Northern Nigerian Breaking News

ASUU, quackery and the quality to question qualification-Bala Ibrahim

When in my article few days back, I asked whether ASUU is asking for the anger of Allah, I had no premonition about what Professor Victor Emmanuel Osodeke, the present President of the Academic staff union of universities, ASUU, would do, or say, nor the reaction that would follow thereafter.

The article was simply driven by the perceived insensitivity and incessant intransigence of the leadership of the academic union, which has held students and parents hostage for upwards of six months.

The strike action of ASUU started on the 14th of February this year, pursuant to the demand of the lecturers for a number of things, among which are, the deployment of UTAS to replace IPPIS and the implementation of the 2009 renegotiated agreement, which contains it’s members’ conditions of service. The strike has now exceeded six months, during which many deadlocked meetings were held between the government and the union.

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While parents and students are groaning in anger on one side, because of their action, the unity and solidarity of ASUU commenced collapsing, on the other side. A faction of the union, operating under the name, Congress of University Academics, CONUA, began appealing to the government to immediately register it as a trade union just like ASUU, saying such development would break the monopoly currently enjoyed by ASUU.

Similarly, some state universities, amongst which are, Kwara State University, Lagos State University, Osun State University and Kaduna State University, announced their withdrawal from the protracted strike. The management of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti also followed suit, by directing all newly-admitted students for the 2021/2022 academic session, to resume with immediate effect, for screening, registration and orientation programme.

As a union, ASUU has suddenly become a divided house, and as the saying goes, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. But it’s leadership still stand on the belief that it could stand, because it was quick to issue a threat, querying universities that have failed to comply with its decision to remain on strike while negotiations with the federal government continue. Beyond the query, like someone that is cursed, the president of ASUU, Professor Victor Emmanuel Osodeke, went on air, in an interview with Arise TV, to describe state owned universities as quacks.

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Outraged by his comments, some of the affected universities began to respond, in a manner that is suggestive of questioning the quality to question qualification. One of such salvo came from the Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna state university, KASU, Adamu Bargo, thus:

“It is obvious that by such a statement, ASUU, represented by the unguarded vituperations of its chosen President, is not actually struggling for a better educational system in Nigeria but for personal and irresponsible aggrandizement. One may wonder whether the Professor of Soil Science really understands what the word quack represents. Quack means a person who dishonestly claims to have knowledge and skill in some field with little or no foundation, as better exemplified by professionals. For the benefit of hindsight, KASU is a new generation University and the second most-sought State-Owned University as well as the fastest growing in Nigeria, which was established 18 years ago with eminent scholars like Prof. Idris A. Abdulkadir, OFR and Prof. Abubakar A. Rasheed, MFR as the pioneer Council members. These scholars-administrators made sure that the appointments of qualified Lecturers was never compromised. The foundation and ethical determination to sustain same has remained the basic principle of engaging academic & non-academic staff”.

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Bargo did not stop there, he went on to query Emmanuel Osodeke further, whom he tried to belittle, by describing him as a professor of soil science, impliedly, one that is not conveniently conversant with the English language, by saying, “I like to mention here that the highest stage of irresponsibility is insulting fellow colleagues in academia. I thought leadership in academia is about mutual respect and mentoring while also living by good example which the ASUU National finds too tasking. The ASUU President was a bigot for neither mentioning Ambrose Alli University, where he came from which has pulled out from the strike long before KASU management decided to resume academic activities in spite of the strike nor did he refer to his own University as a quack”.

There is a proverb in Hausa that says, “In ka san abinda zaka fad’a, baka san abinda za a fad’a maka ba”. The simple translation of the adage is, if you know what to say, you don’t know what would be said to you. As a soil scientist, Prof. Osodeke uttered the word quack, without reckoning to Newton’s laws of motion, which describe the relationship between the motion of an object or statement, and the forces acting on it or them. One of these laws says, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. i.e. in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting sides. The size of the force on the first side of the interaction, equals the size of the force on the opposite side.

Methinks in this interaction, Bargo had hit Osodeke harder, by questioning his quality to question the qualification of others. But that is what happens, when people go about asking for the anger of Allah.

Ibrahim, a media advisor writes from Abuja.

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