THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) grew out of the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT). The NAUT was formed in 1965, covering academic staff in the University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Ife and University of Lagos. The NAUTs orientation was mainly for improvement in the condition of service, the socio-economic and political well-being of the country. According to Attahiru Jega:
NAUT hardly even took any noteworthy position on national issues. Ideologically, it seemed to be a middle class fraternity with view points not too divergent from those of the post-colonial state. On the few occasions that it issued public statements, they tended to be conservative and sympathetic to the regime (Attahiru Jegga: Nigerian Academic Under Military Rule, p.8).
To understand why NAUT became unsuitable for the development of the university system in Nigeria, it is useful to understand that the development of the university system was a function of the movement of the socio-political and economic direction of the country. Eskor Toyo puts it correctly when he places the root of ASUUs problems and struggles in the character of the society itself and the bad faith of primitive bureaucracy and crude militarismÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬Â¦ (The Roots and Significance of ASUUs Struggles, P.2).
ASUU was formed in 1978, the period of the beginning of the decline in the oil boom, when the country faced the consequences of the failure by its rulers to use the oil wealth to generate production and a social welfare system. Military dictatorship had eroded deeply the basic freedoms in the society. Academic freedom and university autonomy were casualties of military dictatorship. The funding of education, and so of universities, became poorer. The factors required a changed orientation of the union of academics, from 1980.
ASUUs orientation became radical, more concerned with broad national issues, and stood firmly against oppressive, undemocratic policies of the country.
The Early Years of ASUU
Assault on academic freedom was the subject of resistance by ASUU throughout the 1980s. In 1978, the Uthman Mohammed Commission Report had an instrument for the Federal Governments usurpation of the disciplinary functions of Governing Councils. The Federal Government directed some Councils to dismiss certain members of staff from their posts without the right of hearing. This practice carried over into the military regimes through Babangida and Abacha. In 1980, ASUU declared a Trade Dispute and made the issue of autonomy an issue in dispute. In December 1980, President Shehu Shagari directed the Council of the University of Lagos to remove six senior members of the academic staff from their jobs, following Justice Belonwus Visitation Panel Report. ASUU protested and continued to press for their reinstatement. In 1986, the Supreme Courts judgement was given in favour of the UNILAG academics, vindicating ASUUs position.
In 1980-1981, ASUU had a struggle with the Shagari Government. Its concerns were funding, salaries, autonomy and academic freedom, the brain drain, and the survival of the university system. ASUU also worked with separate industrial unions and NLC State Chapters. It took on debates on the direction and context of national economic, educational and other policies.
Throughout the military period, ASUU waged its struggles around:
i. the survival of the university system Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ with three components Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ the conditions of service (salary and non-salary), funding and university autonomy/academic freedom; the defence of the right to education;
ii. broad national issues such as anti-military struggles, the struggles against military rule, the struggle against privatization, against the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and the World Banks attempt to take over the universities, for example, the World Bank 120 million dollars (US) loan under Babangidas military rule and the Nigerian Universities Innovation Project (NUSIP) during Obasanjos regime; the struggle against the re-colonisation of Nigeria and Debt peonage.
ASUU organized the State of the National Conference in 1984 and in 2002. ASUUs struggles during the Buhari-Idiagbon regime were based on the unions principled opposition to military dictatorship and ASUUs position on then unions path of development. In its publication How to Save Nigeria, which emerged out of its conference on the State of the Economy in 1984, ASUU diagnosed the ills of the Nigerian Economy and proffered solutions to them. ASUU saw then that a process had begun in 1984 - the process of disengagement of government from the economy and predicted that this would generate crises in all sectors of national life. The document rejected privatization, and offered solutions on Economic Development and Planning, Industrialization, Agriculture, Debt Servicing, Taxation, Labour etc.
