The National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) met on Saturday 10th - Sunday 11th, 2009 at the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka. The meeting attended by forty branches, took resolutions on the Universities and issues on the state of the nation.
1.THE RECONSTITUTION OF THE GOVERNING COUNCILS OF FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES
The Federal Government of Nigeria announced the reconstitution of the Governing Councils of Federal Universities on Friday, 9, 2009 (Daily Trust, Friday 9, 2009).
(I)The Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003, Amendment of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree 11, 1993, provides as follows:
(II) (1) There shall be a Council for each of the Universities constituting of:
(a) The Pro-Chancellor
(c) The Deputy Vice-Chancellors
(d)One person from the Federal Ministry responsible for Education.
(e)Four persons representing a variety of interests and broadly representative of the whole Federation to be appointed by the National Council of Ministers.
(f) Four persons appointed by the Senate from among its members
(g) Two persons appointed by the Congregation from among its members; and
(h) One person appointed by Convocation from among its members.
Had the Federal Government obeyed the law, it ought to have appointed six (6) members:Â One representative of the Ministry (e), Four (4) persons representing the whole Federation (e), and the Pro-chancellor (a). But in clear violation of the law, the Federal Government announced ten (10) representatives for each Governing Council.
(III) The same Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ammendment Act, 2003, provides that members of Council shall be persons of proven integrity, knowledgeable and familiar with the affairs and tradition of the University.â‚¬Â
This provision is important in view of the urgent need of the universities for repositioning themselves to enable Nigeria to meet the challenge of competing and surviving in the twenty-first century.
To meet this challenge, University Governing Councils should not be subjected to the interest of any political party. They should not include persons who have little or no knowledge of universities, and by persons whose past records in service (civil or military or elsewhere) fell far short of accountability and have records of subverting democracy.
(IV) Consequently, the announced reconstitution of the Governing Councils toÂ the Federal Universities is unacceptable to ASUU. NEC resolved to challenge the announced reconstitution in Court in order to ensure that the laws governing the Universities are not violated and subverted at will.
(I) NEC observed that the Negotiation between the Government of Nigeria and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has taken over two years to conclude.
(ii) NEC noted that in spite of the conclusion of the Negotiation an Agreement has not been signed.
(iii) NEC noted that the members of ASUU throughout the country are angry and disappointed that an Agreement has not been signed. There is a growing doubt about Government's commitment to repositioning the Nigerian Universities for national development, a goal which was taken serious by both the Government and ASUU's Negotiating teams.
(iv) In view of the importance of the issues negotiated for the education system, NEC resolved to appeal to Nigerians to get to the Government to ensure that the agreement with ASUU (and other unions)Â is signedÂ within a short time. ASUU has exercised self-restraint for two years by virtue of the union's commitment to a steady progress of the university system towards a desired goal.Â The public, parents, civil society groups, and all individuals and groups interested in education should persuade the Government to sign the Agreement with ASUU and other unions without further delay.
3. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN 49
(1) NEC reiterated the commitment of ASUU to the reinstatement of the forty-nine members relieved of their jobs in violation of the non-victimization clause in the FGN/ASUU 2001 Agreement and in violation of fair hearing as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
( 2) ASUU's determination to pursue and obtain justice for the UNILORIN 49 by all legitimate means stands. The position of the National Delegates' Conference (NDC)Â and National Executive Council (NEC) on an out-of-court settlement is not, and should not be construed as expressing lack of confidence in the Supreme Court or in the justness of ASUU's cause on the UNILORIN 49.
(3)Since the Supreme Court will hear the cases, to avoid more prolonged suffering on the part of the UNILORIN 49 after 8 years, it is fairest that the process of doing justice be quick and not frustrated in anyway.
(4)All branches are to continue to enforce the sanctions on the University of Ilorin.
