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UNIABUJA ASUU’s selective amnesia

Symptoms of chronic selective amnesia (borne of mischief and fired by thinly disguised selfishness) were in full display as some self-styled leaders of the University…

Symptoms of chronic selective amnesia (borne of mischief and fired by thinly disguised selfishness) were in full display as some self-styled leaders of the University of Abuja branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) laboured, at a press conference, to explain their rejection of the advertisement of the soon-to-be-vacant position of vice chancellor of the institution.

It was the second time in as many days that they unsuccessfully attempted to advance their patently unacceptable, logically unjustifiable and legally indefensible position: a day earlier they failed to convince anyone (outside their tiny circle) at a congress meeting of the union, where only they and their ilk were allowed to speak.

But what really are the issues? The main, if not only, issue – any other is just included to deceive the unsuspecting public – is who succeeds Abdulrasheed Na’Allah as vice chancellor. In the last five years (bar a few months), UniAbuja has witnessed such spectacular and unprecedented positive transformation that it is hardly recognizable.

This is a complete departure from its unenviable past (according to the late ASUU president, Festus Iyayi, in its first 25 years UniAbuja could achieve only 8% of its projected potentials). Friends and foes alike have conceded the fact that Na’Allah has done so well. He has brought to bear uncommon vision, passion and palpable sense of mission. This is in spite of spirited intermittent attempts by elements within the ASUU leadership to distract, derail or slow him down.

These are the chaps questioning the powers of the Minister of Education (who acted on behalf of the Visitor, President Bola Tinubu). Selective amnesia, nourished in desperation, has made them not take into consideration that Tahir Mamman (a professor of Law, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, former Vice Chancellor and former Director General of the Nigerian Law School) must have thoroughly looked at issues and satisfied himself that in the absence of university councils he can take decisions, including advert for vice chancellors’ positions. He had earlier given approval in respect of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto and the University of Maiduguri. Not even a whimper from their ASUU branches. UniAbuja’s are indeed a different breed!

But the hypocrisy and double standards in the ASUU UniAbuja’s rejection of the advert and powers of the Minister to approve same became obvious given that the Minister has in the last eight months taken key decisions on behalf of the council, including extending the tenure of the acting bursar and approving staff promotion.

We members of the UniAbuja community know as a fact that the so-called rejection of the advert is never because of its legality or otherwise; it’s simply because of its content. The advert has raised the bar: now it is only accomplished academics (in the true sense of cutting-edge and verifiable scholarship and research output) who can so much as aspire to be vice-chancellor. The requirements are commendably of global standard. Our local champions with no CV, no exposure, and no track record of intellectual achievement cannot compete. Dubious claim to illegality must be invoked. The advert must be rejected, then get it rescinded and withdrawn, and ultimately ensure that we return to the days of mediocrity, the abyss of obscurantism and mendacity, the years of the locust.

While not begrudging those who wallow in their chosen blissful world of selective amnesia, one expects ASUU as an assembly of intellectuals to evince, promote and operate only on the basis of truth, and to insist on excellence, and not constitute itself as an accomplice or actual culprit in the conspiracy to halt our march to greatness. Our collective responsibility is to keep the tempo of phenomenal positive transformation at UniAbuja and to continue to strive toward making ours a global showpiece and reference point in intellectual pursuit. Nothing – just nothing – should hold or slow us down. Not even ASUU!


Sadiq el-Saye, PhD, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Abuja

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