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Opinion

Who Will Listen to ASUU?

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Mahmoud Zukogi

 

By

Maikudi Abubakar Zukogi

mandzukogisawaba@yahoo.com

If this is a question needing answer, I will venture to say nobody, at least from amongst the critical stakeholders of university education in Nigeria will. And if I can go further, I will say that if there is anybody among these stakeholders who will want the universities, and I mean public universities to be killed and buried for good, that body is the government, our own very government which promises to breathe fresh air into our distraught lives. It will be difficult to support this position especially because this government recently established nine brand new universities across the country with a blank cheque to take off immediately without delay as if building a university is like incubating an egg. And between the other two- parents and students- there seemed to be a conspiracy of silence; they only make some faint involuntary comments when ASUU rings the bell of strike, which is the only bell loud enough to penetrate our government’s steel ears. The more surprising of the two are the parents who are still to appreciate the direction of government’s policy towards university education but who will bear the brunt of coughing out new regime of fees to educate their wards. If the government succeeds in deregulating university education as it is bent on doing, only few parents will be able to afford to pay and will prefer instead to send their lucky wards to private universities who allegedly have ‘‘stable and uninterrupted sessions’’, ‘‘qualified teachers’’ and ‘‘standard facilities.’’ The students, on the other hand, are faced with double jeopardy. Because they are victims of government’s serial starving and relegation of education, they passed through systems where only negligible few appreciates their condition and are able to voice it out. Consequent upon this, it becomes extremely difficult for them to organize themselves and speak with one voice on issues affecting them and sundry other issues of national importance as were the case some two to three decades ago when Labaran Maku, now Minster of Information and Chief Marketer of Petroleum subsidy removal, was a frontline student union leader who fought draconian policies of government, including petroleum subsidy removal and thought it as the worst evil that could be visited on a people already at the bar of poverty.

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The subject of this discourse is a very familiar one. It is about the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It is about one union that people have grown accustomed to and become weary of. It is about a union that has refused to throw in the towel when others have done so a long time ago; it is about a union that has refused to lose its head when others have had their heads cracked in the course of trying to come to terms with our government’s incredible capacity to eat its word and have it at the same time. Majority of Nigerians- parents, students and concerned citizens- have become tired of ASUU’s litany of demands, genuine and germane as they were, and are asking it to let the sleeping dog lie and join the bandwagon to national self damnation. The government is a giant mountain and nobody scratched the mountain with his fingers without getting scalded. As it is with all aspects of our national life, either you accept what policy government churns out or you go to jump into the lagoon. And if you think this is a usual cynical jibe, you will be shocked to find out that the fate of removing fuel subsidy was sealed a long time ago, long before the Chief Servant graciously provided the supposedly privileged information on the decision of government at the recent Faculty Board of Initiatives lecture. Therefore, this culture of submission, of not asking questions and standing up to what you think is right and appropriate, is what Nigerians, and surprisingly a segment of the media, think ASUU should embrace. Otherwise, why is particularly the media always silent during the periods of interregnum when ASUU is asked to sheath its sword and go back to the classes? The media does not follow up to know what government is doing or not doing as far as its promises are concerned. The thinking within the Nigerian public circle is that ASUU is almost, like most unions and organizations, at the end of its tether, and should quietly take a retreat; join the band wagon and accepts what crumbs is thrown at it. After all, it’s only weapon- strike- has become music to government’s ears. Unfortunately, ASUU represents an industry that is driven not by emotions and sentiments of any kind but by ideas and empirical information. If ASUU represents the knowledge industry, it will be a great tragedy for the nation if it accepts to succumb to forces that are anti-development and growth. More than mere machines and tools, the most inescapable force that drives the economy is knowledge. Knowledge precedes machines and tools; to reverse this natural order is to accept to remain perpetual slave to foreign consumption and underdevelopment. ASUU is therefore fighting forces that are greater than the Federal government, and these forces are none other than the World Bank, IMF and a host of their allied institutions. It is perfectly in order for these institutions if government continues to put the cart before the horse. Their sing song to the government always is that you can never get it right, so don’t even try. This concept is what has retarded our progress. How else can you describe the Ajaokuta Steel today except to say that it is Nigeria’s giant house of mass unrelated steel as were our unrelated and ill-defined policies and slimy, seething corruption? Today, in the name of raising megawatts and providing power, we see trillions of naira hurriedly expended into erecting sub stations made up of giant concatenations of steel, as if the sheer size is meant to justify the amounts expended on them. Unfortunately and tragically, some of those constructions belong to the generation of fast receding technology as far as power generation and transmission are concerned. Dependency remains at the heart of any relationship with the West and its slavish institutions.