4.RBITRARINESS AND VIOLATION OF LAWS IN STATE UNIVERSITIES
(a) NEC observed and condemned an emerging trend in State Universities, where some governors have arbitrarily appointed/or removed Principal Officers in total disregard for the laws governing their universities and due process. Specifically, (i) NEC condemned disregard by the Visitor of EBONYI STATE UNIVERSITY for the law and due process in the appointment of principal officers. NEC commended the immediate past Vice Chancellor for declining tenure elongation out ofÂ respect for the Universitys law. (ii) NEC also condemned the arbitrary and high-handed action of the Governor of Imo State and Visitor to IMO STATE UNIVERSITY who, in violation of the laws and statutes of the university, sent the Vice Chancellor and the Bursar on compulsory leave. (Iii) NEC also observed that the Visitor to the RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (RSUST) appointed a Vice Chancellor for the University without regard for the existing law of RSUST. NEC demanded
a reversal of this illegality.
(b)The Federal Government recently declared that Vice-Chancellors are political office holders. According to the law - (The Universities (Miscellaneous) Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003, the GOVERNING COUNCIL, not the Government, appoints the Vice Chancellor: The Council shall select and appoint as the Vice Chancellor one candidate from among the three candidates recommended to it under sub section (3) of this section, thereafter inform the Visitorâ‚¬Â. (Section 3 Subsection 4)â‚¬Â. That is, if the law is followed, Vice Chancellors are not Government appointees and therefore not political appointees. Vice Chancellors hold their position by virtue of being employees of universities, as a professor. Government position is not only illegal. It is a recipe for crisis.
5. ON THE STATE OF THE NATION
THE QUESTION OF ASUU AND PROFESSOR MAURICE IWU, CHAIRMAN, INEC
1.There has been constant demand on ASUUÂ to make known our union's position on the performance of Professor Maurice Iwu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the Nation-wide elections in 2007.
Most of these organizations and individuals have made this demand in view of Professor Iwu's frequent reference to his being at some time an official of ASUU.
2. Professor Maurice Iwu was once a Chairman of ASUU, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Vice President to Dr. Attahiru Jega.Â ASUU's position on the 2007 election, which was well publicized, was that what were called electionsâ‚¬Â was a series of brazen fraud.
Professor Maurice Iwu is not a member of ASUU, and owes no allegiance to the Union. ASUU had in fact been at the forefront of condemning and struggling against what ASUU and other organizations had considered a corrupt government which Professor Iwu served, including and especially against the plot to rig the then President into a third term. ASUU should not, for any reason, be associated with Professor Maurice Iwu's conduct as Chairman of INEC. ASUU has principles which all its loyal members must respect. Its members and officials have an obligation to discharge their roles and functions, always, wherever they are,with competence, integrity, and the highest ethical standards. The position of our union is that the 2007 electionsÂ were not conducted with competence, integrity and the highest ethical standard. ASUU should therefore not be held guilty by an expired association with Professor Maurice Iwu.
3. The Nigeria Labour Congress and other organizations that care about Nigeria have called for the removal of Professor Iwu as Chairman of INEC. ASUU's Principles are incompatible with INEC's fraudulent conduct of the 2007 elections and Professor Iwu's subsequent unapologetic defence of the fraud. Removing Professor Iwu from office is oneÂ necessary step, if Government is serious about credible elections andÂ electoral reforms.
THE PRESIDENT'S RECENT CONVOCATION SPEECH AT OAU
1.NEC discussed the speech read by Dr. Goke Adegoroye, on behalf of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Visitor to the ObafemiÂ Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on the occasion of the 36th Convocation Ceremony of that University.
2. The important issue is not who wrote the speech. It does not matter whether it was authored by a Permanent Secretary who had left the University when, at the toughest time, the universities needed to retain the backbone of the educational system, or by the President of Nigeria. The issues need to be addressed in the interest of the people of Nigeria and the need for the public to know where the truth lies on the issues raised.
3. What is surprising and disappointing in the speech read on behalf of the Visitor was its ignorance of the discourse on Education in the last eight years. On ASUU's part the debate about how to reposition education to enable Nigeria meet with the challenges of the twenty-first Century led to the ASUU-CODESRIA Conference on Reforming the Nigeria Higher Education System in 2005, with the participation of the NUC, NBTE, NCCE, ASUU, NASU, ASUP, COEASU and Students' Representatives, and Representatives from Latin America, Kenya, South Africa and Lusophore African countries. In January 2004, ASUU and the National Joint Public Service Negotiating Council organized a workshop on National Education Reform, seeking an alternative to the Reforms Proposed by the Obasanjo Government. Among the major positions proposed by ASUU in all the debates, and presented to the Federal Government of Nigeria were:
1. Education, including higher education, is a process, not only to uplift the social-scientific, technological and cultural development of a nation, but essentially a social process for buildingÂ the all-round personality, democratic culture and for inculcating in citizens those shared values necessary for the common life in a free and just society. ASUU argued that the changes that were needed to achieve the goal of such a humanitarian education could not be achieved by a market-driven reform. In fact, ASUU proposed a restructuring,Â not mere reform.
