The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), at the end of its 19th National Delegates Conference, held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital over the weekend, has expressed disappointment in the implementation of the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The body of Faculty staff in public universities in the country rated the fight against corruption of the Buhari led All Progressive Alliance (APC) as ‘half- hearted’, saying that the poor are getting poorer while “a tiny club of novae riche, treasury looters, phantom contractors, subsidy scammers and rent collectors are flowing in scandalous opulence and manipulating the legal structures of the state to escape.
Addressing delegates present at the conference, ASUU President, Dr, Nasir Fagge, whose tenure ended at the two-day conference, lamented that the present administration appears to have no direction in its policies, thereby causing Nigerians to be disillusioned with its ‘change without transformation’ approach to governance.
Isa alleged that the Nigerian government has abandoned a socialist welfare state prescribed by the provisions of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution, for unfavourable policies handed down by IMF and World Bank.
His words: “One year after, there has been no positive change in the major indices of growth and development, be it poverty reduction, safety and security, disease control or access to basic amenities and public good”.
“The disappointment of Nigerians stems from the fact that we have a government whose leadership promised change, but which is not practising transformation (deep, fundamental change).
“Democracy in Nigeria is still seen superficially as what leaders do for the people rather than government by the people”.
Fagge said as intellectuals, ASUU as a union is aware that the Nigerian condition is a reflection of the conspiracy between African rulers and agents of Bretton Wood Institutions particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB).
“The conspiracy was consummated in the 1980s when these institutions for the protection and advancement of capitalism, came up with their ‘standard reform package’ now known as the ‘Washington consensus.’
“This package was designed for the African and other underdeveloped economies in order to perpetuate their enslavement to the capitalist world. Many of us would recall General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s debate on this ‘consensus’ in 1985/86.
“Even though the Nigerian people overwhelmingly rejected the IMF/WB loan, the Babangida Government still went ahead to implement the key neoliberal prescriptions of devaluation of the Naira and trade liberalisation”.
He added: “President Olusegun Obasanjo and his successors from 1999 have unabashedly intensified the implementation of this package through criminal privatisation and commercialisation of public assets, in faithful surrender to the Washington ‘consensus.’
Disappointed that successive governments and the ruling class turned deaf ears to the voices of reason and opposition to the moves by labour movement, civil society groups, the media and other progressive forces in the country, Fagge added that the Asian Tigers; Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, got industrialised without surrendering their economies to the prowling reach of local and foreign marketers of the ‘Washington consensus’
However, he challenged ASUU to continue to work relentlessly with other progressives to fight for the common good of Nigerians, saying that the union has donated an initial sum of N20 million to help ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians displaced from their homes and communities in the North East, due to the insurgency in the region.
This amount, according to him, was in addition to the N5million earlier donated by the union to the National Hospital, Abuja, for medical assistance to the victims of the Nyanya Motor Park bomb blast.
In his goodwill message, the Minister for Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, represented by his Special Adviser, A.B. Baffa said the Buhari administration was “peerlessly committed to the resuscitation or restoration of the Nigerian Project by confronting the evils of corruption, unemployment, insecurity and indiscipline”.
The host Vice Chancellor, Prof. Enefiok Essien of the University of Uyo, noted that the nation is currently experiencing financial and socio-economic stress.
He, however, urged the union to use the conference to deliberate on some nagging issues affecting the nation.
Highpoint of the occasion was election of new executive council which saw to the emergence Prof ‘Biodun Ogunyemi as President, Vice President: Prof Victor Osodeke; Treasurer: Dr Muttaka Usman; Fin Sec: Dr Musa Abdulahi; Welfare Officer; Dr Emylia Jaja; Internal Auditor, Prof Sunny Ighalo and Dr David Jangtam as the Legal Officer.