What is with Nigeria's Academic Staff Union of Universities aka ASUU? This whole ASUU strike business would be amusing except that this is serious business. We are talking about the lives of youngsters here, a fact that seems to elude the conscience of the leadership of ASUU. Let's forget the Nigerian government for a second; it is already established that Nigeria has inherited a system of government and a bunch of government-thieves that she cannot sustain. SoÔÇŽ what is ASUU's problem? It is hard to tell, its leaders' eyes are so trained on dollars for lining their pockets they have dispensed with the inconvenience of telling us their story in coherent, easy to explain language. Visit their website and you would think you were reading the overwrought inaugural address of yet another overpaid Nigerian professor. These people just don't get it. Effective communication is clearly not the objective of ASUU.
It is very frustrating. For those of us steeped in less abusive labor management techniques like interest-based bargaining the head reels from the sheer decibel level of ASUU's hectoring and rhetoric. Their pseudo militant methods don't appear to have changed one iota since the heady days of their predecessor organization many decades ago when I was a university student. Anyone who doubts that ASUU is an unserious organization of over-educated hustler-leaders should please erase all doubts by visiting their website at http://www.asuunigeria.org/. It is easily one of the worst sites ever built. Hurriedly put together by individuals used to erecting pretend-processes and 419 structures in order to arrive at a Machiavellian outcome, it is an incoherent jumble of documents and over-blown rhetoric, most of which are outdated. One is not surprised; it is too much to ask that ASUU be a model different from the monster-society that birthed it. No, the mango does not fall far from its tree. ASUU robustly advertises itself as a bad joke, which is a shame, because many of its members are achievers and passionate about academic excellence. They build personal websites, blogs and Facebook accounts that are the envy of the brightest minds in the world. Alas, this individual passion for excellence does not transform itself alas to the collective. As a group, just like the Nigerian state, the worst in us is donated to the common good. We treat Nigeria like a mean temple and tithe ninety percent of our pathologies to her. ASUU should be embarrassed by its website and it should also be embarrassed that it is on strike.
From the little I have been able to read on her website and in the various shouting matches between her leaders and whoever is not listening, the strike is a poorly thought-out effort that is just as incoherent as its website. There is no single cheat sheet anywhere that explains clearly what ASUU wants and what it hopes to achieve. Numbers and statistics are thrown out without attribution to any credible source and we are told that 20 percent of the country's annual budget should be dedicated to education. What does that mean, I wonder? Is that the same country where the Minister for Education Sam Egwu threw himself a birthday party overseas with sums of money that were obviously not pilfered from his personal bank account? And are we now proposing that his share of the loot er the budget should now be increased to 20 percent? Haba, the man has run out of celebrations of personal achievement, he may need to start honoring the achievements of his imaginary dogs.
ASUU is obviously a metaphor for what ails our society. No, ASUU is a metaphor for what ails our intellectual elites. They need to invest more in self-reflection. It is everybody else's fault and their self-righteousness is awe-inspiring. ASUU should be quite frankly ashamed of itself. They produce graduates in English Language who write essays as if they are sending 419 text messages to a mugu abroad, their lawyers cannot write briefs and they produce medical doctors who would not qualify as butchers in Ghana. We all know this is the truth; we have paid school fees for graduates who earned nothing but the piece of paper with their degrees on it. Children of the dispossessed unlucky enough to be trapped in our nation's "universities" have been defiled sexually and materially by rogue lecturers who do nothing but sell copies of ancient lectures to their "students." These lecturers do not allow their own children to take their classes. Their children are spirited abroad to friends and relatives because the lecturers know that their degree programs are quite frankly worthless. Nigeria is saddled with an educational program that is so bad that a university don would not allow his or her children to benefit from it.
What to do? First of all, ASUU has a right to exist and I applaud its goals. I would not advocate disbanding it, even though I am tempted to. I question whether the Federal government should be in the business of running universities. It is a shame that we do not even have a government worth having a decent conversation with. There are so many other models of government involvement in our higher education system that are more efficient than the status quo. That should be the first order of business for ASUU. Well, maybe ASUU should change its name. In the eyes of the children that are being short-changed, the name ASUU is becoming synonymous with that phantom energy supply company the former NEPA, now PHCN (aka Problem Has Changed Name aka Please Hold Candle Now). Why, there is even a Facebook group called F**K ASUU. Its members are all angry youngsters. I don't blame them one bit. If you have any doubts as to the damage ASUU and the Nigerian government have done to the education of generations of Nigerian youth, please read their charge or mission which is pasted here without editing: F**K ASUU is "a group formed against the intellectual gangsterism of the ASUU, who through a lack of direction are attempting to destroy lifes,that is careers of univerity students as aresult of their incessant and mostly meaningless strikes..i say fuuuuk them alll for wasting my time..." Congratulations, you have just read from the future of Nigeria. ASUU must change its reputation as a gangster organization. That would probably not happen unless the government takes structural steps to render them toothless gangsters and force them to be productive. But then, we may be stuck. Because we have a gangster government.