A Season Of Strikes By Ifeoluwa Adedeji

There is no doubt that ASUU is prepared to go to any length to make sure our tertiary educational landscape becomes ‘competitive’. There’s the agitation for conformity with UNESCO’s 26% allocation to education. Nigerian Universities need a step up too. If South Africa does not have as much wealth as Nigeria and yet her schools top the list of best Universities in Africa, then something must be wrong. What’s wrong has to be one of two things; either the wealth is not flowing as it should from Abuja to the University Admin section or the wealth is not diluting as it should from the University Admin section to all corners of the University.

Let’s take a look at the first reason.

ASUU has been ‘striking’ ever since it was birthed. In fact, some claim the union was born to be militant; in that sense, there’s fulfillment of purpose. But we should establish what purpose for a union as crucial as this should be- the improvement of education. So, to improve education, tactics or strategies needed to be adopted. Industrial strike was the lucky strategy. After all, ‘the government of Nigeria embezzled much, and the forceful taketh some from them by force’. Maybe that strategy worked at inception. Maybe ASUU’s been on a straight line for too long it has been left behind.

I want to enthusiastically add that this current strike has been very different from previous ones. We won’t be far from the truth to say that nobody had due notice of any coming strike shut-down except ASUUites themselves. My project supervisor who’s also the sub-dean of my faculty at the University of Ibadan was nothing short of surprise and bewilderment when I (the student) broke the news to him (the senior lecturer) on the very day the break began. Secondly, there’s been a face-off of strikes. Here’s Issa Fagge’s statement in a media report recently “Now, the government has pulled out of the dialogue. We thought we were the ones going on strike, but now government has also gone on strike”. Let’s do this part well by remixing P Square’s ‘Do Me’ hit: ‘Strike me I strike you people no go vex’. I can bet that with this dual striking reality, Tolu Ogunlesi may stop using his 9 months ASUU break in 2001 as a reference point if there’s a 10 or 12 months recent experience. *chuckles* Or like my International Relations lecturer at Ibadan who’s a strong supporter of ASUU told me on phone jokingly, maybe the strike will be called off after ‘Jona’s 2015 elections’. Why is FG not pumping money into education? Errrm, times are hard, innit? Or ASUU’s demands are outrageous?

Let’s move to the second reason.

When students of the University of Ibadan, led by their Students’ Union, took to the streets of Agbowo outside the University, disturbing automobile movement and creating an opera scene featuring products of the first and best clapping hands and clamping feet to games like ‘boju boju’ and ‘tinko tinko’, it was not a protest against the FG. They had no water. They had no power. They were tired of living a kind of life that the VC did not live during his time as a student. It was a protest against the University Admin section. What happened during the period that they were sent home? On returning, there were inverters everywhere and as usual, there were big implementation ‘quotes’. So what happens when milk does not flow as it should from the University Admin section to the rest of the school?

ASUU sent students home so as to discipline FG who cares less to pull out of the negotiation. It seems to me that the students are the ones being disciplined. How do you punish the young for the sins of the old? It’s tantamount to decay. Are we truly poor of ideas and strategies? There are stories within our campuses. Victimization of students by lecturers and all sorts. They’re not of much concern? By the way, what is internally generated revenue used for? ‘From UI Bread to UI water, and to using our Agriculture students to labour-power school and lecturer farms’, they just can’t get enough. Actually, no one gets enough- not even the public officials who are more private than the actual privates. Let’s not forget to ask these questions when ASUU gets their demands and yet go another strike. Or do students go a-striking too?

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