By Kasim Isa Muhammad
Someone I will not mention by name forwarded memes written in the Hausa language to my WhatsApp number. The content reads: “Tunda naga level coordinator din mu ya sa Shadda a status, na karaya.” This means “I lost hope upon viewing the brocade on the status of our level coordinator.” At first glance, of course, one would laugh it out. But, on second and more critical thought, the memes are a deliberate attempt to ridicule members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), whose salaries have been stopped for the past four months or so by President Buhari-led government.
That is one of the several unhealthy memes spreading on social media about ASUU members and their predicament due to the strike. Unsurprisingly, the person who intentionally shared this meme and his likes are bent on making caricatures of ASUU members. This explains the level of irresponsibility and how mean people can be.
In the first place, a university lecturer that converted their social media page for the sole purpose of business enterprise signifies that the lecturer in question is responsible and utilizing the strike effectively. When did engaging in business become a subject of ridicule? Or a sheer violation of the code of conduct?
Let me educate the public a little. The job description of all Nigerian academics includes teaching, research, home and community service, or any other duty as assigned by the Head of the Department. The work has been made flexible to enable lecturers interested in other genuine businesses to complement the paltry salary they receive each month.
Notably, lecturers in departments that are practice-based, such as law, medicine, mass communication, theatre, fine arts, and engineering, to mention a few, have the upper hand in multiple sources of income. This is because they engage in private practice outside the university job, which serves as’ Plan B’.
Sadly, a portion of the blame goes to the government for reducing the profession to ridicule and making it less attractive because of the absence of a decent salary and deliberate stoppage of salaries whenever members embark on strike. Nothing like this can happen in a saner society.
Kasim Isa Muhammad is a student at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri.