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ThursdayRapAround: ASUU–FG Standoff: Who Blinks First?

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By Michael Ayotunde

Suffix to say that the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has lasted more than seven months, starting from February 14, 2022.

Students from across the university systems have been subjected to untold hardship, as a result of the continued faceoff between the Federal Government and ASUU.

The lecturers, among other things, are demanding for revitalisation of public universities, earned allowance, improved funding of state universities, and payment of promotion arrears.

To this end, there have been several calls from diverse quarters for the union to reconsider their stand and return to the classroom, but all that have fell on deaf ear.

In a bold move however, the National Industrial Court (NIC), sitting in Abuja and acting on the request of the FG, on Wednesday, ordered the ASUU to call off its seven-month-old strike.

But ASUU in a swift reaction said it would appeal the ruling, just as the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, expressed satisfaction with the order of the court, saying students had been at the receiving end of the strike.

In a similar fashion, parents, under the aegis of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), urged the government and the union to obey the ruling of the court, noting that it was high time students are allowed back to schools to halt further descent.

Leadership of the House of Representatives has also waded in, and in the process, vowed to further engage President Buhari for a lasting solution to resolve the lingering crisis in one of the nation’s most critical sectors.
The union, form all indications, appears unbothered.

While all these were going on, Nigeria’s first lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari apparently not feeling the mood of the country, was reported to have posted pictures of her daughter-in-law’s graduation from a UK university.

Aisha Buhari, on her Facebook page, celebrated the feat achieved in a foreign university at a time millions of Nigerian students have been locked out of classroom for more than 7 months, and the government appears unconcerned to find a solution to the issue.

Mrs. Buhari had posted a picture of herself, her son, Yusuf, and his wife, Zahra, with a caption, “Congratulations to Mrs. Zahra B. Buhari on your graduation with First Class Honors in Architectural Science. Wishing you all the best.”

The post, according to reports, was said to have been deleted but that has not made any effect, as same pictures are still trending on several micro-blogging platforms.

This no doubt is the height of insensitivity. It is nothing short of abuse of privileges and needless display of affluence in the face of gross ineptitude and cluelessness.

When those in position of authority rather than look inward and find a way to address the issue, opted to patronize foreign schools for their wards, the onus is for the rest of us to come together and save the nation’s school system from total collapse.

As things stand, it remains to be seen who will help bring an end to the issues at stake – ASUU has remained adamant. In fact, they have gone back to court to appeal NIC order; government too is not prepared to shift ground.

And like the popular saying, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers.
Under this scenario, the grass cannot and should not continue to suffer or made to suffer for a fault that is not theirs. The months, periods already lost can never be regained.

The times, hours, and other vital resources lost due to the strike action can never be quantified; the psychological impact, financial implications are huge and as such, who pays or offers to be responsible for this?
Enough is enough!

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