ASUU & Mallam Adamu Adamu: The Issues, the Propaganda and the Truth By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir

Mallam Adamu Adamu, a prolific writer, had always lent his pen to the struggles of ASUU, Academic Staff Union of Universities; and was quite the voice, vociferous against the government of the day. One of such stands, are in a column-piece titled, ‘Why ASUU is always on strike’, published on Friday the 15th of November 2013. He was later on appointed The Minister of Education in 2015, an appointment that may have been drawn from two fundamental reasons – his passion for the resolution of ASUU’s grievances, and 2. being an intellectual and one of the best brains of President Buhari’s innermost team, that came to the APC discussion table (inarguably so).


Appointing him as Education Minister was a no brainer as far as PMB was concerned. Today’s ASUU struggles have now dug up that particular article of Mallam Adamu. It has resurfaced and is being shared and circulated widely, reminding him of the struggle he was part of and the opportunity he has before him; to bury the trouble and cast away the spirit of the demon plaguing tertiary education in Nigeria. However the struggles have brooded on, and the salient question is; what is happening? How has this festered on almost seven and a half years after, when you have a Minister that has always been on the side of the ‘Alutites’?


Before I dwell on the subject matter, it is important that I solemnly pledge to tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing cooked up or distorted. The likes of Sarkin Shanun Katagum, Danmadamin Bauchi, and Durbin Bauchi are all elders and fatherly figures that constantly remind me, that I am under ‘public oath’, to tell the truth. A truth that is composed of facts and figures that will stand the test of time, and fill in prosperity to judge me well. So Mallam Adamu as a very close family friend and a role model whose columns inspired and drew me to the world of writing and commentary on national discourse; will not stand in the way of my piece, that seeks to unravel an unbiased understanding of the matters arising – between The Education Ministry under the leadership of Mallam Adamu, and the Academic Staff Union.


Mallam Adamu’s fault alongside the entire PMB administration, is coming short of rigorously informing the Nigerian populace of their projects, programmes and policies; emphasising their achievements and milestones. There isn’t an effective and vibrant public relations/ media communications system, which keeps the general public abreast of both the ongoing, and completed massive infrastructural developments of the administration as well as the implementation of structural changes, that are changing ways, away from business as usual, entrenching finer accountability and transparency. Reliably, all tertiary education institutions and their personnel have never had it as good as they are now enjoying, since the inception of the PMB admin, under the Mallam Adamu led Education Ministry. They have realised a lot of the previous agreements and understandings they reached with previous administration’s, which were never fulfilled before now. They have received alerts of backlogs of different earned allowances and wages. The most recent is the arrears of the new minimum wage allowances which was previously not implemented.


In terms of infrastructure; Tetfund has done stellar well, especially under the Prof. Suleiman Bogoro leadership. Emphasis was made not only in the development of infrastructure and the equipping of tertiary institutions with modern facilities for learning; knowledge through research activities was emphasised and funded massively. The training of personnel took centre-stage and educational materials and utilisation of learning centres both local and foreign were raised to the most optimum levels. Prof. Elias Suleiman Bogoro believes in the re-birth of our economy through knowledge based developmental drives. Such efforts culminated in the development of a National Research and Development Foundation. Today, an indigenous Covid19 vaccine, developed by Nigerian researchers in our ‘quack’ universities (no apologies to the ASUU Chairman), is undergoing clinical trials.


A summary of commentary on the strike action betrays the efforts made in concealing the hatred and covetousness of those attacking Mallam Adamu over the strike actions. Instead of focusing on the issues at the table, they are copiously lunging at him. ASUU has definitely exhausted its goodwill and the empathy they enjoyed from all of us. Their demands are unrealistic amidst our present conditions and certainly too brutish for a time like this; when global trends are in recession mode and our national revenue drives are dwindling. Agreements or not, the times of 2009 are certainly not the times of Covid, the Ukrainian war, and global inflation. University funding cannot be left alone for government. The ASUU freedom fighters aren’t saints, as contained in there hard stances and negotiating claims. A small audit will quickly reveal the untruths about their claims and the way they also come short in dedication to duty and service, and the manipulation of payment schedules. Not by all, but by quite a number. Reason must give way and one must know when to retract, retrace and rewire – reboot if you may. Gains have been made by ASUU and the more the strike lingers on, the more pyrrhic their victory is bound to be; for the losses incurred already are quite huge and have more than dire consequences.


The Professor of soil sciences should know, that all things being equal, even the soil sometimes refuses to co-operate with the finest efforts and finest weather conditions. Something has got to give. The pay for no work agenda for example is one of those basic fault lines that ASUU is dragging on unnecessarily. Their own payment platforms is another hard nut and I bet no employer in the world would grant such ludicrous conditions. Even a semi-autonomous institution cannot claim to handle its finances, not to talk of a totally public owned ‘enterprise’. Just as their wages are not competitive globally, so are the funding avenues for the institutions and the fees paid by students. So who is to blame and who is to bear the brunt? They may not be willing to confess this but tertiary institutions have never had it so rosy, as per funding and renumeration. Their staff both academic and non academic attest to this when you speak to them on a personal note. When their backlog of minimum wage differential was paid, everyone thought it was victory enough and the strike was going to be called off. To their dismay, it waged on and ASUU was going for more blood. Well, the ‘cow’s blood’ has been emptied and it is left to them to either be content with what they’ve got or they continue to contend with a lifeless cow. Govt purse has shrunk and their is no more blood no matter the shrpness of their scalpels. Wise counsel if I may, is to call it a day and go back to work, and earn what they want to be paid for, along with some increase as relayed. They risk the accusation of pushing political agenda, shrouded in academic endeavor. f they can advise the govt to increase taxes and burden the common man, they too can as well be ready to bear the burdens of being under the pay of government when times are hard. Not everyday is Christmas.


Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

Related posts