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Who Will Listen to ASUU?



Mahmoud Zukogi



Maikudi Abubakar Zukogi


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.

Breaking : Nigerian Army dismisses 2 soldiers over Killing of Islamic Scholar

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.


Emotional Farewell: Staff Bid Adieu to Departing Executive at FCTA




By Bala Ibrahim.

In Arabic, the name Najeeb means the Distinguished, the Noble or the Outstanding. The Arabic dictionary says if you’re seeking a name with inherent star power, Najeeb will make for a lovely fit. It is the masculine respelling of the Arabic favorite, Najib, which stands for the Distinguished.

Yesterday, Friday, 29/09/2023, I had reason to write on one of the 21 Chief Executives at the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCDA, that was relieved of his duty by Minister Nyesom Wike. As of the time of writing the article, I hadn’t any inkling about his name or the company he headed. Within minutes of the release of my article, responses came in torrents, giving the name, the agency he headed, his state of origin and an addendum, spelling out his personal qualities which people admire. These include honesty, generosity, courage and selflessness. His name was given as Najeeb, Najeeb Abdulsalam, whose sojourn as the Managing Director of the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Company, AUMTC, was cut short by the Minister of the FCT, barely three months on the saddle. I was made to understand that Najeeb came from Danbatta, in my native Kano state. In short, Najeeb Abdulsalam was described by many as a man of noble character. The encomiums were so encouraging that they gave me the justification for this follow up article.

For starters, I must make it very clear that the mission of the article is not in any way meant to support Najeeb for reasons of nepotism, not at all. I wrote without even knowing his name or where he came from. I was only touched by the show of uncommon support, solidarity and the sincere sentiments from those he led, alongside the testimonials of those that know him.

His staffers’ account gave the picture of an Officer and a Gentleman, with commitment to discharging correctly, the work he was assigned. Some of the staff that served under him were even volunteering to go with him, should the Government refuse to reverse the termination of his appointment. It is not surprising, because the name Najeeb is meant to go with a certain degree of nobility. Indeed I know some Najeebs, and truly all of them are noble and outstanding. One of the testimonies I received about Najeeb Abdulsalam is thus:

“I can proudly say that I was part of the overwhelming success he recorded during his 3 months+ long tenure at the agency. A friend and a business associate of mine financed the supply of spare parts and supervised the repairs of 37 number buses of the agency. The repairs are almost concluded with about 5 more buses to go out of the Lot. I managed the whole transaction on behalf of my friend. If merit was a yardstick for appointment into public office, Najib would have received a merit award instead of having himself unceremoniously sacked from office by the HMoFCT Bar. Nyesom Wike”.

Another one says: “Individuals like this should be fished out by the leadership of Government and celebrated to serve as an encouragement for others to perform well, Najeeb is highly disciplined and upright individual that I know, being a former Local Government Chairman twice”.

If the society sees traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty and fortitude as the virtues of good behavior or character, then people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should be among the cardinals of the system. Three out of the 8 point agenda of President Tinubu are, Job creation, Adherence to the rule of law and the Fight against corruption. With people like Najeeb Abdulsalam at work, I see Asiwaju’s ambition as a fait accompli.

The Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited (AUMTCO), where Najeeb Abdulsalam was heading up till last week, was established by the then Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, which had a change of name to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in 1984, as Abuja Bus Service (ABS). It later mutated to Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited, AUMTC. The ambition is to implement an environmentally friendly and sustainable Urban public transport system in the FCT, for effective, comfortable, safe, regular, efficient and affordable transport service delivery. The company has had a sizable turnover of chief executives, who served for years at various times, but according to insiders, non came near Najeeb Abdulsalam in performance. And he was only there for three months.

On his first day in office as the Minister of the FCT, Bars. Nyesom Wike promised to restore the national capital’s master plan by cleaning up the metropolis, instilling orderliness and ensuring infrastructural reforms, which were destroyed by decades of corruption, incompetence, carelessness and impunity. If the Minister is serious about matching words with action, people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should not be removed from the saddle.