2.In one of ASUU's main submissions, we claimed:
Given the structural characteristics of our society, we would need to create an educational system which not only has a circular flow of value within it, provides access for all but also meets world quality standardsâ‚¬Â¦.. teaching creativity, innovation, promote competence, building in those undertaking it as well as offer within the system of education a means of self-renewal. The new education must be not only for individual self-fulfillment and self-realisation, but also for the promotion of community and well-being.
3. Based on the Kanban model, ASUU advocated a restructuring in which attention would be paid not only to academic but to formal training in skills, innovation in teaching and learning skills, world-wide quality standards, and relevance to the cultural well-being of Nigerians.
4.ASUU advocated the de-colonization of the Curriculum in all tiers of education.
5. A revolution in the learning and living conditions of students, allowing them free participation in decision-making processes, developing their moral self-confidence, sense of responsibility and free of repression.
6.The establishment of full-time Research Universities or Centers for Advanced Studies to be supervised by the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. These would accelerate the development of industries in various fields.
7. Any reform should include research sabbaticals for lecturers, to promote research for development.
8. Learning and teaching should be reformed to make doing a central part of the teaching and learning structures.
9. The restructuring necessary to turn Nigerian education around will make public education the central plank, and this would make a market model of reform unsuitable.
10. A system of double intake, and progressively quadruple intake to address the problem of access.
11Research will aim at solving the problem of development, but scientific and technological research will not be discouraged on the sole ground that it is not directly relevant to present practices.
ASUU's proposed reforms were thus a rejection of the World Bank-initiated reforms, central to which were:
i.the Universal Basic Education
ii. Vocational and entrepreneurial skills
iii.emphasis on technical schools, and vocational education
iv.the virtual library project, distance learning programme and Nomadic Education Programme.
v.Using a good part of the service year to develop entrepreneurial and basic business skills in the Corp members.
These were the proposals in the World Bank's reforms initiated in 2000. They are implemented by the Government of Nigeria today.
11.The Brain Drain must be reversed.
12.No serious and far-reaching reform would achieve the goals set before the country if its rulers are ridden by kleptomenia and dominated by parochial, undisciplined outlook.
The disagreement over the vision of Nigeria's lecturers and Obasanjo's IMF-World Bank inspired Reforms culminated in the abandonment of the substance of the proposed Education Reform Act (2007). ASUU's complete assessment of the Obasanjo-regime's Education Reform Act is available.
What news, then, is there in the remark presented on behalf of the Visitor in 2009 that what we need are fundamental changes in quality, type, orientation and forces of the education at the disposal of the society to drive national developmentâ‚¬Â, when lecturers and their union had since 2000 been making proposals and answering the crucial questions on how to reconstruct the Nigerian Educational System? None.
TheÂ ASUU-proposed model of reconstruction includes much that is unorthodox. (See for example, ChukukaÂ Okonjo: The Quiet Revolution On Creating an Information Age Education System in Nigeriaâ‚¬Â (2000). Whoever wrote the President's speech at OAU had no excuse for ignorance of this. Or is it irresponsibility? Such ignorance or/or irresponsibility lies behind the assertion that lecturers have ignored the very issues that the ASUU-proposed reform answered.
The multi-disciplinary approach is growing in Nigerian universities. Nowadays in humanities, Education, the Physical and Biological Sciences, teachers and researchers in Nigerian universities seek to answer questions in a special area by researching into other fields.
Biologists do not just teach and research into issues of Biology through Biology alone. They research into Chemistry, Physics and other sciences. Education in most Nigerian universities is multi-disciplinary. No department and no faculty makes its students study only specialized subjects in any university in Nigeria. And new multi-disciplinary courses are on the increase. The speech writer had no reason to be so ignorant.
