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In 2011, When President Goodluck Jonathan contested the most exalted seat in the country; the bait he was brandishing about was the transformation agenda- a delusional promise to transform all sectors in the country.
It is unfortunate that close to three years after brainwashing Nigerians and his subsequent victory at the polls, Jonathan has not been able to transform Nigeria as it continues to wallow in socio-economic backwardness, with the spate of degeneration in the country reaching an alarming rate.
There are many existing economic policies under the Jonathan administration that make life unbearable for an average Nigerian, while its robotic approach to the security imbroglio in the country challenges the existence of a Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in the country. All these imprecision is making 2015 too long a time to effect the needed change in the leadership of the country.
The latest casualty of Jonathan’s regressive leadership is the close-to-four months strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over unpaid allowances and unfulfilled agreement the federal government reached with it in 2009.
A perusal of the treatment of the strike by the federal government shows that the Jonathan administration has no priority for education. While the President is busy with his personal ambitions and party business, the educational sector is in shambles. He has planned personal meetings with the so-called aggrieved governors but has not deemed it fit to show commitment to the future of the country by having a meeting with ASUU leadership. This underscores the level of recognition accorded education by our President.
Besides, a critical appraisal of ASUU’s demands shows that the union is not being selfish neither is it being political as insinuated by some mischief makers in the presidency. ASUU is campaigning against the high level infrastructural decadence in Nigerian universities. This stance is the reality as most universities in our country are not better than prison yards.
What of the N87 billion unpaid allowances owed ASUU? Is it not a show of inhumanity and irresponsibility for a government to owe its workers such amount of money? It is noteworthy that amidst these and other reasonable demands by ASUU, the Federal Government tends to be unmoved. Rather than displaying maturity which is a requisite virtue of competent leaders, the Presidency adopted childish approach by making outrageous statements. One of such is the ‘unmotherly’ and platitudinous statement credited to the Minister of Finance and the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, where she said federal government cannot meet ASUU’s unpaid allowances demands. It is understood that she may want to please her boss; however, doing that at the detriment of the future of the country is grossly unfortunate.
The latest stoppage of lecturers’ salary attests to the notion that the President has not got it right. That was another demonstration of immaturity in handling avoidable crisis.
It is worthy of note that the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is also currently on strike while the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is ready to join ASUU as a means of solidarity. Yet, the Presidency has not done enough to convince Nigerians of its concern.
A President who is obviously not alarmed at the suspension of academic activities in virtually all tertiary institutions in his country cannot be said to be transformational. I just fear if the articulated but passive transformation agenda is not deformation agenda in disguise. It is quite pathetic that this situation tends to replicate in virtually all sectors- not education only. The status quo in the country is a celebration of beautified deformation with no transformation history to tell.
The government should address ASUU’s demands soonest and wake up from its slumber concerning other sectors. Personal ambitions should be shelved and the future of the country prioritised. A country cannot attain the height of glory in a garment of shame and indirection.
•Simon Godwin wrote in from the University of Lagos, Lagos.