OPINION: Strike: Get the Correct Information before you Blame ASUU By Abdulhameed Badmas Yusuf
Many people condemn ASUU because they do not have the correct information. I met with my Hausa friend this afternoon at Maraba here in Ilorin where he sells clothing materials. While discussing different national issues, he appealed to me that ASUU should call off the Strike. In my response, I asked him to guess how much a Professor collects as a monthly salary. In just one breath, he said 2 million Naira !!! I told him that is for 4 Professors with some balance. I told him that a Professor receives a sum of 416,00 every month! On hearing this, he and his younger brother were stunned and couldn't believe it. He confessed to me that when he saw my car, he silently expressed his surprise as to why I am still using the same car for several years. But his surprise vanished when he got the correct information about the peanut that University lecturers take home.
Like my friend, many Nigerians assume that University lecturers get millions of Naira as every month. And based on this incorrect information, they tend to accuse ASUU of selfishness any time there is a strike. Lecturers also have children among the students that are rendered idle for about 3 months as a result of the strike. This factor is what the government has been exploiting to appeal to ASUU each time it attempted to go on strike. The govt believes that lecturers would consider their children who are also the students. And so far, this has worked for the govt; it has made ASUU endure the govt non-implementation and non-fulfillment of many agreements made since 2009 which primarily border on the revitalization of the universities and secondarily on the staff welfare. But this time around, ASUU has exhausted her patience and reached the limit of endurance.
So, I want to appeal to the public, parents, and students to get the correct information about the situation of the things. They should not allow themselves to be misled by the government propaganda. They may have heard that the govt has paid minimum wage arrears last week. This is true! But the reality is that the govt is trying to give an impression that it has fulfilled her agreement and thereby blackmailing the ASUU with this development. The payment of minimum wage arrears is not among ASUU requests which include replacement of IPPIS with UTAS, payment of EAA, Salary review, etc. Note that over the years, ASUU had been indifferent to the staff welfare and had instead been prioritizing the revitalization of our universities to be of a higher standard. But now it has reordered her priorities due to the govt deceptive and insensitive attitudes. So, the minimum wage arrears is but a cunning way by the govt of pretending to be doing the needful when the most important things have been left unattended to. It is like an irresponsible man who pays neither the house rent nor the school fees of the children thereby abdicating those responsibilities to his wife. When reported to his family by his wife, he boasted of just paying water and electricity bills in the morning!
Since March, the govt has stopped the salary of ASUU as a way of coercing us into accepting defeat. The realities have made it clear that the trick is ineffective.
Finally, I expect all stakeholders to appeal to the government to fulfill all her agreements with ASUU instead of blaming the strike on the latter. The ongoing strike is all about three groups, namely the govt, the lecturers, and the students. There is no doubt that the first group has been nonchalant and less concerned about the issue. But only the lecturers and the students are at the receiving end.
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