What percentage does character contribute in the award of certificate?Â The speech writer should help answer to this ridiculous question by supplying some useful formula for sifting the proportion of character from the academic performance of every student. Our students are criminalized. In most universities, they cannot freely air their views; they are starved, humiliated and forced to learnâ‚¬Â in a suffocating environment. Most of them do not have connection with treasury looters.Â They see a country where corrupt rulers in politics, in the educational institutions, the legislature, the Armed Forces, the Presidency itself (where research located over 50% of the corruption in Nigeria in the preceding regime) are unpunished, but were honest citizens get punished. They see their leaders subjected to injustice. They hear about the establishment of panels that investigate corruption against current and past politicians, heads of state andÂ those found
guilty are not punished.
ASUU has always insisted that those who want to change Nigeria must clearly distinguish between programmatic change and ad-hoc measures. The 7-point agenda is a set of ad-hoc programmes, not a vision-based programme ofÂ fundamental direction in the economic, political and social life of Nigeria. We suspect that the lack of a fundamental approach to education is responsible for the disparate pronouncements in the speech presented on behalf of the President.
Thus, for example, the problem of sexual harassment and extortion by a few lecturers is elevated into an overwhelming influence on graduates. ASUU upholds the high standards of morality required of academics. Our branches have the Union's instruction to combat corruption in the system in all forms. The condescending sermon to all lecturers (Section 29), and the description of the observed ills as a plague (17), suggest a covert, politically subtle general attack, in spite of reference to a few individualsâ‚¬Â as culprits.
The issue of closure of universities has been widely discussed. The speech sheds no new light on it. Closures, the speech goes, is a moral and ethical burdenâ‚¬Â for the university community. This position does not reflect neededÂ insight into the problem. For, the speech-writer ought to have probed deeper to ask the causative question:Â is the university community responsible (the cause) for the closures? What factors cause the closure of Universities? Are they internal, external or both? With such an analysis, the speech would have shown serious concern about how to ensure that universities do not often face the disruption of their calendars. Lacking this causal analysis, the apportioning of moral burden isÂ an unwarranted, notÂ thoughtÂ through, conclusion.
The issue of private universities has been addressed in our publications. The idea that Private Universities are meant to be the Government's solution to the problem of university education was revealed to ASUU in 2003 by the then President Obasanjo. It is an extension of the neo-liberal theology in the sphere of economy, which all Nigerians governments since 1986 have endorsed and none has called into question. Private universities, at this stage, draw heavily upon public universities for their lecturers, programmes and leadership. They rely upon public universities to train lecturers. Yet no government in NigeriaÂ Federal or State, funds its university (universities) adequately. The University system, including private universities is not doing well. ASUU has been worrying about how to restructure it.
The practice of Government in education since 1999 has been to turn education into a sphere of social life where the individual enhances his or her chances to get a job or become an entrepreneurâ‚¬Â. The liberating vision of education has been lost, as Nigeria's ruling class is bent on creating a society where education will be for the market and the privileged. ASUU has always rejected this position. What is needed from government is not a rehash of problems but an articulation of and a vision for the development of education, and a programme for realizing this vision. Unfortunately, theÂ speech presented on behalf of the Visitor at OAU did not reach that height. It did not even climb a considerable way to that height. ASUU calls for a National Summit on Education to address the issue of restructuring Nigeria's educational system.
AGAIN ON THE NEED FOR NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION
NEC reiterated its position that
(1)The neo-liberal economic policiesÂ in whatever name theyÂ may come must be replaced by a reconstructed welfare stateÂ economy.
(2)The Nigerian state must return to a welfare state, in reversal of the anti-welfare direction of state policy pursued fanatically since 1999 which has not been repudiated. The organization of the economy for the benefit of the rich and the privileged must be reversed.
(3)The Nigerian economy mustÂ be reconstructed to produce for the satisfaction of needs of citizens, based on equality and justice in a welfare state.
For and on behalf of the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU
UYO NEC COMMUNIQUE
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) met Saturday-Sunday, April 4Â 5, 2009 at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and took the following resolutions:
1.THE FGN/ASUU AGREEMENT
NEC,(i)having taken reports from ASUU Branches which overwhelmingly expressed dissatisfaction that the Agreement had not been signed.
