By Auwal Mustapha Imam, PhD
Nigerian politics should copy ASUU politics. There’s no union, party, association, society or any group in Nigeria that has the structures as firm as that of ASUU. None has united, tolerant and harmonized structures as ASUU. ASUU is mindless of the religion, region, ethnicity or tribe of who becomes its leader, the only thing ASUU members are after is, someone that has the capacity to face and challenge any inappropriation, misconduct, injustice or insincerity from the powers that be.
The leadership has been like that since its inception. No one cares wether or not the leader is a Muslim/Christian or any tribe. If the leader is a Christian from the South, he challenges the powers and addresses the problems of every Muslim lecturer from the North, devoid of consideration of his faith. This goes vice versa.
When my teacher and mentor Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, a Muslim from Bayero University, Kano was the President of ASUU, he faced and challenged the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a Christian from the South. None of either ASUU members or Nigerians complained that he was harsh because the President was a Southern Christian. All they were after was the result and the struggle.
Now that President Buhari, a Muslim from the North is the President, the two consecutive ASUU leaders Professor Biodun Ogunyemi (immediate past) and Professor Emmanuel Osodoke (the present) are fiercely challenging the Buhari’s government for the betterment of education in Nigeria, where both Muslims and Christians from all angles of the country can benefit. None of either ASUU members or Nigerians are complaining that the strike lingers because a Northerner is the President. All we are after is the result and the struggle.
Whereas, in Nigerian politics, one’s religion, region and ethnicity are scrutinized and looked at first before even his intellectual capacity. This has thrown us into a deep mess that led us to underdevelopment and public service abuses. Every organization recruits not based on merit, but connection, relationship and nepotism. This can never allow us to establish a structure that will ensure transparency and good governance.
ASUU’s structure, opinions and decisions are both descending and ascending. All deliberations from the local chapters ascend to the zone, then to the national. Likewise, all communications and decisions descend from the national to the zones and to the local chapters. Every member of ASUU is a stakeholder and all opinions are listened to and respected. This is why it is difficult for government to break the structure and penetrate with any inducement to corner the loyalty of some members to the agreement of government’s policies against ASUU.
ASUU’s structure enables unity and enforces loyalty to decisions. If your voice is heard and respected, you have no reason to go against the decision you took part in. This is why every member is loyal.
My master, Professor Mutari Hajara Ali of Physics Department BUK, once told me how he used his Vespa then for commercial “achaba” to survive the harsh policies of the then government of no-work-no-pay against them. I know many lecturers who are currently into commercial transportation services with their vehicles to survive the policy and endure the strike.
To all ASUU members, struggles and sacrifices are part of the job. Hence, nor starvation can force ASUU to retreat, unless its demands are met. Many of us are into hardships, but to us, the struggle needs to reach a logical conclusion rather than back down because of hunger.