Najeeb’s antecedents have given Kano state additional magnificence, especially when put alongside the recent story of Auwalu Salisu, the 22-year-old commercial tricycle operator in Kano, who returned the sum of N15 million, forgotten by a Chadian commuter in his tricycle.

The Minister of State in the FCT, Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure is an indigene of Kano. She must rise up to the challenge, by waking up to smell the coffee. The country needs people with integrity to manage it. And in Najeeb Abdulsalam, I see a glimpse of such noble-mindedness.

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Kano State Education In 100 Days-Muazzam



Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf

Let me begin by refreshing our memory with the popular saying of the African Independence Revolutionary Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This is a clear testimony that any nation which wants to progress and have an independent life must make education its priority in governance.

This important reason is what led Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankaso’s Administration in the years 1999-2003 and 2011-2015 to introduce a primary school pupil feeding program, providing them with free uniforms, canceling school fees, introducing the payment of SSCE fees to Secondary School Students, establishing State Universities, and offering overseas scholarships to outstanding indigent students to study in different disciplines. Today, many of these students have recorded tremendous achievements and are contributing their best to the state, Nigeria, and overseas.

His Excellency Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf promised during his campaigns that he would continue from where his Leader Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso left off. Education was made a priority in his blueprint, being the first, second, and third agenda items. This was stated by H.E Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso several times and was reiterated in the RMK 2023 Blueprint, page 3: “Education is a public good, we shall ensure, through the correct reforms and investment, that all our schools provide the appropriate quality education to our citizens…”

The first assignment of Engr. Abba Kabir on education was in primary education. He conducted a special investigation on AGILE, a program that supports girls’ child education. He selected 19 LGAs for the program and disbursed the sum of N917 million to benefit 45,850 female students. Unfortunately, this World Bank-supported project didn’t receive the required attention and results until now. One may inquire from 23/6/2023, when the program was launched until today, about how many female children are enrolled in school, especially in rural communitiesThe results would be certainly amazing.

Secondary school students in Kano State are in joyful moments after the Executive Governor of Kano State paid their NECO fees. The previous APC administration had abandoned the examination fees of 55,000 students, but they turned a deaf ear towards the end of their administration. To save the students from this quagmire, the Kano State Government ordered the release of N1 billion to ensure they were eligible for the examination. It might interest you to know that 11 boarding schools were abandoned in the past administration, and N79,284,538 million was released for their renovation and reopening during the 5th State Executive Council.

On 23/8/2023, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, approved the payment of N700 million to 7000 Kano indigent students at Bayero University, Kano. He also approved the renovation of pedestrian bridges at Bayero University, Kano, Sa’adatu Rimi University, Kano, and Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Kano, which were abandoned since 2015. We have another great effort where 131 Kano indigent students have been approved to travel overseas for a Master’s Scholarship Program sponsored by the Kano State Government.

This is a clear indication that the Education Sector has been made a priority in the first 100 days under the Leadership of the NNPP in Kano State. During the past APC administration, releasing funds for the Education Sector to cater to its immediate needs was not easy. They were more inclined to demolish school structures to transform them into shops, plazas, event centers, or recreational facilities. This behavior drove donor agencies and organizations to neighboring states like Katsina and Jigawa State to fulfill their charitable gestures.

We have reason to thank the Almighty Allah for these wonderful and generous gestures. We believe and hope that the first year of H.E Abba Kabir Yusuf’s administration will bring back the lost glories in the education sector in Kano State, Northern Nigeria, and the country at large, In Shaa Allah (God willing).

