How would you regard unionism in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions especially in the 21th century?
It is not about blind fight, but about constructive engagement, not allowing authorities to make mistakes so you find occasion or an avenue to begin to fight them. It should be about stopping the authorities from making mistakes. It also requires taking some pro-active steps to stop the authorities from making mistakes so that is not an occasion to fight.
So unionism shouldn’t be about scattering, it is about how we will bring the authorities to follow their programs and policies and how we keep them within their limits. This is my view about unionism
What do you consider as the major challenges facing tertiary education in Nigeria?
The major problem of tertiary education in Nigeria is inadequate funding. I am sure that if the universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Educations, are adequately funded, the level of education will go to the height that it should be.
So you will see development coming up wherever it will and everywhere, unfortunately the government is not doing this and it takes ASUU’s fight before funding attention is given to tertiary education.
If the government gives fund, you will not have occasions for all this crisis that you see especially on our tertiary education. Lecturers are not warriors, they are not militants they are civil people, but like I told you unionism in the 21st century is about fighting to ensure that the right thing is done.
So what kind of advice do you have for emerging and upcoming union activists and those likely to replace you?
At all cost, they should shun opportunism. There are very many alluring things in the office before you know it, you are in trouble, and you will become a toothless bulldog because the administration with whom you have to deal with already have records about you, so any time you want to roar, they will pull out your skeletons in the cupboard, and then you go into your shell. So emerging unionist must shun opportunism.
You have barely two months to leaving office. What legacies are you leaving behind about unionism in UniAbuja.
Well, what is there is left for people to judge, I cannot be a judge over my own case, I will say I came, I saw, as to whether I conquered it is left for the people to say.
What is your advice for the leadership that is taking over from you?
They should focus on quality leadership and providing moral support to members. This we have formed over the four years that I have been in leadership. Like I said before, they should not allow management to make mistakes so they will have opportunity to fight them but rather stopping them from making mistakes, so you don’t even have opportunities to even fight all.
I want them to carry on in that same spirit, sniffing around for intentions of management, analyzing such intentions in line with the principles of the union and in the interest of the members.
This is my candid advice for those who will be taking over leadership from me, of course, you know we have capable hands that will be able to pick up and go on with this.
Some Nigerians see ASUU, as a body that is always threatening government and going on strike. What is your view on that?
First of all,I think it’s a wrong impression for anyone to think that ASUU is just there as a chief guard, or just there to appease the government.
No, I want to say clearly that if it wasn’t for the struggles of ASUU today, the states of universities in the country would have been reduced to state of primary schools.
Go to Enugu State, go to Zamfara State, go to many states, you will see no classroom anymore. I mean education at primary level is dead in many states and it has started to creep into the university system. If it wasn’t for the struggle of ASUU, things would have been worse than this. I look around this University of Abuja today, I see the results.
The ripple effects or the positives from the struggles of 2013 till now have brought many impacts to this university to be specific. The girls’ hostel, boys’ hostel, the clinic, the theater, and lots of renovation works in the class-rooms here and there ,are some of the successes we recorded. I mean these were dreams that were not there before and would not have been there if not because ASUU went on strike.
Let me tell you that in the budget of all the universities right now, you cannot find the capital grants anymore. So universities are being developed through the struggles of ASUU and that is it. Talk about funding of the education sector and it is ASUU’s struggle.
You heard about TETFUND intervention fund, TETFUND of course is the breach head of ASUU. Everything that you see today coming to education sector is just for the struggles of ASUU.
So if people don’t see and they are thinking otherwise, I pity those people. You go to hospitals today and you cannot find any reasonable things done by government, such would have been the state of universities where it not for ASUU.
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