In 1985, the Buhari-Idiagbon regime began a programme of retrenchment of workers and wages freeze. It clamped down on the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) when the doctors went on strike to protest the sharp deteriotation of the health services in Nigeria; ASUU supported the doctors union. The government sacked doctors, arrested and detained NMA and NARD leaders, as well as ASUU leaders.
ASUU was central to the resistance to Buhari-Idiagbon regimes termination of the cafeteria system and the withdrawal of subsidies on accommodation. It also struggled against the regimes authoritarian Decree 16 of 1985 which transferred to the National Universities Commission the power of Senate to determine, regulate and monitor academic programmes. It took accreditation of academic programmes from professionals and transferred it to the NUC. It established uniform standards and called them, minimum standards, etc.
Babangidas regime imposed the Structural Adjustment Programme and the harsh conditionalities of the IMF loan. The result was an introduction of measures which caused crises in the economy, education, health and all aspects of life. ASUUs opposition to SAP made it a target for destruction by the Babangida regime. The Union took a principled position against the regimes economic and socio-political policies. Following the murder of ABU students in 1986 by Mobile Police (Kill and Go), ASUU joined the NLC and NANS in protes. Babangidas regime accused the NLC, NANS and ASUU of attempting to topple the regime.
The Abisoye Panel recommended the flushing out of some lecturers in ABU who were teaching what they were not supposed to teach. The Mustapha Akanbi Panel was set up to, among other things, determine the role of lecturers in promoting the crisis. The Akanbi Panels regime never saw the light of day. The Military Government did not get what it wanted.
In 1988, the Babangida government disaffiliated ASUU from the NLC and to weaken ASUU, made check-off voluntary.
In 1987, the Minister of Education, Prof. Jibril Aminu, dismissed Dr. Festus Iyayi, President of ASUU and Dr. B. Agbonfoh, a branch Executive member, on a charge from which they had been previously absolved. The dismissal was a result of the Branchs opposition to the imposition of Professor Grace Alele Williams on UNIBEN as Vice-Chancellor and a plan to generate a crisis that would rid ASUU of the influences of radical leadership and thereby weaken the unions opposition to the Banbaginda regime.
The 1988 Strike
The effects of SAP conditioned the struggles of ASUU. The academic staff became impoverished. The EUSS (the Elongated University Salary Scale), was not implemented. But even if it were it would not have addressed the problem of brain drain. In 1988, ASUU went on strike on the following set of demands:
i. Implementation of the EUSS
ii. Setting up of a Joint Negotiation Committee between the Federal Government and the University Staff Union; and,
iii. University Autonomy.
The strike led to the proscription of ASUU on August 7, 1988. With Professor Jibril Aminu as Minister of Education, the Federal Government banned ASUU, seized all its properties, made announcements directing all universities to immediately pay the EUSS, backdated to January. ASUU responded by forming a new UNIVERSITY LECTURERS ASSOCIATION (ULA). But the proscription broke the back of the strike. Members returned to work. The President, Dr. Attahiru Jega and the Immediate Past President, Dr. Festus Iyayi, were detained and tortured. Passports of ASUU officials were seized. Dr. F. Dimowo (late) and Mr. F. Amade (Ag. Chairman and Secretary of the University of Benin, respectively) were also detained.
The role of SSAUTURIAIA and NASU during the 1988 strike laid the ground for the disunity that emerged among the university staff unions since the 1990s. NASU had dissociated itself from the strike. And SSAUTURIAIA, which was working in alliance with ASUU on the strike, unilaterally withdrew when the Minister of Education made his announcement proscribing ASUU and threatening to sack all those who had not returned to work by Monday August 11, 1988.
The period following the 1988 proscription was a period of deep demoralization among academic staff. But the leadership continued to organize the ULA on the campuses. In 1990, the ULA organized an anti-World Bank Conference as part of the resistance to Babangidas regime plan to take a $120 million loan from the World Bank. With the participation of Civil Society Organisations such as CDHR, CLO, and NLC, the Conference took place at Obafemi Awolowo University. As the Conference was winding up, on Sunday April 22, the Gideon Orka Coup took place. The Military government arrested Professor Olorode and Dr. Awopetu and failed in its bid to arrest others. They were detained for three months, subjected to trial by a military tribunal but found innocent. After their release, they were retired in public interest by the Federal Government. A Federal High Court later reinstated them.
