By Muhammad Sulaiman
The ongoing academic dispute between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members, and the Federal Government of Nigeria, has taken a new dimension in Kaduna State. The governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru El-Rufa’i, has threatened to sack the Union members if they fail to resume their normal academic activities at Kaduna State University. However, the ASUU branch at the Kaduna State University (KASU) responded, saying that they are far above his usual tactics. They added that they would not, in any way, stoop to his intimidation and threats.
Excerpts of the ASUU Zonal press release, signed by its coordinator, Comrade Abdulkadir Muhammad, read:
“The Kano Zone of ASUU comprising Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU), Bayero University Kano (BUK), Federal University, Dutse (FUD), Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil (KUST), Kaduna State University (KASU), Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa (SLU) and Yusuf Mataima Sule University, Kano (YUMSU) met on 7th August 2022 and deliberated on the intimidation meted on the ASUU members at KASU by the Government of Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai due to the ongoing nationwide strike action embarked upon as directed by the ASUU National. The Governor had threatened to sack all academic staff that have been on strike in the branch as he usually does on similar matters. ASUU as a Union had experienced similar threats in the past, and that had never deterred it from the patriotic struggles to salvage our public universities from imminent collapse.
As you are fully aware, our roll-over strike action has now entered its sixth month. The goal of the strike is to get government to timely and substantially address ASUU’s demands, namely: revitalization funds for public universities, Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, Visitation Panels to universities, and stoppage of the proliferation of state universities and governance issues in them, and deployment of UTAS as a payment system in Federal Universities. These demands were agreed upon, with timelines, by the Federal Government in the MoU and MoA it signed willingly with ASUU in February, 2019 and December, 2020 respectively.
The rhetorical question as to why ASUU is always embarking on strike action has been asked time and again by the concerned citizens and stakeholders. The straightforward answer is that ASUU is strongly convinced that if academics fail to fight the cause of university education, the fate that befell public primary and secondary schools would soon become the lot of the public university system in Nigeria. It is also worthy of note that ASUU as a Union does not derive pleasure in the disruption of academic calendar and hindering students from graduating in good time. Strike action always comes as the Union’s last resort after exhausting all other options and consultative avenues.
KASU has benefited immensely from the TETFund interventions, revitalization fund, staff development and provision of research grants, which are dividends of ASUU strikes. In fact, KASU is one of the universities that could rightly be described as “TETFund University” since virtually all buildings in the University were constructed through TETFund interventions. At this juncture, we challenge the Visitor of KASU to show a single structure he constructed on KASU campuses during his two-term tenure as Governor of Kaduna State. It is therefore illogical for the Government of Nasir El-Rufai to bluff that members of ASUU-KASU should either break away from the National strike or be sacked. Since the issuance of this threat, our members have constantly been intimidated and coerced by the University Council and Management through opening of registers, conduct of a comic exercise called examinations, selective stoppage of staff salaries, among others.
These theatrical exercises that the University Management confused and referred to as examinations that are currently going on in KASU are characterized by non-coverage of course outlines, incomplete lecture contact hours, non-participation of lecturers who taught the courses in the setting of the examination questions and supervisions, involvement of students in invigilation and non-moderation of question papers, which are clear violations of the laid down rules and regulations governing the conduct of examinations.
The Union would not fold its arms while the University evaluation system is being bastardized and abused by the Management of KASU. Therefore, ASUU demands that all the so-called examinations so far conducted be discarded in order to maintain and respect the sacred system of evaluation in the university system. The examinations must be re-conducted after following the due process and suspension of the ongoing strike action, otherwise, the Union will be left with no option but to write a petition to the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) against the Management of KASU.
The ASUU-Kano Zone commends the commitment and resilience of ASUU-KASU members for not succumbing to the antics of Kaduna State Government and its agents. The Union calls on its members in KASU to remain resolute and prosecute the strike action to its logical conclusion. Finally, the Union thanks the good people of Kaduna State for their patience, understanding, support and cooperation.”