(ii)affirming with confidence that the reconstruction of the education system is the fastest and surest way of building a productive and viable economy.
(Iii)recognizing that the reconstruction of the University System is vital to the process of reconstructing the education system, and,
(iv)affirming that the signing and implementation of the FGN/ASUU Agreement is necessary for the reconstruction of the university system and the education-system as a whole,
(v)believing firmly that the implementation of the Agreement would reposition Nigerian Universities to become internationally competitive and to play a greater role in national development,
(vi)noting that the African countries (Southern African and other countries) that have been attracting Nigerian academics have continued to improve the funding of their universities and education as a whole in spite of the global crisis of capitalism, NEC resolved that the prolonged delay in the signing of the Agreement is no longer acceptable. NEC therefore resolved to refer the matter to the branches for further advice, and will meet soon to evaluate the situation and take appropriate action. In the mean time, NEC appeals to the public, especially parents, to ensure that the present situation does not degenerate into a completely avoidable crisis. After two years of patience in negotiation and over four months of restraint post-negotiation, ASUU should not be blamed if the Union goes as far as is necessary to get the Agreement signed.
2.THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSITIES
(I)NEC noted that the underfunding of Federal and the State Universities is increasingly causing continued deterioration of the living conditions of our students. This issue is addressed in the unsigned ASUU-FGN Agreement.
(II)CONTINUED VIOLATION OF THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSITIES AT RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (RSUST) AND IMO STATE UNIVERSITY (IMSU)
(a)NEC observed that the violation of the University's Law regarding the appointment of a Vice Chancellor for the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt has not been redressed.
(b)NEC also observed that at Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, the violation of the University Statute in issuing a compulsory leave order to the Vice Chancellor has not been addressed.
NEC resolved to take necessary legal action on both cases following due consultation with ASUU's lawyer, and to pursue them to a just conclusion.
(III)Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST)
NEC called upon the Visitor to Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST) to ensure fairness and justice in the appointment of a Vice Chancellor for the University.
(IV)University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN)
NEC reviewed the refusalÂ by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to deduct and remit the check-off dues of ASUU members and resolved to institute a legal action following due consultation with ASUU's lawyer.
(V)The Appointment of Members of Council for Federal Universities: Persisting Violations.
NEC observed that there remain in the Governing Councils of some Federal Universities some individuals, including some Chairmen, who are, by the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Amendment Act (2003), not qualified for membership of a University Governing Council. NEC calls upon the Federal Minister of Education to ensure that these errors are remedied without further delay.
3.Ã‚Â THE NATIONAL SCHOLAR
NEC welcomed the publication of ASUU's organ The National Scholarâ‚¬Â (March, 2009) addressing the topic DEREGULATION AND FUNDING OF UNIVERSITIESâ‚¬Â and commended its reading to both members and the public.
4.Â THE ASUU ANNUAL RESEARCH GRANT AWARD
NEC approved the award of (20) Research Grants to ASUU members for the completion of their Ph.D research work, for the year 2008. NEC encouraged members to apply for the 2009 awards.
5.Â Â Â STATE OF THE NATION: DEEPENING CRISES OF STATE AND SOCIETY THE GENERAL SITUATION IN NIGERIA
As the nation again moves towards another general election in 2011, the political situation in the country is becoming, just like in 2003 and 2007, charged. Members of the ruling class, concerned only with capturing state power and personal aggrandisement, are again realigning and jostling for positions and amassing more wealth, while teachers, demanding legitimate living wages in many parts of the country are condemned by rulers as rebels, and workers demanding a new minimum wage are treated with neglect. Revelations in national dailies over corruption scandals involving the ruling class are now daily occurrences. The poor state of infrastructure has worsened in the past two years, such that in the energy sector daily power outages across the country are normal. The situation in sectors such as education (at all levels), transportation (especially federal roads)Â industry (layoffs and closure of factories, the most recent of which is the threat by PAN
to close down operations) and health, have now assumed crisis proportions. On the whole, a general worsening in the conditions of living of the people is noticeable, clearly marked by deepening poverty, insecurity (political murders, kidnappings and robberies), job losses, various forms of socially destructive activities by youth gangs across the nation, and political crises in some of the states. Underlying all these is a widespread and pervasive feeling of planlessness 7 Point' agendaâ‚¬Â, road mapsâ‚¬Â and rebrandingâ‚¬Â that lack roots and direction), arbitrariness in the exercise of power (the political crisis in certain states, such as Ogun, Ekiti, Plateau, and Bauchi, for example) and a ship, Nigeria, that appears to be drifting.
THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT SITUATION: THE DEEPENING SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISES
ASUU has continued to draw attention to the current crisis of global capitalism, in particular to the expanding gaps between the rich and poor, the collapse of basic infrastructure, especially of the erratic power supply and its impact on industrial production and on the people's daily life. We have explained how the blind pursuit in our country of economic policies that International Financial Institutions themselves have pronounced unworkable are compounding an already bad situation. Although the Human Development Index (HDI) is not a comprehensive measure of human development, it gives a broad indication of the general condition of well-being of a people in each country.
The deepening social and economic crisis in Nigeria is clearly demonstrated by our country's ranking on the Human Development Index which places Nigeria, one of the richest and most resource-endowed countries on earth, 158th out of 177, behind countries such as Senegal and Eritrea, as shown in Table 1 below. Similarly, Table 2 indicates the HPI-1 value for Nigeria which measures extreme deprivation in health by those not expected to survive to 40years of age. Nigeria's HPI-1 value is 37.3, ranking it 80th of 108 developing countriesÂ
The data and tables below were obtained from the 2007/8 Human Development Report, indicating that the situation described applied a year or so before the current ruling regime in Nigeria. But the deepened crisis in all sectors - economy, power, health, education, transport; the extreme poverty, joblessness, the increasingly unproductive economic base, etc, and the virtual stagnation at the center, suggest very strongly that the conditions and indicators of well-being have worsened in our country.
Thus, citizens of Barbados, Rwanda and Malawi have better Human Poverty Indices (HPI)-1 indices; citizens of both Uganda and Cote d'Ivoire have a greater probability of surviving past 40yrs than Nigerians; Mali and Guinea have more population with greater access to improved source of water than Nigeria, and Tanzania and Algeria have a higher adult literacy rate than Nigeria.
These are indicators of more serious, underlying crisis in the national economy, the resolution of which cannot be achieved through deregulation of the petroleum or other sectors of the economy. At a time when the most developed capitalist states are creating barriers to good and services from especially the previously colonised world, when vigorous state intervention is becoming the norm in such economies, it would be suicidal for Nigeria to blindly pursue a policy of rolling back the state from the provision of basic and critical social services. Indeed, there does not appear to be any far-reaching, formal, concrete plan for tackling the economic crisis, for the so-called seven point agenda has been a mere collection of general statements and ad-hoc proposals, with no set targets and no timelines. This is why almost every Ministry has its own plan: for education, it is now a 'road map'; for agriculture, it is expanded rice production scheme'; for
information, it is 'rebranding Nigeria'.
THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SITUATION
The political situation is reflective of the worse economic situation. At the national level and across the states, factional struggles within the ruling class over the sharing of public wealth and state power are raging, just as they are indications of an increasingly violent attempt at repositioning themselves for the 2011 general elections. At the national level, actions of the National Assembly and prominent ruling class members especially in the energy sector, the Ogun and Ekiti State crises, the controversy over the removal of the Chairman of INEC, the Constitution Review Process, the Electoral Reforms somersaults and others, are clear indications of the crisis of the ruling class. In general, these actions have shown that the extremely personal interests are being protected. They are taking place at a time when the levels of poverty, the collapse of social infrastructure and general insecurity across the country have reached frightening
proportions. The increasing frequency of kidnapping, murder, robbery operations, and other forms of general insecurity give the impression that there is 'no state' or that at the very most, that such a state is incapable of addressing the basic constitutional responsibilities.
In general, however, policy is underpinned by the neoliberal assumptions that are consistently intensifying the country's integration into the global capitalist economy in crisis and thus further entrenching poverty. Part of this process is the current attempt to review labour laws. Since the imposition the 2003 anti-labour Act, global capitalist powers and their local collaborators have decided that labour is 'too free' in Nigeria, and that there is a need to regulate it. Thus at present, the National Assembly has already begun debates on new labour laws that will further constrain the trade unions, especially in terms of wages, collective bargaining, right to industrial action, and so on. The labour movement must resist these efforts to put labour in chains in the service of an unproductive ruling class and international capitalist powers.Â NEC unequivocally supports the demand of the workers of Nigeria for a N52,500 minimum wage and the demand of the
teachers for the implementation of the Teachers Salary Scale (TSS).
THE SEVEN-POINT AGENDA
NEC reviewed thoroughly the SEVEN-POINT AGENDAâ‚¬Â and came out with the following positions. While we believe that a wholistic approach to resolving the social and economic problems will require an economic and political overhaul of the country, the following are specific observations on the Agendaâ‚¬Â.
1.Â Â Â GENERAL
The Seven-Point Agendaâ‚¬Â is not anchored in a people-oriented economic philosophy. A continuation the NEEDS/SEEDS philosophy of its predecessor, the Agendaâ‚¬Â is nothing but a superficial tinkering with the same IMF/World Bank Economic philosophy and policies that have been directed at draining our people's resources into the system of global financial capital and stagnating our people'sÂ economic, social, educational and political advancement. Our position is that there is no fruitful way of fine-tuning the programme of enslavement. What is needed is to get out of it and establish a patriotic philosophy and programme of development.
To address power problems of Nigeria, the country needs to focus onÂ fundamental issues of generation, transmission and distribution. They are:
The energy required to move all sectors of the economy towards developing the nation i.e. our energy demand profile, needs to be established.
The different possible sources of energy available in the country and those that can be developed and harnessed e.g. fossil fuels (coal and crude oil derivatives), hydroelectricity, solar, wind, nuclear etc and how much energy can be obtained from each source, must be found.
An energy budget that will form part of the energy policy of the country must be rolled out. The budget will ensure that the remotest areas of the country have power supply projects tailor-maid to suit the sources available in the area.
An effective means of addressing corruption in the energy sector must be put in place.
An efficient means of instituting discipline in the utilization of energy e.g. developing energy-conservation consciousness among consumer must be put in place.
All the gas being flared should be converted to thermal stations where electricity is generated for the country.
The problem of waste through transmission losses and the logistics of scheduling must be addressed.
Instead of addressing these fundamental issues, the 7-point Agendaâ‚¬Â makes a catalogue of and general statements about private investment, 'improving transmission diversification of gas distribution grids etc, no specific programmes and no time targets. As usual since 2000, huge sums will be released in disparate areas to show we are doing somethingâ‚¬Â. As predictable, we will be back where or worse than we started, and a few will become much, much richer.
To address the transportation problem in Nigeria:
(1a) The Federal Government should construct 8 major roads (6-lane at least) linking the extreme ends of the country e.g. two (2) diagonally: Maiduguri-Lagos and Sokoto-Calabar, two (2) across the country: Kano-Port Harcourt and Ilorin-Yola and four (4) spanning the borders of the country: Sokoto-Maiduguri; Sokoto-Lagos; Lagos-Calabar; Calabar-Maiduguri; and also possibly Lagos-Benin-Onitsha-Enugu-Port Harcourt. It is worth-noting that even if one major road is constructed per year, this will be an 8-year project and at the end of it inter-zonal transportation would have been addressed
(B)Â The states can then construct feeder roads to link with the major roads. The 'Seven Point' offers no such concrete programmes.
2.Â Â Â Â RAILWAY
The Federal Government should construct rail lines alongside each of the major roads while states along those in 1(b). The preferable rail transportation should be the electric or magnetic levitation mode. Nigeria should catch up on modern transportation methods. What is needed, again, is a concrete programme with schedules of implementation. But the Seven Point Agendaâ‚¬Â offersnone.
3.Â Â Â Â WATER WAYS
Some areas of the country are better suited to water transportation. The Federal Government should set up a concrete programme to install inter-state coastal transport systems while the states set up intra-state ones. The proposals in the 7-point Agendaâ‚¬Â are unsystematic, and too general, with no specific wide-spread links/plans on which to measure achievement or failure.
5.Â Â Â Â THE NIGER DELTA QUESTION
The formulation and the proposed solution of the Niger Delta Question in the Seven Point Agendaâ‚¬Â areÂ politically unilluminating. The following proposals have been offered in serious political thinking in our country:
(i)Â Â Â Â Restructuring and re-engineering Nigeria: Such a restructuring must remove the minority questionâ‚¬Â from the political life and hence the political vocabulary and existence of Nigeria, addressing the issue of control and fair use of resources.