By 1992, the situation of academic staff on the university campuses had become more intolerable. The drive to leave the universities for foreign countries and the private sector had become, for many, the solution to the decay in the universities and the demoralization of university teachers.
In 1990, ASUU was de-proscribed. In 1991, following the Delegates Conference in Badagry, ASUU asked the Babangida regime for negotiation. There were two rounds of negotiation: The first, under the chairmanship of Mr. Senas Ukpanah, broke down when, following a disagreement on Governments offer on salary, the chairman unilaterally suspended negotiation (May 30, 1991). This was followed by governments announcement of a unilateral package.
The failure by the Federal Government to negotiate seriously on the conditions in the universities led to the 1992 strike declared by NEC on May 14, 1992 and suspended after one week because of an IAP order for immediate suspension of the strike. Although the IAP ordered both sides to the negotiating table, Government did not resume negotiation. ASUU resume its strike immediately on July 20, 1993. ASUU was banned for a second time on August 23, 1992. ASUU had the support of the public, the professional organizations, NANS, etc. When all the tactics to break the strike failed the Government had to devise a way of negotiating with a banned union. This took place between the Federal Governments Team led by Owelle Chikelu, the Minister of Establishment and Management Services, and â€œrepresentatives of ASNU (Academic Staff of Nigerian Universities).
The September 3, 1992 Agreement was a product of these negotiations.
The Agreement was significant for the following reasons:
a. It showed that a determined, principled and organized citizenry can defeat a military dictatorship. ASUUs success showed the civilian resistance organizations that they could defeat the military.
b. The agreement showed that there could be a rational approach to the development of universities. The Agreement, by providing a periodic view of the funding needs of the universities, allowed universities to plan, based on expected funds.
c. The Agreement re-affirmed the right of workers to collective bargaining.
d. The Agreement enabled a more scientific approach to funding.
e. The Agreement kept the democratic aspiration of the people for democratic rights alive.
f. It formed the basis for further struggles by the union for the defence of the university system and for education.
But the 1992 Agreement also led to some problems for the future:
First, the Agreement led to what came to be known as the problem of parity. ASUU had argued for and convinced the Governments Negotiating Team that creating a special salary scale would be necessary for resolving the Brain Drain Problem. After the 1992 Agreement, Government encouraged other unions to return to one single salary structure for the universities. This took its toll on workers unity in the university system. ASUUs position was that each union ought to be able to articulate and defend its demands.
Second, the success of the Agreement in improving the material well-being of academic staff, and the renewed struggles to defend material-economic gains, paved the way for a misconception in some section of ASUU membership about the essence of ASUU as a union.
Third, the doggedness with which the union pursued the defence of the Agreement was to lead a politically unsuspecting public to misunderstand the goals of ASUUs struggles.
Fourth, the parity problem drove a wedge between ASUU and other unions in the university, carrying with it a cost in solidarity among unions and workers.
The period of Abacha dictatorship presented a great challenge to ASUU. In view of the constant assault on our union by Buhari-Idiagbon, and then by Babangida, could the union survive another brutal dictatorship? ASUU chose the path of struggles and principle. ASUU NEC decided to join the democratic, anti-military movement to end military rule, abandoning its struggle for the university system through the defence of the 1992 Agreement. ASUU in fact believed that the struggle for the Agreement was a defence of industrial democracy, for fulfilling the right to education and national development. ASUU knew that if it compromised on its anti-miltiary positions, Abachas regime would grant the union considerable concessions. ASUU demonstrated its unwillingness to trade principle for concessions when it took an open, very strong and unambiguous condemnation of the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa. This was to draw a letter â€œfrom the Minister of Education, Dr. Ibrahim T. Liman, to Dr. H.A. Asobie, then President of ASUU, that ASUU was jeopardizing its relationship with Government.
