Rumbling universities and fit-as-fiddle President

Rumbling universities and fit-as-fiddle President

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:50 am

Bola Bolawole

By Bolanle Bolawole

Sad news: Our Universities are rumbling again! The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on strike and the Universities are shut. Academic and other activities are suspended and students, dejected and heads hung, have headed home to an equally morose and flustered parents and guardians. The gains of the past many months of uninterrupted academic calendar, which promised the possibility of a straightening out of an already dislocated University system, are under savage attack again. The culprit is a Federal Government which enters into agreements with the sole aim of flouting them; it makes promises it never means to honour. Since the children of the rich and powerful school abroad, the victims of another shut-down and of the systematic and general debasement of our educational system are the poor and hapless Nigerian citizens and their children. For once, however, the Government, represented by the Minister of Education, has admitted culpability; acknowledging that it entered into agreements it has honoured in its breach and signed a Memorandum of Understanding it has treated, like Adolf Hitler treated the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War, as mere pieces of paper. Two factors which dove-tail into each other are responsible for this: Lack of the political will to do the right things and paucity of funds. Paucity of funds exists because existing funds are embezzled and what is left is misallocated and misapplied. Corruption persists because there is the lack of political will to wrestle it to the ground. Under the very nose of a government that claims to have zero-level tolerance for corruption, corruption thrives. In furtherance of corruption, cronyism, and tribalism, huge funds are allocated in wrong directions which benefit only a few and where they are stolen while commanding heights such as education get paltry allocations akin to asking that a man wash his whole torso with spittle. We shall soon return to this.

Good news: Our ailing president is hale and hearty again! Hurrah! President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that he is now well and rearing to go. He is anxious, he said, to return home and resume his duties – but for his doctors! Buhari’s doctors haven’t given him the all-clear yet and rather than dish out orders to them, like the most powerful president in the world that he is, Buhari said he now knows better to obey his doctors’ advice. I give you four instances which give you an idea how lowly our leaders rate our intelligence. One: When a student is advised to withdraw from the University, can he shun the advice and say, ‘sorry, I have heard your advice but I give myself the liberty to reject it’? That “advice” is just a diplomatic way or the official communication channel of saying ‘you are expelled from the University’. Consider Buhari’s doctors’ ‘advice’ in similar light and you begin to laugh at the hypocrisy of Buhari and his band of jesters. Two: If the air traffic controller (which is akin to a doctor in this regard) does not give an aircraft the ‘all-clear’ signal to take off or land and it does, what is likely to happen? So, if Buhari takes off from London without the ‘all-clear’ from his doctors, what should we expect? The third is a story Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, revered General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, has told his congregation many times over. A man was ill and after all efforts to cure him failed, he was brought to the church and Pastor Adeboye prayed over him and God healed him. After a while, they noticed that the man no longer attended church and a delegation was raised to find out what was the matter. They met the man and he welcomed them warmly, after which they posed the question why he had not been coming to church. The man asked them: I was ill and was brought to your church; they said yes. You prayed and God answered your prayer and I was healed; they again answered yes. The man asked: When a man is ill and goes to hospital, is treated, and becomes well again, does he remain in the hospital or he goes back home; to which they responded, he goes back home. The man then pulled out his joker: I was ill and was brought to you; you prayed for me and I was healed and I have returned home.

