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Conversation Miscellaneous

By Hope Eghagha
10 December 2018   |   3:18 am
That’s the point. Government waited till the last minute and pulled the rug off their feet! Now there is no new minimum wage and the strike is in abeyance! The workers are furious. Some workers actually looked forward to staying at home for a few days.

Pender: I wonder what has become of labour these days!
Eskor: What do you mean?
Pender: Why did the NLC call off the planned strike without concrete proof of commitment from government?
Asabe: The word of the government is its bond; a pronouncement from the Secretary to the Federal Government on behalf of government is as good as law!

Eskor: Not in our circumstances, I’m afraid; not in our circumstances! Governments across the capitalist world tell a lot of lies, they deceive the people. So as labour leaders we must be wary about empty promises.
Pender: That’s the point. Government waited till the last minute and pulled the rug off their feet! Now there is no new minimum wage and the strike is in abeyance! The workers are furious. Some workers actually looked forward to staying at home for a few days.

Eskor: The credibility of labour leaders is at stake right now. It will be an uphill task to summon workers again for another strike.
Asabe: I don’t think it will be that difficult. There is too much hardship in the country. The salary is just to fuel the body till the next bus stop. What is one hundred thousand naira worth in contemporary Nigeria?
Pender: A country in which some persons in the public service earn as much as fifteen million naira per month while others take home eighteen thousand naira is a joke.

Eskor: It’s a call to revolution. The objective conditions now exist for a radical change!
Asabe: I haven’t heard ‘objective conditions’ in a while! Reminds me of our university days
Pender: Our best days ever!
Eskor: And what did you do with the university training? Have you tried to change the world?
Pender: We were and are not that ambitious!

Asabe: Femi Osofisan’s The Oriki of a Grasshopper defines us very well.
Eskor: Whatever that means! But I hope you are not appropriating cultural metaphors to denigrate the struggle!
Asabe: Not at all sir. Osofisan himself has used cultural metaphors to subvert the capitalist system. Our problem is that once we got into the world the sweetness of practicality realities of self-survival became overwhelming!
Eskor: Your certificates corrupted you; did not prepare you for the challenges of the world.
Pender: Well, at least we have certificates; yet we are unable to get jobs.
Asabe: The president has found his certificates at least; his school certificate.
Pender: Glory to Jesus!

Asabe: Honour to Mary!
Eskor: You have added clowning to your pastime!
Pender: The situation is so dire that we have to laugh and make others laugh too.
Eskor: It’s not really whether the president has a certificate or not though I recognize the legal or constitutional requirement of a minimum qualifications. Having gone that far in life he ought to have acquired enough experience to make up for lack of the minimal qualification.
Asabe: Those who had certificates, even university certificates have not fared any better. They had certificate, didn’t have shoes and messed up the country!

Pender: Others had certificates and played football with the country’s destiny!
Eskor: The structure of the country will fail any democrat. It is designed to fail.
Pender: This is serious coming from you Sir!
Eskor: The command and control structure of the military is not suitable in a democratic setting where different and sometimes conflicting ideas are canvased and no single idea is foisted on the country.
Pender: This is the problem I have with our educational system- lack of focus and its detachment from the socio-cultural realities of our society.

Asabe: Now ASUU is on strike again!
Pender: ASUU is a basket case!
Eskor: What do you mean? As long as the head has lies the fingers will always be stained with blood.
Pender: Begging your pardon Sir!
Eskor: ASUU is a creation of our society.
Asabe: Is that why academics spend more time on strikes than teaching students? Now most of our graduates can’t compete in the global market.  

Pender: They write Igbo or Yoruba English. How can they understand best practices when their lecturers don’t keep best practices?
Eskor: Calm down! If you want the universities to produce first rate graduates then you must give first rate funding as well. The government claims to run tuition-free universities. Yet they don’t provide the money. Who is fooling who? See how the private universities are funded? The students pay fees and if you can’t meet your financial obligations you stay home!
Asabe; Not many parents can afford to pay tuition fees!         
Pender: Who says everybody must have university education? There are too many students who are in the university system currently that shouldn’t be there. They should be in a skills acquisition centre.
Eskor: That’s bourgeois thinking. We should not use high tuition fees to deny bright minds the benefit of western education.

Asabe: We should also not send young people into university that cannot really benefit from the system!
Pender: In my view the federal government has no business running universities.
Eskor: That’s fundamental. The government should create an atmosphere for education to thrive. Period!
Asabe: Everyday strike! Strike! Strike! They have made nonsense of strikes! Nobody takes ASUU seriously anymore even if their demands are legitimate.

Eskor: That is the problem. The university system needs redemption; but whether the current approach is the correct one is another matter entirely! We really need to address education radically for a change to take place. This one answer-fits-it-all approach is nonsense! The teachers are not well paid; some don’t teach well, and the some students are only interested in the certificate without paying attention to profound knowledge!

Pender: A big scandal, education!
Asabe: Talking about scandals; what is this talk about Oshiomole being picked for questioning by the DSS for corruption?
Pender: That matter is pregnant and is nursing a baby at the same time, as my father would say!
Eskor: Oshiomole has questioned the right of DSS to question him over corruption!
Pender: Jagajaga thing too plenty for our country!
Eskor: What’s the name of that musician who sang everything jagajaga? Eedris?
Asabe: No be today naim king wife be queen!

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