!, and ha, ha, ha, ha!!!

Now I wish to talk to ASUU national based on the vile allegations of Dr. Sunmonu evidenced in his diatribe against Professor Ogunyemi and ASUU our ASUU. Is the national president of ASUU cruising all over the place in a ten million naira car owned by him (or owned by the union) as Dr. Sunmonu alleged rightly or wrongly? Is ASUU under Professor Ogunyemi being run like a “business enterprise,” which reminds me of the allegation against a prominent member of FUOYE’s ASUU’s executive “hustling” for contract to feather his own nest? (I am still waiting for the counter of the grand personage to the said allegation that has been appropriately re-designed in a “rebuttal” or so I received since my column that carried the said allegation). Does the national president of ASUU see the “union as a cash cow” as the “National Coordinator” of “CONUA” also alleged? If this particular allegation is true, what it must mean to me is that the national president is a hookworm whose fellow national officers must be hookworms as well who possess hooked mouthparts which they employ in boring through the skins of ASUU members’ welfare and interests. The metaphors implied here are deadly ones, but I refuse to stick to them because sooner or later the President and his executive members will put “CONUA” people where they belong or where they should be. But the real place they must belong to is ASUU which must not split. ASUU must mend fences with all breakaway groups. And all breakaway groups must be reconciled with the great union that is greater than any great union, no matter what. One reason for my position here is seen in the following two pertinent sentences from Dr. Sunmonu’s rebarbative lips: “We also want to restore a stable academic calendar in public universities. A situation where students spend as much (sic) as six years for a four-year programme for no fault of theirs is a mockery of university education.” I DISAGREE big time with Dr. Sunmonu. ASUU has never been the problem.

Our terrible respective federal governments including the current deceitful one have been the causes and reasons for our students prolonged period of graduation. Have our governments sincerely kept their pacts with ASUU? The answer, the correct answer, must blow forth and clearly from and in the breeze between Dr. Sunmonu’s lips. If it does not, I will puke and will direct it to its rightful place not far from Ife which it must head to. But why should I when I wish genuine reconciliation between ASUU and “CONUA” that must not be “CONUA” if I can help it. However, my reconciliation wish does not mean or imply that honest blame must not go to where it must honestly go to. On this note I feel the need to quote Dr. Sunmonu again: “… permit me to look at the general principles on which that other union we used to be part of was originally built on, principles which in the time past made it a force to be reckoned with. These are the principles of justice, fairness, probity, equity, accountability, transparency, the right of members to freely express their views and positions. Also, its leadership was made of men and women of steel, integrity and unimpeachable character, up and until recent years. These sterling qualities of leaders and lofty principles have been jettisoned of late. The current leadership is dictatorial, unfair, unjust, not accountable, and has no respect for constitutional provisions.”

I have quoted Dr. Summonu this long because everything he has said touches and dwells as ASUU’s core values and principles which have sustained the union throughout its dreary period and centuries of steel when ASUU members truly steeled themselves for our respective governments’ blows.

Has ASUU’s success over the years overwhelmed and defeated the members and their leaders to the extent that we now see what we should not see? For now the “rebellious” “CONUA” may be few in number, but who knows what tomorrow may fetch “CONUA” as this terrible central government is waiting to grip it? No past ASUU president was a poon. President Ogunyemi must be wise. If there is any time he needs to be a serpent, a fox, a tortoise, a lion and a dove, all in one, it is now. “CONUA” and ASUU must meet and talk. It is never too late to do so. The accused and the accusers must try to establish a meaningful dialogue. But many of us must be interested in President Ogunyemi’s counter to “Coordinator” Sunmonu’s weighty allegations. Yet it is better to hear sooner than later that all is well that ends well between our disputants. ASUU’s interests must be “CONUA’s” interests and vice versa. Elders are never tired of talking. ASUU must not split. “CONUA” must not break away. Above all, the president of ASUU and his team as well as the chairpersons of ASUU branches and their executive members nation-wide must live above board in the respective ways they manage the affairs of the union nationally and locally. This is not in any way a costly demand. This, I perceive, is “CONUA’s” vitally fundamental and fundamentally vital demand. Maybe, after all said and done, I am wrong and dead wrong. But am I? Time will tell and vindicate the truthful.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059


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