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ASUU Protracted Protest: Punishing the patient to peeve the provost- Bala Ibrahim

As reactions continue to follow my perceived provocative article on the intransigence of the leadership of ASUU, one thing is clearly manifest-the academia of today, is pregnant with intolerance. Some lecturers, or ASUU apologists, are unwilling to accept views that differ from theirs. That is a characteristic in conflict with the long established scholarly approach to intellectual discourse.

In response to my article of yesterday, Friday, 19th August, 2022, captioned, ASUU stance: same old story same old song, someone responded on the Facebook, thus:

“Balderdash! Why did you leave the teaching profession for more lucrative postures? Why not go back now that you have made it for the heavenly reward? Thought a man of your IQ will be more forthright on the issues that laid to the ASUU strikes! Someone notified of Fantami’s on IPPIS but rather than hit on that positive and commend ASUU for unearthing another potential siphoning conduit, you moved on to your baseless uninformed unintelligent conclusions on ASUU! How despicably complacent can one be!”.

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Certainly the respondent was furious. May Allah soften his anger. The issue is meant to be an exchange of opinions, with the intent of finding a solution to a lingering problem. Not a fight.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother responding, but because this is the second time this particular respondent is replying my articles with extreme malice and bitterness, I responded thus:

“I don’t reply people with insults. I respond with points, but I know, people can’t give what they don’t have. They give only what they have. I find your conclusion conflicting. How can someone have an acknowledged IQ and still be uninformed and unintelligent? The government needs to copy the template of Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, by screening the academic competence of some members of ASUU, who seem more in need of knowledge, than the students in their care. I hail you”.

I don’t know what is happening to academic discourse now. Interactions are increasingly becoming hostile and intellectual discussions are loosing focus and standards. Why?

Time was, when as students in the main campus of ABU Zaria, we used to pay regular visits to the then Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, FASS, not because of the concentration of beautiful girls therein, but to listen to lectures and debates between people like Dr. Bala Usman and Dr. Ibrahim Tahir, all of them late now.

Bala Usman was a socialist, while Ibrahim Tahir was an unapologetic capitalist. Between them, on the principles of political and economic ideologies, they agreed to disagree with each other, at any point in time. Bala Usman was promoting socialism, which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange, should be owned or regulated by the community. On the other hand, Ibrahim Tahir was provokingly promoting capitalism, which is saying that, a country’s trade and industry should be controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state or community.

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Bala was sympathetic to the PRP, where late Abubakar Rimi and late Balarabe Musa were governing old Kano and old Kaduna states respectively, while Tahir was supporting the NPN, which had Shagari as the President of Nigeria.

Almost all the time, the two were disagreeing with one another, because of the ideological differences of their parties, and such disagreements were demonstrated in everything, including the mode of dressing. Bala Usman was modest and simple in dressing, while Ibrahim Tahir was loud and exceptionally exuberant in ostentation. And the reason was simple- to provoke Dr. Bala Usman.

But despite this, their relationship remained cordial and amiable. No one has ever seen them exchanging scornful or discourteous languages against one another.

Such was the quality of intellect in the academia, because it was meant to encourage reasoning and understanding objectively, without recourse to the exchange of insults. And even in those days, Nigeria had ASUU, with Dr. Mahmud Modibbo Tukur, Head of the Department of History and Dean of the same FASS as it’s National President. ASUU then was working with a mission of nationalism. But it looks like the ASUU of today, is working with a reversed ambition. Why, Why, Why?

If the membership of today’s ASUU is loaded with people of such intolerant mind-set, like my hostile attacker, I cannot see how a headway can be made in their meetings with the government.

It would simply be like the case of a contract between an employer and an employee, where the employee is continuously insisting that all has to be on his own terms. And his terms are uncompromisingly hostile. It has never happened any where, and I doubt if it would happen under Buhari.

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No one is against ASUU seeking their legitimate rights, but the approach of constantly going on strike because of such rights, and punishing parents and students in the process is what we oppose. Why not take the government to court, after all, ASUU members are the ones training the lawyers and judges.

The strike of ASUU is injurious to the parents and students only. The ministers of Education, Finance and Labour are enjoying the paraphernalia of their offices uninterrupted. So is the President. It’s a case of punishing the patient to peeve the provost of the medical college. And I can bet my wallet that this Provost can not be peeved, through such a punishment.

With this intransigence, ASUU is not reading the body language of the government well. It would soon go into a blackout. With the announcement by the minister of Education that students should sue ASUU, and the new move by a faction of the same ASUU, operating under the name, Congress of University Academics, CONUA, appealing to the Government to register it urgently, and the existing law that makes membership of any union voluntary, the road to crippling the arrogance of ASUU, is certainly sign posted.

Ibrahim, a media advisor writes from Abuja

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