GOVT CAN SHUT DOWN IF IT MUST; IT WOULD BE GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH
On 4th September, 2013, the Minister of information Mr. Labaran Maku in an attempt to give false impression that ASUU/FGN agreement is not implementable, declared that government activities could shut down if all demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were to be met. To us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), our simple response is: government should shutdown if it must; it would simply be good riddance to bad rubbish.
If this government could spend over N3 trillion between 2009 and now to bail out failed banks and did not shut down; if this government could spend over $1billion to buy over warlords and militants from Niger Delta under a fraudulent amnesty program and yet did not go bankrupt; if this government could spend annually a sum of N1.3 trillion on members of the National Assembly and the economy is not leaking as a result; if the unconstitutional office of the first lady could draw funds from public purse to finance her profligacies and yet government has not shutdown; and finally if a small clique of politicians and oil marketers could steal over $7billion from the oil subsidy funds and the economy did not fail; then we fail to see the wisdom in Mr. Labaran Maku's claim that spending just N500 billion annually on University education is what would sink the ship of this government.
The minister has tried to use the excuse of spending on the war against Boko Haram to justify government crass irresponsibility towards public education. The reality however is that the fastest and most reliable antidote to Boko Haram and other ethno-religious conflict in Nigeria is expanding social services through increasing government investment in public education and job creation. Only social justice, not guns, will win the war on terror.
The virulent corruption and anti-poor policies of this clueless capitalist government has become so unbearable to the working masses and poor Nigerians that if not for a lack of organisation and a bold revolutionary leadership, this government should have been consigned to the dustbin of history a long time ago, not least since January 2012. Every section of the oppressed population has grown tired of the anti-poor policies and failure of this government in the delivery of social programs like education, healthcare, good roads, electricity, water, accommodation and most importantly jobs. Therefore no one would mourn if this government shuts down, instead Nigerians would heave a sigh of relief and jubilate.
Meanwhile, all these are propaganda by the government to blackmail University lecturers and also prepare public opinion for an all-out assault to break the strike. The ERC again restate its warnings to the government not to attempt to break the strike. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to immediately declare a general strike and mass protest in solidarity with ASUU.
The ERC urge ASUU to continue to stand firm and not to allow itself and its members to be blackmailed. Already ASUU does not want to call for protests and demonstrations because of government's accusations and blackmail that the opposition have infiltrated ASUU. In January 2012 during the anti-fuel price struggle, the government made similar accusations which led to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to hastily call off the general strike. Today, Nigerians are the worst for it.
Retreating in the face of government's propaganda and blackmail is never an effective way to struggle and wearing padded gloves to engage in battle a government armed with spiked cudgels is the fastest path to a devastating defeat. By remaining on a sit-at-home strike instead of calling for mass protests and demonstrations, ASUU is slowly yielding the ground for government propaganda to sell.
Therefore, the ERC urge ASUU to boldly answer government blackmail of infiltration by opposition with a call for a nationwide public demonstration to show that not only is it still in firm control of its strike but that it is also capable of unleashing a mass movement to compel this government to use Nigeria's resources otherwise routinely looted to fund public education.
ASUU as a result of its history of defence of education has the credibility and authority to lead a mass movement to save public education. Therefore ASUU must name and begin to actively mobilise its members as well as all Nigerians who desire a permanent end to the crisis rocking Nigeria public education for a day for a nationwide mass protest and demonstration to show to the government that if it continues its irresponsibility towards public education, shutting down would be the least of its worries as it would risk being kicked out by a mass movement.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto
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