What is wrong with that? The moral of that story is that when a sick man goes to hospital and is healed, he goes back home. He may continue to remain in the hospital only if he is unable to settle his hospital bill and is, therefore, detained by the hospital authorities. If you visit our hospitals, you are likely to find such cases. That, I am sure, is not the case with Buhari. Although he has refused to tell us the nature of his sickness and the cost to the Nigerian tax-payers, it is certain that the costs of his stay, upkeep, and treatment in London and those of the cabals around him there are being borne by the Nigerian tax-payers. He is not being detained because he could not pay his bills. If he is well but is being detained in London by his doctors, that will be ludicrous and we should ask his doctors why. Charley Boy and his group should then change tactics and reframe their placards to read “Release our President” “This detention is Illegal” “Let our President come back home” And we should immediately enlist the services of Interpol and the assistance of British and other world leaders to prevail upon Buhari’s doctors to release our president from illegal detention. But I can assure you that none of such is happening here. If Buhari is still in hospital, it is because he is not well yet. He is still sick; possibly not as sick as before but not yet well enough all the same to be discharged form hospital. All the photo-tricks and shenanigans of the past few weeks of traffic to London to behold a “fit-as-fiddle” president are mere politics and theatrics. Otherwise, the Yoruba proverb of a chick that the owner is trying to protect from the rampaging hawk up there in the sky but which complains that it is being denied its liberty is apposite here. Pray, where will that liberty lead the chick? In the hawk’s stomach, of course! Finally, let us hear the conclusion of the matter. Jesus Christ says in Matthew 9: 12 that “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick”. If Buhari is still in hospital; it can only mean he is still sick and not yet whole.

Now back to the ASUU strike. I am happy that the Obafemi Awolowo University chapter is not joining the national strike – at least for now. OAU is my alma mater; readers of this column should by now know that; and I have wards there. The University lags behind its peers and was, before the immediate past acting VC, Prof. Anthony Adebolu Elujoba, came in to stabilize the system, in danger of losing a whole academic session. It is not as if danger has been completely averted, though, but chances are that if the gains of the Elujoba tenure are carried forward by the new substantive VC, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, OAU may ride the tide and coast home high and dry. So, I would that they do not join in the present strike so they could cover lost ground. I am sure this will not be too difficult for National ASUU to understand and concede. It would be too great a loss for OAU students and parents to forfeit a whole academic session and the national and international reputation of the institution itself will suffer irreparable damage to boot. ‘Great Ife’ remains the home of articulate and progressive students as well as trade Union activism. Nothing is likely to erode that. OAU must, however, declare its unequivocal support for the ongoing strike in principle and allow its spirit align with its colleagues’. The issues are straightforward enough and the success of the strike action will benefit everyone, OAU inclusive. But National ASUU will need to re-assess its position on the crisis that has engulfed its OAU chapter. In my view, National ASUU erred when it supported the compromised Caleb Aborishade-led OAU ASUU, thereby forcing a schism that compelled the vast majority of disenchanted OAU ASUU members to chart a new course; such that National ASUU, if it continues to back its losing horse, is not likely to command the loyalty of the vast majority of OAU ASUU members.

Whether it is Robert Mugabe or Muhammadu Buhari – or the Caleb Aborishade-led OAU ASUU – sit-tight leaders offend the sensibilities of the very people they purport to lead. Never knowing to quit when the ovation is loudest, they overstay their welcome and end up on the wrong side of history – like Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin Dada, Milton Obote, Samuel Kanyon Doe, Charles Taylor, Blaise Compaore, Mouammar Gaddafi, Laurent Gbagbo, Yahaya Jammeh, Ibrahim Babangida. The list is endless!


Thanks for your beautiful treatise of 13th August (True federalism will not come on a platter). It was absolutely perfect! Fact is, Pa Awolowo’s (only?) unfulfilled prediction on the masses’ uprising or revolution will come sooner than expected. The Northern political elite and their Southern collaborators capitalize on our docility to exploit us, using the principle of “weaken the strong to strengthen the weak” Enough! – Engr. Adewumi Ogundare, Ilorin.

Let me commend you for the courage to publish feedbacks even when they run contrary to your grains. Abiodun Komolafe and Kunle Owolabi (Who needs the local governments?) of August 6th are enemies of the people. No doubt, they are the cronies of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola who is denying the people their legitimate earnings. How could they have hailed and preferred the numerous false programmes through which public funds were siphoned to the payment of salaries and pensions of those who have no other means of livelihood? – Solomon Ajadi.

Local governments are important because they are closer to the people at the grassroots. INEC should conduct the elections so that we can stop having one-party local governments. – Feyi Akeeb Kareem.

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