ASUU can never get tired of employing its time tested tactics of strike, even if the people, on whose behalf it is fighting, are. It is well over two months since it suspended its warning strike and harkens to government’s plea of two months within which to respond to the outstanding issues in the 2009 agreement. As was to be expected- ASUU has for long become familiar with government’s chess games- government frittered the whole two months without as much thinking of anything other than to continue in the all too familiar culture of business as usual. Our government has long become a trial and error one. At the start of each day, the man at the helms kick start the Nigerian engine and heaves a graceful sigh of relief as soon as it comes to life. Therefore, for the Nigerian leader, the point of worry is always at the start of each day. Surprisingly and incredibly, the Nigerian engine failed our leaders’ only once- during the Civil war. That’s why it is easier for anyone to get behind its saddle and race it to exhaustion.

The arguments of ASUU are still as germane today as they were some thirty years ago. The 2009 agreement provides for funding requirements to revitalize the Nigerian universities; progressive increase in the budgetary allocation to education; payment of earned allowances and amendment of pension and retirement age for professors. Thus far, only the salary aspect and the passage of ETF (now TEFT) Act have been implemented. The 2009 agreement is due for renegotiation in 2012 but its implementation is largely in the breach. The only way out is for the government to honour its words and demonstrate willingness to see through the issues with a view to addressing them as urgently as possible. Does it make sense for government to dismiss people who have repeatedly demonstrated commitment to the growth and development of this nation but whose only means of doing so is peace and dialogue? If only government will listen, and if only those who have a stake in the system will listen, the nation will be better for it. And the media must truly live up to its responsibility of keeping everybody on its toes, including especially the government which has the constitutional responsibility to listen and not close its ears to the people.

Opinion

Nigeria Independence And The Boldness Of Buhari To Blow The Trumpet

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President Muhammad Buhari

 

By Bala Ibrahim.

It was late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sakkwato, the former Premier of northern Nigeria, and the supreme political leader of the region that said, “You should blow your trumpet, because if you don’t, no one is going to blow it for you, as everyone is busy blowing his own”. Undoubtedly, the ambition of the Sardauna statement is to encourage people to tell their own success stories, particularly people that are vested with responsibilities. But for some people, perhaps because of modesty, or that behaviour of being relatively moderate, they don’t subscribe to the idea of blowing their trumpet. To do that they argue, is like being boastful about one’s achievements. Until recently, one of the people with such belief is Gen.Muhammadu Buhari rtd, and now President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB.

In the days when I was a reporter with the BBC, and prior to his transformation from a soldier to a politician, I was a regular visitor to him in Kaduna. Time without number, we had discussions on the sacrifices he made as a soldier, and the successes he recorded as a Governor, Minister and Head of state. Every time he mentions them, my instinct as a journalist, was to spur him to talk on the radio. I would say sir, why don’t you narrate these to me on the microphone. And his response was always NO. He would blushingly decline to speak by way of a formal interview, because according to him, some may think you are exaggerating your sense of importance, or your abilities for accomplishment.

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After countless abortive attempts, in one instance, I sought and succeeded in getting a note from him, to travel to Ilorin, and speak to his deputy at the Supreme Military Council then, late Gen.Tunde Idiagbon rtd. Lo and behold, I met him, but the situation wasn’t any different. In fact, Gen.Idiagbon issued me a threat, that if I insist on him blowing his trumpet, he would instruct for my immediate arrest, regardless of the introduction letter from his boss. I said take it easy sir, my intention is honourable. Like his boss, talking about your achievements, is akin to exaggerating your sense of importance, or your abilities for accomplishment.

But I am particularly happy with today, because, years after the death of Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, and on the occasion of the celebration of the 2022 Independence anniversary of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has reversed his position on the issue of the blowing of the trumpet.

In an address to the nation this morning, PMB took time to score himself high, alongside his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, because as he said, in addition to the many achievements of his administration, and pursuant to the effective public financial management system put in place by his government, Nigeria succeeded in exiting two economic recessions. Sure, this was achieved because of the very practical and realistic monetary and fiscal measures employed by the government.

Not only had his administration given the desired priority to the agricultural sector through a series of incentives to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises that resulted in creating millions of jobs, as he mentioned, PMB was quick to blow his trumpet more, thus:

“Leading this initiative, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention in a number of areas as well as the Anchor Borrowers Programme had created the required leverages for Nigerians towards self-sufficiency in food and the necessary attraction for farming as a business”.

