Look Me,Look Trouble 2

…The Nigerian university lecturers’ union(s) – in splinters,forages for quick suicide…

Introduction

After my first post of same title,recently, I had thought ASUU had gained some wisdom and folded up meekly, to look for new ways to commit suicide. Ah! I was wrong. The Academic Staff Union of Universities ( notoriously aka ASUU) has gone haywire again. This time,on the social media circuit and a few self-styled rightist ( actually, anarchist) print/ electronic media: Pouring out buckets of insults on the President of Nigeria; and any and everyone,who dares call on them to exercise decorum – being “influencers”- albeit, negatively. In Nigeria, there was a time when raw abuses, insults, invectives, including, copiously,not genteel references,to the private parts( what’s so private about these parts,anyway,when some have dropped and accepted pollen from over 50 other private parts!) was the exclusive preserve of one of the Big Three – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.This particular Big one produced a President,who was so comfortable in his upbringing and crudest antecedents, got down, hands on the waist, to exchange insults with a musician,almost 50 years,younger than him. Alas, with the diversity of insults,on the President, from ASUU members, that high position and prime achievement, has been snatched from that tribe(or almost).

So, what again, is sending ASUU, into shooting verbal pyrotechnics? My brother, such a simple matter(apologies to Prof Pita Agbese- I just had to steal that line!): Should ASUU members be part of the newly established Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System ( IPPIS)? So simple,if you rationally look at the mathematics of the issue: An employer informs his staff that as a follow-up to the much villified,but, much effective, TSA( Treasury Single Account), he had decided to have a comprehensive database of his employees. Nobody complained. Like TSA, nobody complained.Until another equally resourceful person, realised that like the TSA, the IPPIS, will finally seal up all loopholes, for money making – untaxed, unexplained and unending moonlighting.Things don’t work that way, for God’s sake! In this case, the employer is the Federal Government of Nigeria.The employees, on the other hand, include ASUU.

In the first Post, aforementioned, I got calls, complaints and comments on my social media platforms, from ASUU members AND from” students, parents and the entirety of Nigerian people”(ASUU assertion).I was scared. So, I quickly scanned the Internet and Nigerian rightist( read, anarchist) media, to present their “rational” side of why ASUU, is so opposed to the inclusion of its members, in IPPIS. I picked two fairly lucid and less vitriolic articles. Prof Jeff Godwin Doki, professor of Comparative Literature, University of Jos,ASUU and IPPIS: The Truth of the Matter(punching.com,Dec,13,2019) and Professor S O Ogundele, professor of Archeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan,IPPIS, ASUU and Strike( punching.com,13/12/19).While,Prof Doki wrote in that lilting, self-assured English, Prof Ogundele,wrote,well, befittingly, of his area of specialization.

ASUU’s Main Stand

According to the two main defenders of the ASUU universe, ASUU’ s main role, is to guard the purity of the university autonomy.These are the 4 Pillars: 1) academic,2) organisational,3) financial,4) staff autonomy. This is ” the global practice associated with universities all over the world.”(Doki) Prof Doki’s dilemma is, not being sure of ASUU’s “fight”. Is it against IPPIS as a scheme or just as it will affect ASUU? ” … the whole idea of IPPIS smacks of ignorance and mischief “,he railed. Yet, one is forced to ask: Why does ASUU see it as a fight between ASUU and the Federal Government? Seems to me that a new variant of Don Quixote has emerged. One-sided and hurtful,in the long run, for ASUU. It beats my imagination that ASUU that styles itself as “proficient in and are actively engaged in the creation, distribution and application of knowledge and culture”( see where the “lilting” came from?), is on most occasions, completely bereft of ideas. One wonders that an Association that is “fighting” for the autonomy of the university system, sees itself, as the One and Only capable General. As Prof Doki, speaking for ASUU, stated,the Federal Government,is putting ASUU in the same category as civil servants and road transport workers. It conveniently forgets that when the non academic staff go on strike, the system will shut down; thus, as can be seen, ASUU does not have the support of the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational Associated Institutions (NASU). Nor can one explain the silence of the Nigerian Labour Congress(NLC) and other Trade Unions. ASUU carries on blindly, in it’s ” historic role as the ” conscience of the university system”. Pompous and nauseating.

ASUU and HIDDEN TREASURE

ASUU has consistently argued that it has nothing to hide. Yet, the Federal Government, as its employer thinks otherwise. The Federal Government argues that ASUU is “jittery” because IPPIS will expose the financial atrocities and irregularities committed by ASUU members, on the payroll. The FG, boldly accused the ASUU of ” open endorsement of corruption”.

