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Nigeria and the dance of death



asuu strike

Sometimes around May 2021, Dein, a local chief from Ataba, in the Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State, showed up at a relative’s wedding. The tall Dein was clad in his black trousers, white shirt and red cap, though supported by a small white handkerchief he held in his hand.

All pointers expose Dein as a kind, obedient Igbo.  He has come to a public function, not just with the intent of devouring the mountain of fufu, rice and palm wine but to also offer some entertainment in return for the goodwill of the celebrant.

Dein stepped forward; danced to the admiration of many onlookers and participants at the party.  He was being hailed loudly by those who were jolted by his suddenly failing steps, the mighty fall of the Iroko to the ground and the belief that he was making up some magic. Behold, Dein the dancer has travelled to another land to become king and was not going to be rescued by the audience who were still basking in the euphoria of the departing, fading entertainment. Interestingly, they all thought he was still dancing until he finally danced to the admiration of death. Tragedy!

The Nigeria of today has danced to the admiration of many, crashed like a pack of cards and scattered. The Nigerian people have been left to admire and clap at the beautiful steps taken by the country, clap at its sudden crash to the ground and might not be revived from their false belief until there is a Nunc Dimittis.

The state, through her functionaries, has comically engaged the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities in a fruitless negotiation since it decided to embark on an interminable strike on February 14, 022. The 2009 agreement which was duly signed by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan could not be operated by or even renegotiated sufficiently by the regime of taciturn Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The President is being represented by the duo of Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education.

Ambitious Ngige, a former governor, has signified interest in the presidency and failed, just like his counterpart in the education ministry. They have bullied the leadership of the ASUU and failed at the foremost responsibility of resolving the agelong dispute, thereby allowing them to return to class.

Meanwhile, the state is being looted to nothing by elements in the government, starting from the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, and other top government functionaries. Ahmed Idris stole a whooping N109bn.

The awareness of the frustrated Nigerian students, who have been left to wander around for the past seven months, was triggered by the sudden consciousness and protests of the newly elected leaders of the South-West branch of the National Association of Nigeria Students. These students trooped out, scorned the Minister of Education for proceeding to file a lawsuit when there is a belief that the negotiation was at the point of being signed. The comic relief was farcical, as nobody believed that Adamu Adamu, in his right senses, will have opted for the rigours and frustration of the Nigerian judiciary after spending seven appetising months negotiating.

The reputable National Industrial Court has pronounced that the striking lecturers should go resume while the case is in progress. The ASUU President without sounding contemptuous to the respected temple of justice has also stated that it is anybody’s right to appeal the decision of a lower court, most especially in a controversial case filed by the Minister of Labour and not the Attorney-General (directly representing the Federal government). How do you decide a case not filed by the Federal government in its favour?

I do hope that this is not a dance of death for the educational sector in the country, as students have experienced various predicaments and devastation. From the COVID-19 era, strike and #EndSARS, till now when students have been forced to spend seven months at home. Is this not a dance of death?

  • Akingbondere Tunde, an intern at the Falana & Falana’s Chambers, writes from Lagos
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