After a detailed examination of some of the challenges facing the country, and the efforts of the Government at addressing them, including the thorny issue of the strike of the University lecturers, PMB returned his mouth to the trumpet, thus:

“In the past few years, we have witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed our nation. However, the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges. It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues. I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams.”

As a spin doctor, who is interested in projecting favourable interpretations of the activities of the government and the party in power, especially in the media, by this boldness, to blow the trumpet of his achievements, PMB had simply given me the best of the gifts that any President can give his people at a trying time like now.

Yes, although this is his last independence anniversary speech as an elected President, the speech would help in correcting some of the distortions, and the negative perceptions about his performance.

Hip Hip Hip! Hurrah Nigeria at 62. And Hurrah PMB, for changing your stance, on the issue of the blowing of the trumpet.

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Opinion

APC : The Time To Tame The Fanning Out Of Fake News

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Senator Abdullahi Adamu,APC National Chairman

 

By Bala Ibrahim.

For the best part of last night, and the early part of this morning, my phones were ringing non stop, and virtually all the calls were coming with questions for clarification. As one heading the bureaucratic arm in charge of media management of the party in power, where important decisions taken by the elected representatives of the party are passed to you to process, for onwards transmission to the public, as directed, such calls can come under the classification of the normal call of duty. But not when they emanate out of the intent to install in the media, an insolent and impudent information, by the friends of fake news. Yes, the friends of fake news.

I did my best addressing the media last night, mostly my colleagues in the Hausa service of the electronic media, but by the morning time, the queries have skyrocketed to something like a quiz of scepticism. Everyone is asking, some with doubts, about a letter sighted by the media, to the effect that the National Working Committee, NWC, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, as the chairman, had written, in an unpleasant language, to the Presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. As expected, in the eagerness to be the first to break news, some of my colleagues were quick to release the story, some, with nasty captions.

One of the moderate caption reads thus, APC Campaign Council List: Adamu Accuses Tinubu Of Side-lining NWC. It went on to say, “The chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdullahi Adamu has accused the party’s presidential candidate Bola Tinubu of appointing members of the Presidential Campaign Council without the approval of APC National Working Committee. Tinubu had on Friday unveiled a 422-man committee comprising political heavyweights and other notable members of the party to pilot the various sub-committees of the campaign council. However, days after releasing the list, Tinubu’s campaign council postponed its inauguration to accommodate other interests and stakeholders within the party”.

Some media houses went as far as releasing the purported nasty letter, which by implication means, the party has arrived at the junction of the rumoured rift, and the anticipated rupture.

A paragraph from the said wordings of the chairman reads, “It is against this background that the NWC received with astonishment and regret, the press release by the PCC on 23rd September, 2022, in which a purported list of appointees was announced, which effectively served as the approved roster of participants in the Party’s Presidential Campaign Council. The purported list not only came as a complete surprise to the NWC and the Party’s leadership, but also contravened the principles and purposes of the arrangements that you and I had led towards the adoption of the Organogram of the PCC, and its principal officials”- Sen. Abdullahi Adamu.

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My first quarrel is not with the content of the letter, but it’s qualification for authenticity, which ought to lie on the genuineness of the signature on it. And that gave way to my second, and most painful quarrel, because the letter in circulation, has not even been signed by anyone. It is a draft.

The last time I checked the dictionary, on the meaning of draft, it said, a preliminary version of a piece of writing. And my English teacher used to say, preliminary is the beginning, not the tentative, or fixed. It can change. Which means, even if there was the intention to fight, if there is a change of mind, the intention to fight can not be published as a fight.

No sooner than these agents of fake news had finished their work, than a release came from the Party, duly signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Bar. Felix Morka, viz:

APC PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN COUNCIL – SENATOR ABDULLAHI ADAMU DID NOT WRITE ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU.

“Our attention has been drawn to a “DRAFT” letter in circulation purportedly written by His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the National Chairman of our great Party, addressed to His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential Candidate of our great Party, expressing dissatisfaction over the recently released list of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). To be clear, the “DRAFT” letter did not emanate from the Party. An UNSIGNED letter that marks itself as a ‘DRAFT’ cannot and should not be attributed to its purported author. The National Chairman of our Party and our Presidential Candidate maintain cordial and effective communication channels, and enjoy full liberty of open and frank conversations on matters of interest to the Party and our Presidential Campaign. As such, an unsigned “DRAFT” letter of the kind in circulation is patently unnecessary and of no qualitative value to engagement between the Party and the PCC. We will not be distracted by the wishes and actions of detractors that wait gleefully but in vain for some kind of crisis to erupt between the Party and the PCC. We stand united, as a Party, in our resolve and commitment to execute a focused and issue-driven campaign to persuade Nigerians to renew our mandate in next year’s general election”.