ASUU did not change its position and instead, began to strengthen its relationship with the civil society organizations. That Dr. Iyorcha Ayu and Dr. T. Liman were former members of ASUU Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ Dr. Ayu, UNIJOS Chairman before he left the university, did not help ASUUs struggles. (It was then Dr. Abraham Imogie who, later, as the Minister of Education in Ernest Shonekans Government, that showed, without apology, understanding of ASUUs positions.)
In 1994, ASUU went on strike demanding from Abachas government (1) re-negotiation of the Agreement (2) the re-instatement of the over eighty lecturers whose appointments were terminated at the University of Abuja by Prof. Isa Mohammed (3) the de-annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections.
The strike did not succeed for three reasons. First, the political demand Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ the first directly political demand in ASUUs struggles, caused a disagreement within ASUU itself. While some saw the June 12 issue as a broad democratic issue, some saw it as broad democratic issues hijacked by ethnic interests. Given these readings, ASUU had to drop the political demand.
The struggle for the reinstatement of the UNIABUJA colleagues and the renegotiation of the Agreement continued throughout Abachas regime.
In 1996, ASUU declared another strike to press its demand for the re-negotiation of the Agreement and the re-instatement of the UNIABUJA colleagues. The struggle, a protracted one that lasted six months, saw the unleashing, by government, of various tactics, including tactics aimed at dividing ASUU on ethno-regional lines, in order to break the strike. Salaries were stopped. Vice-Chancellors were given between 5 and 8 million naira to organize false classes to convince ASUU members and the public that it had broken ASUUs strike. ASUU had to suspend the strike in response to wide appeal from the public and students. Abachas government had, of course begun a negotiation. It set up a Negotiating Team with Professor Umaru Shehu as Chairman. For the first time, the Government Negotiating Team was constituted in accordance with the Cookey Commisisons recommendation.
Second, the government Negotiating Team included both Pro-Chancellors of Federal and State Universities. The negotiation was unilaterally announced by the Federal Ministry of Education a day after ASUU refused to accept the introduction of fees in the universities and to call off its strike. The Government announced the dissolution of ASUU National Executive Committee and left branch unions to operate. ASUU did not accept this, just as it did not accept Babangidas government ban.
The Governing Councils invited ASUU Branch Executives to negotiate for their branch members. ASUU decided these two ways of dealing with the problem: No branches should negotiate separately with their Governing Councils. But if any branch met with its Council, it should present the same Negotiating document that had been adopted by ASUU National and presented to Government. Governments efforts to decentralize negotiations thus collapsed.
In response to ASUUs challenges, the Abacha Government, through the NUC Executive Secretary, wrote Vice Chancellors to remove ASUU leaders from their jobs. At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Assisi Asobie was sacked. The Dr. George-Amadi-led Branch Executive Committee was sacked, adding to the UNIABUJA victims of military regression. At other campuses, ASUU officials were removed from their jobs without trials.
This was the position until General Abdulsalami took over in 1998. The Minister of Education, Chief Ola-Iya Oni, made overtures to ASUU, as part of the efforts to win legitimacy for the new military government. It facilitated the re-instatement of the members of the union sacked by the Abacha regime for their role in ASUUs 1996 strike and those who were dismissed by Decree 17 of 1984. A legal victory (in 1998) for ASUU was the judgement of an Enugu High Court that ASUU was not banned by the 1996 Decree.
Abdulsalamis regime, on May 25, 1999, signed an Agreement with ASUU intended to be an interim palliative measure to enhance the income of academics, without prejudice to a comprehensive negotiation at a future date. It did not cover basic salaries, funding and autonomy, it only adjusted allowances.
