As the economic situation in the country bites harder, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday came hard on President Muhammadu Buhari, criticising his welfare policies.
It also decried the handling of the current recession and Buhari’s alliance with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), among others.
The umbrella body of academics in Nigerian universities also lamented that the Federal Government was feigning igno rance that its economic policies were pauperising Nigerians and, by implication, making them go through psychological torture.
President of the union Biodun Ogunyemi, in a communique from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, recently, said rather than searching for homegrown solutions to Nigeria’s problems, government was busy hobnobbing with international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, which, according to him, are the same institutions promoting capitalism in most parts of the world.
He said it was apparent that the political class demonstrated its helplessness to meet the needs of Nigerians as they have taken it upon themselves to ensure Nigeria’s underdevelopment, misery, poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.
“The fundamental direction for the development of an egalitarian society as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution has not only been negated, but also vigorously violated by the governing class for the interest of a very few minority.
“Nigerian ruling class has a faulty conception of the capitalist path to national development. Nigeria’s governing class does not understand the historical path of the capitalism it is embracing; it is a clear exercise in self-delusion. Nigerian people were never told the type of capitalism the dominant class is building in the country.
“The inability of Nigeria’s political class to resolve the fundamental problems it has helped to create and nourish is noticeable in welfare problems, educational system, state of roads, access to health care, insecurity, national question, political disorder, economic mismanagement, unemployment and corruption,” the communique said.
The ASUU president bemoaned the purchasing power of Nigerians, which he said had been reduced many times over, noting that it would be preposterous to extricate Buhari’s government of complicity on the devaluation.
He described the current recession as self-imposed, a situation that has made the economy cash strapped.
According to ASUU, government could set up a process to revitalise the economy through massive investment in the citizenry.
He said beyond infrastructural development, there should be conscious injection of funds into the economy, especially through channels that cannot be manipulated by state and local government administrators.
The ASUU president said: “Government has failed to be an ally of the people and has handed over the economy to the neo-liberal agents with dire consequences for the country.
“As fallout of the mismanagement of the Nigerian economy, the nonpayment of salaries or payment in part by the federal, state and local governments has emerged as another affront on the country’s working class, who are finding it almost impossible to meet their obligations to family members and other concerns.
“The economy would continue to bleed and our people would be driven further into perpetual state of need and slavery.
“The manufacturing sector would become moribund and small and medium scale industries would then fizzle out. The economy would become uncontrollable import-oriented and the magnitude of descent into slavery would be unimaginable.
“We are convinced that people must organise to reject the present policies that further pauperise the poor and consolidate the grip of an exploitative ruling class on the polity.”
The academic union warned government not to hold it responsible if it mobilises its members nationwide to down tools over reluctance to meet the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement.
According to Ogunyemi, failure to periodically review the agreement is causing frustration within the academic community.
“The 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement provides for a periodic review after every three years. In fact, all things being equal, this should have been undertaken in 2012 and another review in 2015.
“However, government’s apparent reluctance to set up its renegotiation team for the review of the 2009 agreement, as consistently requested by the union since 2012, is getting our members increasingly worried and frustrated.
“Government should move to douse the tension on our campuses, otherwise ASUU should not be blamed for the consequences of government’s failure to honour and renegotiate the 2009 agreement,” Ogunyemi noted.