Ibrahim Mu’azzam Senator SSA Public Affairs to the Kano State Governor

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In my piece of August 23rd, 2023 titled “Blackmail Against Judiciary and Threat to Kano’s Security”, I brought to the fore the position of Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, owing to comments on Radio made by his Broadcast Media Aide, Abdullahi tanko Galadanchi. From those comments, the Governor counted on nothing to achieve victory, other than bribing the Honourable Judges of the Tribunal. This position was further affirmed by a leaked audio attributed to a Political Mobilization Aide for Kano South, who advised the Secretary to the State Government to ensure that all funds are channelled to procuring favourable judgement, even if to the detriment of the state, he emphasised. The Secretary to the State Government also, in his speech to mark 100 days of the government in office, attributed the administration’s failure to fulfil some of its promises to paucity of funds caused by enormous expenditure related to the proceedings of the Election Petition. Summarily, the administration has in its dwarfed wisdom, stylishly legitimised efforts to procure judgement through emotional blackmail, all of these came on the back of threats to lives of Tribunal Judges, and threats of making Kano a field of cultivation of lifeless bodies through anarchy and banditry.The administration of Abba Kabir Yusuf is indeed always clever by half; I predicted the ouster of some appointees that outwardly made heated, inciting or compromising statements, however in its narrow foresight, the government sacked only two out of numerous appointees that danced to an obviously authorised drum and song. We saw the Secretary to the State Government on video, accompanied by some Commissioners, threatening fire and brimstone, saying unambiguously in Hausa that “duk wanda ya taba mana zabe a Kano, sai dai uwarsa ta haifi wani”. This is the worst form of debasement that government has ever been brought to in the history of Kano State. The most senior appointed official of government threatening lives of Honourable Judges is indeed worrisome to every sane mind. Of course, tens of appointees followed suit thereafter, expressing intentions to wreck unprecedented havoc in the event of an unfavourable judgement, one after the other, we listened as they clawed at imaginary straws and have continued to sank even lower into abyss. In the case of self-acclaimed rufflers of feathers, Kperoogi and Naja’atu, it is funny that they missed the threats to lives of Honourable Judges and did not pay attention to government officials threats to make Kano worse than a banditry-torn Zamfara and Katsina; rather they only found their sense and logic in seeking a court to defend the indefensible and become father Christmas by granting Abba and NNPP that which they did not ask of the Court. Their illogical logic did not cause them to realise that APC in its petition raised numerous issues around non-compliance, and the NNPP even after its poor defence (due mainly to its complicity in the matter), failed to file any counter against the APC to cause us to have to defend the lawfulness of our votes. Yet, Kperoogi and Naja’atu believe that the court should have fed Abba & NNPP in their mouths, since Kwankwaso has made that a birth-right of theirs. In her comments, Naja’atu also exclaimed that if elections were to hold in Kano today, Abba would win by a landslide; this same woman not too long ago said the same of Atiku Abubakar, and we all recall how badly he was trounced in her home state of Kano.One would imagine that Kwankwaso, Abba & NNPP would have learnt a lesson or two from the irreparable damage the recent loss in court has caused them. Unfortunately, Abba through his mouthpiece, Bature, has come out to claim that the Honourable Judges might have been made to give judgement under duress. This speaks volumes of the failure of the Abba administration to see what is placed right before them, right in front of their noses. The Honourable Judges in their submissions have outrightly made clear the reasons why they chose to pronounce judgement via zoom, and it is the fault of none but those who demonstrated an uncultured, recalcitrant and violent tendency by threatening lives of judges and peace of the entire state, in the event of a loss. Let me do Abba and Bature a favour of asking them to read page 226 of the judgement, and frankly undertake an introspection exercise before engaging the public on such a matter again. Since I know you both may still be in slow recovery from the reality check dished by the Tribunal, I will assist you with some of the painfully piercing lines; “I use this opportunity to condemn the gang of Red Cap wearers… I am in no doubt that the security Agencies know and are aware of those who removed their eyes from their case and put it on the Judiciary. They are also aware of those who extended the threat further by declaring that THEY WILL KILL THE JUDGES. THIS THREAT MUST NOT BE SWEPT UNDE

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