BY SHEHU BASHIR
I really do not intend to make any long note on this, the obvious is very naked. For some who might need a little explanation, let me emphasize that ASUU has overstretched it’s luck, allowing it’s trampoline to be perforated by ego and poor tactics, opening its windows for the Federal Government to come in and deflate its vulnerable balloon. Things may not be the same again for ASUU again unless?
First, let me say that I am on the side of the Federal Government because ASUU has failed to be tactical in its fight. They know when and how to fight but they don’t know when and how to stop the fight. The adage says “he who fights and runs lives to fight another day”.
ASUU doesn’t even understand the pulse of the nation, let alone applying the brake of caution to its “fight to finish” stand. And sadly, ASUU president worsened the situation and tainted the union “genuine” struggle by playing partisan politics with academic matter, openly campaigning for opposition party against the incumbent government, who does that?
Now, let me be specific, the following are the likely implications on the existence of ASUU:
1) The information flying around is that CONUA was registered alongside another sub-unit NAMDA, for medical doctors. This is to totally tactically decentralize (demystify) academic unions. It is definitely not a good one for ASUU’s needles recalcitrance.
2) Federal Government may encourage more academics to defect from ASUU to CONUA or NAMDA as the case may be, by providing attractive incentives to the members of the two Unions.
3) The Federal Government may immediately stop all check-off dues traditionally deducted from salary source and usually given to ASUU as an association. By implication, ASUU may not be receiving the check-off dues of its members anymore, denying it’s the biggest financial lifeline.
4) All check-off dues will now be paid to CONUA along with other special package remunerations as takeoff dues for CONUA.
5) Whether ASUU will continue to exist side by side with CONUA/NAMDA or not, even if some lecturers indicate their willingness to continue to be members of ASUU, the Vice-Chancellors of Universities may be instructed not to deduct the check-off dues of these lecturers at all, leaving such lecturers to on their own volition pay whatever dues to ASUU directly. I can bet you no lecturer will want to do that upon the receipt of their net.
6) Another immediate implication is that the CONUA will begin aggressive registration of their members and once they achieve significant numbers. They will ask their members to resume work immediately. I can bet you, many lecturers are already tired and waiting to resume work. Once this is done, anyone who refuses to resume work, by way of signing the attendance register will be seen to have committed misdemeanor and will be made to go through disciplinary action. Double wahala.
7) By way of motivating the academic members of CONUA, Federal Government may exercise its legal power to waive the rule in “no work no pay” and may immediately pay the backlog of the salaries of the striking workers who are willing to resume work with the express understanding with these members through CONUA not to embark on any strike in the future without first fulfilling certain legal obligations, like securing the approval of Industrial Court.
8) Another devastating implication for ASUU is that University Councils may be directed by the Federal Government to consider for Vice-Chancellor appointment (during selection process) ONLY the members of CONUA and NAMDA. This may not be expressly stated anywhere, but if anybody is strategically thinking within the government fold, this is what they will do. Once no member of ASUU is considered for VC, DVC, Head of Departments, Dean of Faculty and many others, ASUU will die a natural death.
9) Another possible implication, which I am thinking the Federal Government may want to do is to enter into a fresh agreement with the CONUA, to execute some or all that ASUU was agitating for (but refusing to understand the Federal Government with enforcement time). Federal Government may agree with CONUA to do all these but in phases which I am certain CONUA will agree to and the University management will be directed to implement. By implication, the Federal Government had no business negotiating anything concerning academic staff with ASUU again.
10) Worst still, the Federal Government may direct that only members of CONUA should be given scholarship or grant for study and research. Intervention Agencies like TETFUND, PTDF may be directed to consider only CONUA/NAMDA members for any grant. This will not only be a technical death to ASUU, it will also be actual.
11) If the Federal Government succeeds in all of these, all state governments/governors may follow suit, directing their University management to domesticate CONUA and that will be more woes for ASUU.
I don’t know if this piece of advice is not too late but I wish ASUU had listened and changed tactics. In many of the strikes that I have witnessed, ASUU was always on the defence, but in this, ASUU became the attacking force and everyone was curious just as its leadership, especially the president got lost in his emotional sentiment.
All these notwithstanding, I still hope whatever that is going to happen, moving forward, it will be in the overall interest of all the stakeholders, the academics, the system and especially the students.
Always know and remember that no one is indispensable, not even the boss will remain so forever. Let’s learn to respect the supremacy of the system and not our emotions and let’s do everything we can to help the system grow not destroying it.