Home OPINION COLUMNISTS Nigerian University Academic Staff, Carrying Anger To The Extreme By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

Nigerian University Academic Staff, Carrying Anger To The Extreme By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

Yusuf Ozi-Usman
Yusuf Ozi-Usman

It appears like the Nigerian federal government, had, by its directive to Vice Chancellors to open the nation’s public universities for academic activities on or before December 4th, had drawn a battle line with the public university lecturers, operating under the canopy of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who have kept the nation’s budding youths at home, via their nation-wide strike since July 1st this year. The build-up to such battle line can be illustrated by a personal experience I had as I was growing up. That was way back in 1983 in Kano.
I was driving a new beetle Volkswagen car which I bought a week earlier at the cost of N1,800, along the ever busy Gwammaja road when a young man, riding on a scooter, slightly brushed my car from behind. It happened when he wanted to meander through traffic hold-up. The dent on my car was not visible, but I was so infuriated that I wasn’t prepared to go easy with the young man.
A number of Hausa people, his own ‘Yanwa’ (people) gathered around us and were genuinely begging me to forgive him, with a few of the elderly ones among them even offering to take me to a good panel beater to spray the part of the car that was dented. But I remained adamant and insisted that the young man should pay for the cost of repairing the car.
All of a sudden, all those who gathered around us and who have been begging me to have mercy on the young man turned jelly: they were now insulting me and asking me to go ahead and do my worse. They even threatened to beat me up if I did not go away from there immediately.
I did not need anybody to tell me that I had allowed my over reaction and anger to turn me from aggrieved person to accused.
I left the scene with my bloated ego deflated and in shame.
Yes, members of ASUU had public sympathy and the sympathy of the students they were teaching when they started this strike in July. Even the government, in a way, believed that they were actually wronged and therefore, deserved to express their anger in the way they chose to.
And, in the last two or three months, the government had engaged them in some form of dialogue at various levels. Among the various layers of the dialogue sessions were the one with the Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam, another one with education minister and yet, another one with Vice President of the country, Mohammed Namadi Sambo while the last one was with the President of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
In all these dialogue sessions, one wants to believe that the central issue that ran through them was the promise by the government to address their grievances in more practical way with appeals that they should return to work.
But, while nearly the whole academic year has been wasted with the students sleeping and doing nothing at home, the lecturers appear to be enjoying their unending holiday, showing signs that they don’t care about the consequences of the seed of educational lethargy they are inadvertently, or even knowingly planting.
Nobody doubts that they have a strong case in their struggle for the establishment and promotion of quality university education, but pursuing such genuine case with stubbornness creates an impression that there is just more to the whole thing than an ordinary eyes can see.
Like the Hausa people in Kano who first started to beg me out of sympathy over the scooter young man that brushed my car and later turned violently against me when I became blindly obstinate and stubborn, the striking lecturers may not have known by now that even their ardent sympathizers when they started this course, are now highly disenchanted with them!
Of course, the government was wrong to have reneged on the 2009 agreement it signed with members of ASUU. And, ASUU too is wrong in remaining obstinate and stubborn in the pursuit of their right, per se, even when the ovation that greeted the commencement of their strike has not only died down in troubled silence, but has turned the students whose course they are fighting into weeping.
There is practically no way two wrongs can make a right!

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