Addressing The Arrogance Of ASUU

By Bala Ibrahim.

As Nigerians adjust to the latest action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which has extended its warning strike for another two months, the issue on the minds of many is how to address the abiding arrogance of the bully, ASUU. Since formation in 1978, ASUU has succeeded in making its name to be seen as synonymous with strike.

According to the records, ASUU had its first strike in 1981, over what it then called, the state of Nigerian universities. From then till now, ASUU had embarked on countless number of strikes, including one that lasted for nine months, in 2020.

The grouse of ASUU then was what they called, poor funding of universities and the functionality of the Integrated Payment Portal System, arguing that the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, negates autonomy for universities.

Like a tyrant, that enjoys exercising power or control in a cruel and unreasonable manner, ASUU has turned strike into the only tool of negotiation.

The frequency of strikes by ASUU is not only making Nigeria a laughing stock in the world, but gradually turning the certificates obtained from Nigerian universities questionable, in terms of quality. Many countries now subject the bearers of such certificates to additional polish before any engagement.

In giving reason for extending the strike, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said: “Having taken reports on the engagements of trustees and principal officers with the government, the union concluded that government had failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the four-week roll-over strike period and resolved that the strike be rolled over for another eight weeks to give government more time to address all the issues in concrete terms so that our students will resume as soon as possible.”

As soon as possible? Kept students out of classes for one month and again extend the torture by another two months, but still want people to buy into your understanding of the phrase, “resume as soon as possible”, which in the dictionary stands for, in the twinkling of an eye? I doubt if the word soon mean anything to ASUU.

As the tool of enlightening, methinks ASUU is not only failing the conscience of the nation, but exaggerating its position and importance in an undue and overbearing manner.

At their last encounter with the Federal Government, where ASUU wanted the FG to replace the IPPIS with the Universities Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS, the Federal Government said it had made some observations and passed them onto them, and is awaiting ASUU to upgrade and return it, so as to correct the areas where the system failed the integrity test.

Going by the submissions of the D.G. National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, ASUU’s UTAS has failed the necessary tests that should qualify it to be used as a payment platform.

“When we received the request to review UTAS, we have to subject it to do best practice tests before approving. Normally, when we are reviewing that kind of system, we perform three tests. Firstly, because when you’re building a system, it’s not just about the technology, you need to consider the people that will use this system and the process. You need to get the business requirement. Then you need to identify the capabilities you need to achieve, that is your business objective. Part of the capability is the technology you need to bring in and the people that will operate the technology before you start thinking of the technology. So, when they came, we said okay, fine, we will do user acceptance test. ASUU you’ve built this system, but you are not the one that will use the system. There are people in Bursary, and all the finance that will use this system. Secondly, we said we’ll do vulnerability test to test the security integrity of the system. Because if there is vulnerability, people can hack it, can change and it involves financial transactions. Adding zero means a lot. And also we need to do stress test. Then also you need to have a data centre where you need to put that system. So, we did all these three tests with them. And the system couldn’t pass. ASUU is yet to inform the federal government where the data centre of the system will be installed.- Kashifu Inuwa.

Rather than addressing the issues put forward by NITDA, ASUU is trivializing the N20 billion revitalization fund paid as paltry. And doing so with the arrogance of inflicting pain on poor parents, instead of directing its anger on government officials, who have enough money to move their children abroad.

I know a lot of ASUU members are parents, but I don’t know what percentage of them is made up of responsible parents. But the challenge is for the country to embark on a census to calculate that, with a view to knowing who amongst them is qualified to teach our children the meaning of righteousness.