When Obasanjos civilian government took over in 1999, its response to the issue of the Agreement was a Committee led by Chief P.C. Asiodu (An Agreement signed between ASUU, represented by Dr. Assisi Asobie, President, ASUU, and the Federal Government, represented by Chief P.C. Asiodu) on October 26, 1999. The Agreement covered academic allowances, car refurbishing and Housing Loans and Rent subsidy. It was agreed that Negotiation on Basic Salaries, University Funding and Autonomy shall begin within four weeks. It was not until July 31, 2000 that the Federal Government agreed to set up its Negotiating Team led by Prof. Ayo Banjo. Negotiations began on August 28, 2000.
The Governments Team included Pro-Chancellors Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ Alhaji Sule Kategun (OFR, CMG), Dr. T.C. Osonakpo (SAN), Prof. Ochapa Onazi, Dr. O.O. Oladebo, Dr. P.N. Atanwo, and Mallam Shetima Liberty. LAUTHECH, LASU, AAU Ekpoma, UNAAB, and DELSU were represented by their Vice Chancellors. Lagos State was represented by the State Commissioner for Establishments, and the Special Adviser on Education. Advisors to the Government included: Prof. M. Jubril (NUC Executive Secretary), Vice-Chancellor, ATBU, the Vice-Chancellor of UNN, UNILORIN; The Federal Ministry of Justice, Labour and Productivity, the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Salaries Commissioners were observers.
The Agreement reached on Funding, Basic Salary, University Autonomy and Academic Freedom was comprehensive, if implemented, it was capable of significantly addressing the Brain Drain. It also included a clause providing for the subversion of state universities by the Federal Government. It created a UASS (Basic Salary), providing specific funds for RECURRENT, CAPITAL EXPENDITURE, RESTORATION FUND, STABILIZATION FUND.
It was agreed that the Federal and State Governments shall allocate to education a minimum of 26% of the annual budgets with effect from the 2001 budget, subject to an upward review from 2003; 50% of the 26% Annual Budget Allocation shall be allocated to the Universities.
It had provision on Education Tax Fund, including an amendment of Decree 7 of 1993; on the composition of Governing Council and Abrogation of Laws that impede University Autonomy and Academic Freedom on the Appointment and Removal of Vice-Chancellors.
It provided for the restructuring of JAMB and additional requirements to be stipulated by the Senate of each university for admission. It also included an agreement on the restructuring of the NUC. It was to be signed on December 2001. But the Federal Government did not sign the Agreement. Dr. Babalola Borishade, who replaced Prof. Tunde Adeniran as Minister of Education, disallowed the FGs Team from signing the Agreement and proceeded with propaganda to destroy it. He set up a Committee on University Autonomy and asked ASUU to discuss implementation of an unsigned Agreement. ASUU refused and in 2001 resumed its suspended strike. This led to resumption of negotiations and the signing of the June 30 2001 Agreement. The 2001 Agreement was weaker in respect of the salaried conditions of service. It offered a 22% increase in basic salary. The provision on Funding and University Autonomy remained.
The Federal Government, however, did not implement the Agreement as required. It breached the provisions on salaries, funding and autonomy. This led to another strike in 2003.
Obasanjos Government had a different plan. It had a plan, with the World Bank, to cancel central bargaining in the universities. The goal was to repudiate the June 30, 2001 Agreement; the cancellation of collective bargaining, the introduction of fees, the $68 million (US) loan, retrenchment, etc were aimed at by the World Bank Project called NUSIP. NUSIP was a re-introduction of the old World Bank $120 million loan. Babangidas government had waged its war against ASUU by terminating the appointment of the President of ASUU, Dr. Festus Iyayi, illegally. Abachas government had sacked Dr. Asobie, President of ASUU and many branch officials (especially at UNN), Obasanjos government and the University of Ilorin Vice Chancellor, Professor Oba Shuaib Abdul-Raheem had, in 2001, sacked all the forty-nine ASUU members who had refused to break ASUUs strike and return to work. 44 of them were sacked for not â€œsigning the appropriate register and returning to work by Tuesday, 22nd May 2001", 5 of them were union officials who led the strike. The FG-ASUU Agreement Implementation Committee (September 6, 2001).