(ii)Â Â Â An emergency approach: the establishment of a National Emergency Development Plan for the Niger Delta to last a definite span e.g. 10 years at most. This Marshal Planâ‚¬Â will focus on the development of the economy, infrastructure, education, health, jobs, agriculture etc. of the aeras called The Niger Deltaâ‚¬Â.
(iii)Â Â Â Radical Transformation Approach: A radical transformation of Nigeria involving the political and economic re-organization of the country, such that giving every Nigerian would have a decent life, job, health care, education, adequate and affordable transportation, security, self-development, cultural expression, ending ethnic/nationality gender, religious, and all forms of domination.
ASUU does not oppose options (i) andÂ (ii). However, the union believes firmly that the option of radical transformation of the country in (iii) would resolve the problems of restructuring and the emergency development of the Niger Delta. The establishment of a Niger Delta Ministry, bargaining with ruling class representatives, declaring Amnesty etc are too superficial if we are to be serious about resolving the problem of the Niger Delta.
6.HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
The present government fares no better than its predecessors in the funding of education and health. Its pious declaration that the provision of health, education and social protection are core to empowering the population to achieve sustainable national development is not matched by budgetary allocation or fundamental for repositioning education, health care, transportation and social services. For years, ASUU has called for an Education Summit to examine the fundamentals of Nigerias Education System and reconstruct it to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. A â‚¬Ëœroad map approach is not different in essence from the preceding Education Reforms (Obasanjo regime). Professor Olikoye Ransome Kutis radical innovation in the Health Sector is almost dead. The â‚¬ËœAgenda offers no solution.
Instead of wealth creation, the theology of privatization, which is the basis of government's economic policy, is generating massive unemployment. Nigeria's oil wealth continues to be circulated in the hands of a few, while the overwhelming majority, over one hundred and forty million everywhere in Nigeria, and especially in the oil-producing areas, are living in miserable material conditions. The level of production is abysmally too low to generate wealth except for big time buyers and sellers, and members of the owning class created by the military and the civilian regimes. While the ruling classes in Europe and America and in some Asian Countries have been able to create some minimum welfare for their citizens, the grabbing ruling class in Nigeria, without establishing a productive economy, leaves the dispossessed and poor, the majority, to fend for themselves, i.e., to suffer and perish. The public sector is witnessing retrenchment. Wealth is a dream
for the majority who are victims of a corrupt ruling class. And no government, including the present one, has shown the will to generate wealth and use it for the prime benefit of citizens. The only way we can solve the problem of underdevelopment in Nigeria is the popular control of the productive assets in a welfare-state.
8.Â Â Â POLITICAL DISASTER
These observations, placed together with the Government's manipulation of the Uwais Panel's Recommendations on Electoral Reforms, leaving the appointment of the members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to and retaining the State Independent Electoral Commission for those who stand to manipulate them for political advantage (i.e. the President and the Governors), rejection of proportional representation, etc are causes to worry about where our presentÂ rulers are driving us to. Similarly, the comedy going on the National Assembly over Constitutional Review, the spate of inquiries the report of which lend to no action, the near death of the war on corruption.Â the general contempt of rulers over the people, are also dangerous signs of a political disaster to come.
THE NEED FOR A NEW DIRECTION
(1)In view of all these observations on and evaluation of the state of the nation, NEC resolved to, in line with its tradition, initiate a CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION, as soon as possible.
(2)ASUU, however believes that in order that people of Nigeria may enjoy life in their country, the economic and political arrangements based on the worn-out IMF/World Bank philosophy moving Nigeria to the minimal state, should be abandoned. The Nigerian economy should be reconstructed to become a productive economy for social welfare, with a popular democratic government. The present path, which promotes poverty, disease and hopelessness, cannot deliver democracy in any form. What we need is not a Seven-Point Agenda, not NEEDS, not SEEDS, and not any latest version of IMF/WORLD BANK Adjustment programme.. What we need is an Agenda for popular democratic reconstruction, of Nigeria.
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) ASUU
Prof U.A Awuzie,fnia