Lingering universities’ shutdown is simply irresponsible
The lingering public universities’ shutdown in Nigeria should be called out for what it is: it is simply irresponsible. And the Federal Government of Nigeria should take absolute responsibility for the situation.
As core owners, principal financiers and prime driver of both the institutional and labour mechanisms that are at the heart of the crisis, the Federal Government is expected to take more than ample initiative in ensuring that such a fiasco should not even have broken out in the first place, and when it did, that it should be expeditiously managed until a resolution is arrived at.
However, the impression we get is that government may have simply elected on ‘wearing out’ the dons and expecting that they will under such pressure now back down and accept whatever they are given. We find such attitude, if confirmed, to be wicked and insensitive, and call for its immediate revocation. It is simply and plainly no way to build a democratic, egalitarian and prosperous nation.
At its base, several issues have been put on the table in respect of the ongoing strike. The first is that it is a continuation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities push to enforce collective bargaining agreements that have been in place since the Obasanjo years. Second is that it is a move to ensure that the entire university system gets greater value and does not crash. We do not find any of these objectionable and urge that government sticks with them and proceeds on to realistically addressing them.
Again, while the point has been made that the academics may have been hardline in terms of their insistence on areas of concern such as not being enlisted in the controversial IPPIS platform, we actually think that the real question to ask is what would government lose if ASUU is not compelled to sign on to that payment portal in the remaining weeks before a final determination is made on the viability and adequacy of the alternative payment portal that has been designed by the dons? And does government not see the broader significance of using this opportunity to develop a home-grown financial and technological system that even the rest of the world can thereafter come to subscribe unto and pay for? Is it only in areas of agricultural production that we should be striving for internal sufficiency?
The final point that has been severally made has to do with the students. In a country that needs to make more and more investments in upscaling its labour force, on what grounds does government expect us to accept a most incongruous situation of university students being compelled to lose one academic year and counting? What indeed is the point being made? There really has to be an end to not taking responsibility. The costs are too high.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo