Reverse The Concessions Made To ASUU
The above aptly describes the love affair between Nigeria’s current President, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua and the Nigerian nation. An immensely gifted Nigerian in cerebral and sundry terms, he combines selflessness with humility and a social spirit in proportions that are, in the strictest sense, Mohammedan, even Christ-like. Having served two terms as governor of Katsina, he could have sat back to a life-long cruise in the gravy train.
Through moral probity, by dint of hard work and extreme resourcefulness, and with no recourse whatsoever to the privileges conferred by his background and pedigree, he had amassed a personal fortune in excess of N800m even before ascending the enchanted throne that is Nigeria’s Presidency. This is going by the data contained in the asset declaration which he volunteered to the Code of Conduct Bureau. He could have ensconced himself in the monumental comforts which his huge personal estate could afford…but not our Yar’adua. He surveyed the Nigerian social landscape and found misery, agony and anguish in intensity that riled his noble soul.
This was the backdrop to his formulating, even against the formidable limitation of a failing health, the seven – point agenda, a philosophy of development that is rivalled only by the scriptures in its clear – sighted espousal of the conditions for human happiness and instrumentalities for realszing them. As a model for socio – economic development, the seven – point agenda is clearly unrivalled as the leading body of thought in development studies everywhere, any where in the world and for all time. Assuredly, its philosophical and ontological foundations; the rigour of its scientific methodology and assertions are of eternal validity! Its implementation has been so faithful and flawless that paradisal bliss has dawned on Nigeria!
Consider the wonderful transformations which the seven – point agenda has wrought on the Nigerian socio – economic landscape. Misery has been banished from the streets of Nigeria and from the lexicon of Nigerians. The energy crisis has given way to power and electricity over – abundance. From the gooey intensive and gory shanties of Ajegunle in Lagos to the gilt-edged mansions of Asokoro, electricity has suffused the land and no longer blinks. In relation to power and electricity, the current national challenge is what to do with the excess supply which the seven-point agenda has engendered. Indeed it requires no prophet to foretell that in the near term, the huge revenue which will accrue from export of the present over supply of electricity to even the so-called western nations will elevate Nigeria to the stratospheric height of the country with the world’s highest per capita income. We are poised to supplant Norway in this distinction.
The multiplier aftermath of this power over-abundance is screamingly evident. A season of bullish productivity has happened upon the formal and informal sectors of the economy alike. Industry capacity utilisation is a full hundred percent. Unemployment has become an obsolete register in Nigeria’s socio -economic discourse. The brain drain has reversed to the brain gain. The value added sector is burgeoning as Nigeria, in so short a time, has become a net exporter of every manufactured product of note. In the face of the positive transformations heralded by its implementation, the “seven point agenda” is a piece of poor phraseology is it nomenclature which inadequately captures reality. My humble suggestion is that it be rechristened, the “seven point wonder!”
In the realm of roads, comparable amazing feats have been accomplished by the seven-point agenda. Even the perennially deplorable Benin/Ore road has ceased to be the grave yard in which the dreams and destinies of many a Nigerian wayfarer is interred. It has rather, quite magically, transformed into an architectural wonder; a traveller’s delight with romantic appeal to the psyche of machine and man alike. Indeed the extravagant engineering marvel has been inviting the admiration of civil engineering professionals and road construction experts from around the world who are enamored of the manner in which Nigeria has confounded the mould and are desperate to borrow a leaf.
The seven-point agenda has resolved nay extirpated all contradictions in the Nigerian polity. The Niger Delta has become a haven of peace and concord. Nigeria’s ethnic diversity has transformed into a centripetal phenomenon such that unity and oneness have been enthroned where once there was strife, contention and disputation. By over – populating the commanding heights of his administration with non-Hausas, Yar’adua has rendered the North / South dichotomy an anachronistic obsolescence. Ethnicity, statism, nepotism and such like primordial incubus which hitherto confined Nigeria to a mere “geographical expression” and foreclosed the advent of the soul of Nigerian nationhood have all been assailed by the seven – point agenda.
The Re-brand Nigeria Project, the theoretical and programmatic complement of the seven – point agenda has heightened the reputation and profile of Nigeria in the comity of nations. Long gone are the days of the goggled gargoyle when the country was consigned to the lot of a pariah with its citizens routinely denied entry visas into other lands or subjected to degrading “special searches” at entry ports outside Nigeria. These days foreign embassy staff from G8 and non-G8 countries alike, in pursuit of mandates solemnly given by their home governments, are to be seen combing the streets and wading through the melee of the Lagos market place in search of Nigerians seeking entry visas to travel abroad. Such is the rub-off effect of the transformations wrought by the seven-point agenda that other nations now entertain a craving for contact with Nigeria and Nigerians.
This resurgent Nigeria is threatening world sociology and power configuration. It is promising obsolescence to the global power equation in which the USA is the sole super power. Nigeria, with the bullish surge in all progress and development parameters which the seven point agenda has occasioned, has become a credible claimant to super power status and an authentic rival to America. It is this rivalry, and the discomfort and jealousy which the American establishment feels at the Nigerian triumph, that are the real reasons why Obama chose to visit puny little Ghana in place of Nigeria during his maiden visit to Africa! Such is the magic that the seven point agenda has visited on the Nigerian clime that almighty America quakes in the underpants at the mere contemplation of Nigeria. Who needs America and her Obama when we have the seven point agenda?!