As if acting with the instinct of a premonition, at the occasion of the signing of a peace accord today, which had in attendance virtually all the Presidential candidates for the 2023 elections, alongside their party chairmen or representatives, the chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, took time to address the issue of fake news, saying unlike in previous elections, where thuggery and violence were the major threats, in 2023, fake news is the major challenge. He said and I quote, “According to the latest fake news, the name of the winner of the Presidential election of 2023 has already been released, long before the ballots are cast”.

In my elementary days of training on Basic Journalism, one phrase that was repeatedly used, and made to resonate like a religious verse was, DONT BE THE FIRST TO GET IT WRONG.

My colleagues and I can do justice to the mission of the National peace committee, by refusing to be amongst the first to get it wrong, through the taming of the fanning out of fake news. And the best time to do it, is NOW.

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Opinion

What You Need To Know About Professor Iya Abubakar

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Professor Iya Abubakar

 

Sadiq Mohammed Mubi

Prof. Iya Abubakar, is from Adamawa state of Northeastern Nigeria, the first-rated Mathematician Of Africa who  became Professor Of Mathematics at the Age Of 28.

Iya Abubakar had his first class in mathematics at London University (University College Ibadan) in the ’50s,  and completed a Doctorate Degree at Cambridge University, England in the 60s.

Professor Iya Abubakar was the only Nigerian appointed as a Professor in the Department of Mathematics, ABU Zaria, at the age of 28 in 1963.

A first class graduate of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, he is the first Northerner to earn a PhD in any field when he earned it at the University of Cambridge.

He became Head of Department, Mathematics and Computer Science, ABU Zaria, at the age of 32 (a record in the Nigerian University system).

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Second indigenous Vice Chancellor of ABU Zaria, at the age of 40 and retired from academics at the age of 44.

His academic productivity suffered a lot when he became Vice Chancellor (President) of the University.

Biography and Academic Carrier

Iya Abubakar was born on 14 December 1934 at Boloko, Belel District, Maiha Local Government Area of Adamawa state. He attended Barewa College Zaria, University College Ibadan (later  became the University of Ibadan) and earned a PhD at the University of Cambridge in England.

He worked as a visiting Professor at the University of Michigan in 1965 – 1966, before being appointed as Professor of Mathematics at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria at the age of 28, in 1967.

He held this position until 1975, as well as a visiting professorship at the City University of New York from 1971-72. In 1975, he was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University  Zaria, a position he held until 1978.

Prof. Iya Abubakar is exceptionally gifted, genius, talented, an industry of knowledge, the best of the best  and second to none.

Prof. Iya Abubakar is no doubt one of the finest brains to have come out of the North, whose legacies in academia are worth celebrating.

The people of “SABONDALE” comprised of Madagali, Michika, Mubi North/  South and Maiha Local Government Areas are indeed proud of their son ( Iya Abubakar) who is an elder statesman.

Youth of the 21st century may find it difficult to refill the vacuum created by GOD’s wishes, when death comes, only GOD knows.    “Allah ya bashi lafiya da  cikawa da imani”.  “Esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Prof. Iya Abubakar was a director of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1972 to 1975.

Later career

After the regime of Lt-Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo handed power back to an elected Government in 1979, Iya Abubakar was appointed as the Federal Minister of Defence, holding this office until 1982. From 1993 – 2005, he was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the

University of Ibadan.

In the late 1990s, he served as the Director of  National Mathematical Centre at Abuja, and chaired both the National Manpower Commission of Nigeria and the non-governmental Africa International Foundation for Science and Technology.

Iya Abubakar was elected Senator for the Adamawa North constituency of Adamawa State, Nigeria at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, running on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

He took office on 29 May 1999.

He was re-elected in April 2003. After taking his seat in the Senate in June 1999 – 2007. He was appointed to committees on Public Accounts, Banking & Currency (chairman), Commerce and Finance & Appropriation.

Iya Abubakar has also chaired the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation [6] and the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

Prof. Iya Abubakar, holds a traditional title in Mubi Emirate Council, Adamawa state, as the Galadima of Mubi.

The great Professor, has since retired from active participation in public office and is now living a quiet private life

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