A Reconciliation Committee (December. 2001), the International Labour Organisation Freedom of Association Committee, The Federal Governments Committee on Politically-Motivated Rustication in the Tertiary Institutions Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ all found that the 49 were victimized and recommended their reinstatement.
But President Obasanjo had, at the UNILORIN convocation pronounced that the sacked UNILORIN ASUU members would never be reinstated. On May 1, 2003, at the Workers May Day rally, he told the entire nation that the sacked lecturers disrupted an examination. In fact, however, none of the 44 members sacked were near the examination hall and no examination was disrupted. The University of Ilorin never charged any of the 49 for disruption of examination and never pleaded disruption either in the High Court or before the IAP. The Minister of Education had written to President Obasanjo on September 14, 2001, that the lecturers were sacked because of their role in ASUU strike. The President of Nigeria was told a lie. But he stuck to the lie because he needed it to implement his agenda against ASUU. In August, 2005, the Ilorin High Court ruled in favour of the 49 lecturers and ordered their reinstatement. Rather than encourage compliance, President Obasanjo called the Council to Abuja and sided with those who had already appealed the judgement without Councils approval.
On December 29, 2001, NEC declared the resumption of its strike. The issues were: the chronic under funding of universities, the need to reinstate the unjustly sacked 49 lecturers at the University of Ilorin, the Federal assistance to State Universities and the Implementation of the UASS.
The strike was suspended in June 2003 on the order of IAP. The Minister of Education had referred the case to the IAP in his last days in office in order to avoid a resolution of the issues through the FG-ASUU Dialogue Team and Technical Committee which had resolved most of the issues.
All the issue are still alive. The Agreement has been due for renegotiation since June 2004 but the Federal Government has not invited ASUU for renegotiation. The injustice at the University of Ilorin persists despite the Court judgement reinstating the 49 victims. Universities are still grossly under funded. Following President Obasanjos meeting with Vice Chancellors in December 2003, Universities began charging various fees, but the problem has persisted. President Obasanjo told an ASUU delegation on May 2, 2003 that his solution to the issues on universities is the accreditation of a flux of private universities. That programme is being implemented with religious fervour by the NUC. The Federal Government has left NUC, a corrupt agency which has taken many functions that properly belong to the Senates of Universities, to continue to subvert university autonomy.
The President of Nigeria signed a University Miscellaneous Bill into law in 2003. But Government pretends it does not exist. In all exercises of appointments into the post of Vice-Chancellor, the Federal Government has demanded three names from Council instead of one required by the 2003 Act. The states are not funding the universities. In spite of the income from fees, no state university implements the ASUU-FG Agreement on funding. The Federal Government has left the EFT Board of Trustees to continue to apply the funds in violation of the law.
The Committee of Pro-Chancellors and the CVC in 2003 unconstitutionally awarded Pro-Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors and other Principal Officers of the Universities a remuneration package. A Federal High Court in Yola adjudged the package illegal. But many universities are implementing it. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors still does not pay the desirable role in defending the university system. The various Ministers of Education have paid lip service to resolving the major issues in the universities. Evidence on the ground shows that their appraisal of the problems is different from ASUUs, and even where they would like to solve some important issues, they have to obey Mr. President, whose ultimate ambition is to do the impossible; that is finish ASUU.
The Court of History will judge!
