Federal universities in Nigeria have been shutdown for four months. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has gone on strike in a bid to get the federal government to implement every letter of an agreement they reached in 2009. The agreement draws out a clear road map to renewing Nigeria’s tertiary education system, and everyone is eager to see it done. However, I an surprised via ASUU has decided to sit at home because, as it claims, the Federal Government is defaulting on this land mark agreement.
So, why is ASUU at home and not in court? I very much support what they are fighting for, and it is a noble thing. But they are doing it the wrong way. If there is a paper agreement that has been breached, for God sake, take the paper and the other party to court. You don’t have to disturb other people’s lives with this thing. And this is the part many people are not paying attention to. The reason for your fight may be good but if you use the wrong weapon you’d be just as guilty. ASUU is using the wrong weapon, to advance a good cause.
Every commentator I’ve seen and heard has supported ASUU’s claims but good claims do not validate bad methodology. I also want the Federal Government to follow the 2009 agreement to the last dot and I believe it can be done because it is a legally enforcable document. I also believe that going to the courts should have been ASUU’s wise decision as soon as it suspected the Federal Government of breaching its agreement. But by going on strike, ASUU has forced consequences on people who were not even a party to their agreement. That is wrong, unfair, unjust, and selfish. It is wrong for the FG to break its agreement with ASUU and this incident should have been resolved in a court of law not by public opinion.
Tell me, if you had a business agreement with someone and the person defaults, would you block the person’s entire street, stop flow of traffic, and shut down nearby shops and businesses because your partner has defaulted on an agreement? Is that smart? Is it sensible? Of course everyone would like for you to get what’s your fair deal but should you blackmail the defaulter by inciting others against him through your outrageous decision to close down his street? The best thing to do is go to court. ASUU has closed down the street. And that’s, to put it mildly, using an atomic bomb to kill a fly. You’d die with it.
I want to charge ASUU that it intentionally set itself up for failure by going on strike. A strike action is a subtle indication of a willingness to renegotiate existing terms. If you’re going to renegotiate then you must be ready to accept less or something qualitatively different than what you earlier bargained. But ASUU has also adopted an immovable stance. If it is serious about the implementation of the said agreement without any change to the letter of that agreement, it should have gone to court. It is the right thing, therefore, that ASUU calls off this strike, immediately and apologize to our symbolic ‘street users’.