ASUU,on the other hand, says the FG designed the IPPIS,so as to suppress “the masses” in the guise of anti corruption.And still sitting on its high horse, ASUU stridently accuses the FG of an inability to capture the ” peculiarities of the Nigerian university system”. Indeed.

Highpoint Of IPPIS

I believe the designers of IPPIS had in mind, a system in which the Federal Government payroll expenditure can be corralled; in which retirements and deaths of it’s employees can be tracked; AND, more importantly, to be able to compute PERSONAL Income Tax. For years, so many people, especially the lecturers have hidden their growing wealth. Since we copy the USA, in everything, we might as well, copy them in taxation. From the look of things, ASUU believes the “smart” thing to do, is to EVADE taxation on their numerous employment,under the guise of “visiting or/ and external examiner” and all sorts of cognomens,intended to fool itself.They should have asked Mr Trump.

The University Council

ASUU’s argument that the introduction of IPPIS is usurping the powers of the Governing Councils of universities – and thus university autonomy is BULLSHIT. In a reasoning far below its supposed IQ level( and giving a lie to the essence and potency of the PhD), the ASUU claims that “in the profoundest sense, university autonomy means that all powers – academic, managerial and financial,are vested in the university council”(Doki); yet, it has never bothered itself with the simplest of questions: who constitutes the university council? Is ASUU not represented in the Governing Councils? Amazing naivety!

On the other hand, ASUU’S continued childishness can only be explained by the psychiatrist’s maxim: the continued association with a mentally challenged person tends to create transference of the trait. Could ASUU’S daily associations with teenagers and young adults have affected it’s reasoning? If not, how can one explain this? The location of IPPIS operations hq in Abuja, makes it” practically impossible for a visiting professor or external examiner, from say, the University of Lagos,to be adequately captured and remunerated by the University of Port Harcourt,..” Haba! Bomboy! Look at yourself, ASUU. Even the market woman, who you look down on, can explain the essence of budgeting. Please.

ASS and the HOLE

It’s amazing that ASUU claims to be the citadel of intelligence. Well, here in Nigeria, that commodity is sadly missing from the university campuses. If not, they should know that a good general does not scatter his army ,by fighting on many fronts: How can you be fighting the Vice Chancellors, the university Councils and the FG,at once. Combined, they will crush you. I wonder why Prof Ogundele would warn thus: Most university academics, especially those occupying leadership positions appear not to know that they live in a house of glass and that throwing stones is an aberration. In sum, he notes that in recent times, the Nigerian academia is riddled with unprecedented levels of financial infractions.,

The first signs are that splinter groups have emerged from ASUU. A new group calling itself Congress of University Academics(CONUA) has emerged.And it is urging it’s members to enrol in IPPIS.

Meanwhile, contrary to ASUU’S insistence that no member chapter has broken ranks, One can safely infer from comments and partial admissions,by various chapters, that members registered in IPPIS.

Otherwise,why would the University of Nigeria (UNN) threaten to publish the names of 153 members,who were ” misinformed”. Laughable. Does ASUU have ameliorating measures, in place, in case of a long drawn out strike? No. All grammar and nothing else. We’ve had ASUU strikes on a yearly basis for over 40 years, yet, it has never put up any measures,to assuage hungry families. Perhaps, this is the time to take the advice of Prof Ogundele: “…we(ASUU) need to start crafting a new architecture…a new politics defined and ruled by high ideals,as opposed to greed and unfettered materialism.”. Gbam!

Conclusion

It will PAIN me deeply if the Federal Government goes back to the negotiating table. It will be a sign of weakness. A sign of irresoluteness. A sign of surrender. How powerful can an employee be to dictate how he should be paid.

The road is open to Canada. But, a note of warning: No serious country will tolerate the LAZINESS and Greed of the Nigerian academia. You must justify your moonlighting with commensurate publications and output. You must engage in sex- 4- marks.

The FG should call the bluff. Publish the names of all lecturers with 3 or more appointments,in several universities. It will be mind boggling. Any wonder so many lecturers fix lectures for 10 pm, in addition to weekend night lectures?

I end this discussion.

I hold firm to the assurance by the Hon Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed that ” irrespective of their opposition, ASUU will be included [in IPPIS]. Good Girl! Go to the Top of the Class!