ASUU struggles have lived up to the Unions conventional requirement that the Union should defend the interest of its members, establish and maintain just and proper conditions of service for its members, the protection and advancement of the socio-economic interest of the nation, its special publications on issues that touch on the survival of the country. The Scholar and NEC resolutions have contributed to exposing the re-colonization forces directing our state policies and the decolonization implications of the Government of Nigeria. On the whole, ASUUs only duties are to its members and the interest of the people of Nigeria. It can never be the goal of ASUU to please any government in power. It is important for our meeting the challenges of the 21st century. They are important for our lives in our calling for our meeting the challenges of the 21st Century. They are important for our lives in our calling as academics. Our historical mission (and we do have one) is to â€œplay the role in creating new values, producing knowledge for freeing our people from the systematic domination to where our people have been subjected since slavery through colonization to the present.
In order to enhance ASUUs struggles, our Union needs to overcome several obstacles within. Several problems have to be addressed and overcome. Among them are:
i. The growing â€œeconomism in the understanding of the goals of ASUUs struggles. The tendency to see our struggles merely from the stand point of economic gains is a product both of the struggles for UASS and allowances, and a worsening economic situation. But ASUU cannot win and defend our economic gains unless we struggle for political-economic conditions that will make economic gain possible and worthwhile.
ii. The problems of leadership include â€œtribalism and opportunism. ASUUs long-cherished tradition requiring its members and leaders to think and act in the interest of the people of Nigeria, irrespective of ethnic, religious and regional affiliation is under threat. The use of leadership position to negotiate personal advantage is responsible for many of our problems as the branches.
iii. The decline of discipline is important for understanding a certain degree of deterioration in the over-all level of intensity, determination and credibility to win the times. An opportunistic, undisciplined leadership lacks the credibility to win the support of its members in a struggle in which they are being called upon to make sacrifices.
iv. Lack of education Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ trade union and political. Most of our members do not have knowledge about what being members of a trade union is about. They lack the historical knowledge required. The same is true for most officials of the union at the Branches.
v. ASUUs links with the Civil Society Organisations is still not strong enough. This accounts for why, in times of our struggles for the university system, we tend to be isolated.
vi. ASUUs links with students organization has weakened tremendously. NANS is now run from the Presidency.
vii. Although ASUUs relationship with NLC is good, the link between ASUU and Labour in the states is weak.
viii. Because of the constant renewal of the struggle against external obstacles to the realization of ASUUs goals, the process of self-cleansing within the union has been rather slow. The need to invigorate our inward-looking therapeutic mechanism arises, out of the Unions desire to maintain its principle and intergrity. It is not aimed at improving on any sore image. Our business is to save education and Nigeria Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ not cultivating images. Freeing a people and a country is not a task for image-makers. The need for self-directed cleansing within our ranks is justified simply by the truth we cannot pursue our struggles and win them, if we do not have a self-confident, uncorrupt, disciplined and proud force of soldiers and leaders. That is all. To succumb to the discourse of image-making would make it targets of demobilization in times when we need to sustain our struggles.
ix. The change of psychology of leadership: Some allege with a good deal of truth, that there is emerging in our union a labour aristocracy Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ a set of leaders who see their offices as privileged position from which they enjoy some relative comfort, are not well attuned to the rank and file, stand over as above them, use their leadership to enhance their own social/political positions either in university administration or in government. This needs to be examined.
x. The problem of accountability is real. It needs to be vigorously addressed. Often, addressing the accountability issue requires very hard decisions at very high costs for the highest offices. But the union has no choice on this matter if it is to fulfill its mission.
We can go on and on. ASUUs struggles arise out of the necessity to build a country in which every citizen shall be free, educated, well-fed and healthy. We cannot abandon those struggles and yet be worthy of being called intellectuals. The struggles usually call for sacrifice. We have made them and should be ready to continue to make them. Emigration is not a good alternative given our mission. We should not abandon what has been built with the blood and sweat of our people to agents of domination and oppression of African and other peoples. We must not abandon our people, the oppressed, and the under-privileged. This is where we stand. This is where we ought to stand.
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)
Flat 2, Mellanby Hall,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
P.O. Box 9021, Ibadan.