It is this dawn of el dorado, this generalised happiness among Nigerians that ASUU seems intent to scupper with an antithetical four-point agenda which seems to emanate from the very bowels of hell. What are the assertions of this fiendish four-point agenda? The government of the messianic Yar’adua should endorse an agreement entered into by the government directly precedent. Infernal nonsense! Does ASUU not know that transformative government such as we have always had in Nigeria is discontinuous business? Why should this government pay for the sins of the one before it? If the previous government did not quite show discernment by entering into such an agreement, it behoves the incumbent to do a corrective annulment of what was in the first instance an error in the mould of poor sagacity. It is well within the constitutional rights and privileges of the President and Commander – in – Chief to repudiate any agreement(s) with whomsoever at any time. It is all in the national interest and beyond review or query by anyone or authority.
Part of ASUU ‘s charter of agitation is increase in the salary of its members and increased funding for education. Infernal nonsense! Is there further proof that the “ivory tower” has transmuted into the “tower of obsolescence?” In the dispensation of a global economic meltdown; one in which the self-sacrificing Yar’Adua has acceded to significant reductions in his small compensation package such that he now virtually bears the burden of Nigeria without getting paid, some misguided, unpatriotic, insensitive university teachers are asking for a raise. Even the governors and federal level legislators, patriotic self – sacrificing folks who are underpaid and over-worked, have all similarly consented to salary cuts.
The recently announced concession which this messianic government made by increasing the salary of ASUU members by 54% must quickly be reversed. The teachers deserve a decrease not an increase since they are already over-paid and under-worked. Should the increase stand the lecturers will begin to earn about as much as local government councilors…gifted and women who had to enter into heroic blood oaths and encamp in evil forests and graveyards for long nights to ascend their positions. Of course their big brothers and sisters who hold political offices at the state and federal levels had to travel even more arduous fetish routes. Pray how many lecturers can survive a one – hour sojourn in the mildest evil forest, or tarry for half an hour in the cemetery after dark?
Why should the budgetary allocation to education be increased? To what purpose? Is it to further empower the recalcitrant university teachers to intensify their rebellion against the calm and unperturbed Yar’adua who is constantly looking bewildered? Do the lecturers not know that there are far more urgent demands on the national treasury? There is the screaming need to increase funding for the National Integrated Power Projects, (NIPPs) so that power generation can finally plummet to zero since previous funding caused a decline from over 3000 megawatts to 900 lately. Is it not a far more legitimate national priority to keep funding the parliamentary heist in which legislators cart away tens of millions of naira as salaries and allowances on a quarterly basis? Does the lowly even beggarly teaching profession to which the lecturers belong compare to the illustrious work of over – sighting the executive to ensure that the current messianic leadership continues to flourish?
Some of the irreverent lecturers even found the spunk to query the inspired decision to divert some part of the educational budget to funding expansion of the link road between FCT Abuja and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. Infernal balderdash! What fiendish impudence it is to query the supreme whim of him who was anointed nay appointed by Allah and elected by all Nigerians in a very free and fair election to, as the clich? goes, steer the ship of the Nigerian state! Can’t the bovine lecturers see that it is superior national priority to expand that road than fund education? Is that not the road on which the highest number of VIPs travel more than any other road in the country? If the money is spent on education, it may well end up being spent on the universities. Pray, to what purpose? How many VIP convoys course thoroughly dilapidated and decrepit university campuses in even half a decade? How many limousines bearing Honourables, Distinguisheds, Ministers, legislators, Chief Drs, Alhaji Contractors, Excellencies, First Ladies, First Sons, First Children, etc are ever found on university campuses? Why then should any money be spent in the place?
Was it not the Rt. Hon. Distinguished Senator Brigadier General David Mark, President of the Senate, foremost democrat and a standard bearer of this democracy; the one who famously played a prominent role in the annulment of the June 12 elections and intimidation into eternal quietude of Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the conductor of those elections; who correctly remarked that the intellectual credentials of a Nigerian university graduate are comparable to those of a sergeant in the Nigerian army?
This helpful insight offers a key for neutralizing ASUU’s intransigence. Since sergeants are the equivalents of graduates in knowledge and cerebral capacity, then warrant officers (WO2s), those veterans of hard grinding military training and duties, must compare favorably to lecturers and must immediately be drafted to go and teach in the universities. Majors can then be re-designated as vice chancellors while colonels will become Pro-chancellors. This will put paid to the perennial proclivity of ASUU to question the sanctity of the seven point agenda and assail their misguided attempts at overawing Mr. President and his able Minister(s) with intent to hold this great country to ransom through incessant strikes. The universities will stop producing half-baked graduates, align more with the seven-point agenda and embrace patriotic commitment to this great nation.
Unhappily government has seemingly succumbed to the blackmail of the recalcitrant and obdurate lecturers. How can a government of messiahs deign to and be subjected to the indignity of negotiating with mere university teachers?! Is that not de-sacralisation, a profaning of divinity? The charade and absurdity has gone on for long enough. The right measures must now be instituted to remedy the treasonable (mis)conduct of the lecturers.
Adindu is a company executive in Lagos