ASUU’s Attack On AGF: Be Focus, Call Off The 8 Months Strike – Muhammad Bashir

By Muhammad Bashir

It surprises many reasonable citizens in Nigeria, seeing the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, demanding explanations from the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmad Idris, on how he owned some structures (structures that brings job opportunities to all and sundry, as well as eradicates poverty in the north), all situated in his hometown, Kano state.

Arguably, had ASUU meant good for Nigerians and wanted to invest in whistleblowing, this bogus allegation should have been raised, before the responsibility of steering the affairs of Treasury House reposed on Ahmad Idris right from the first term of President Buhari.

Surely, the claims made by ASUU revealed only its weakness in tracing the history of the sitting Accountant-General, Ahmad Idris, being a businessman in Kano for years – years, before he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 25, 2015 after Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla was sacked over alleged misappropriating N2.5 billion of security agencies’ funds…which the current AGF has not been caught planning to do.

Ahmad Idris, if found guilty of misappropriation whatsoever at the first place, he would not have been chosen by the Executive and Legislative Arms to serve his current position – which ASUU is glaring at, with jealousy and envy.

Respectfully, ASUU has disappointed many citizens, not only students in the country for not respecting and protecting the rights of Nigerian students and calling off the industrial action its members have embarked on, instead, it goes on to paint public figures black with baseless allegations and interrogations – they have forgotten that President Muhammadu Buhari had during his first term found Ahmad Idris trustworthy to serve as AGF again.

This public servant, as an officer in charge of all the National receipts and payments in the country, part of his work is to ensure that a proper system of account and financial transactions exist in every institution including universities – and has never executed any plan or action that violates government’s opinion, IPPIS and TSA included.

As an association that comprises many Historians as well as other fields, who in the eyes of students are reasonable enough, the narration I am afraid your focus has gone down and diminished to the level that you are now shielding yourselves with hollow and undefined words. Idris, to remind you, had prior to his appointment as AGF, held a position of a director in the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel and has for long been a member of the Association of National Accountant of Nigeria (ANAN).

In 2016, the federal government had announced that it saved about N500bn through the implementation of the Single Treasury Account (TSA) which ASUU raised eyebrows upon, asking President Buhari to exempt universities from – when it was introduced to serve as a tool for fighting corruption in the country…the same corruption every responsible citizen believed to be a causative agent of all the problems in our country – education inclusive.

It has always been hazy to understand why ASUU has been in war with such progressive plans in the country when it was clearly explained at that time by the Federal Government that the implementation of the project would enthrone a new regime of centralized, transparent and accountable internally generated revenue management system…a development all sectors will benefit.

Students, due to ASUU’s animosity towards education in this country, have now stayed home for more than 8 months, compelling them to bow out from the circle of studies – and making many of them engaged in unlawful activities that we have all witnessed not long enough in Lagos and other states during the EndSARS protests. The association now, has empty respect from the students in the country, with many planning to organize protests against them because they are TIRED.

Students thought you will at all cost prevent them from small and big issues that may affect their studies in their various institutions; they thought you will all use the knowledge you have to amicably hold a meeting(s) with the Federal Government to bring a lasting solution to this matter, considering the statement made by your President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, that implementing the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) will not affect the striking lecturers – but only federal workers enrolled.

He said and quoted, “The directive was meant for civil servants; university academics are not civil servants. We have an understanding with the government to develop an alternative platform that would be sensitive to the operations of the university and accommodate its peculiarities.

The platform we are developing will also respect the autonomy of our universities as obtained globally. The idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation is alien to university operations because it will halt its flexibility.”

In many occasions, ASUU has been commending the implementation of TSA, which is a twin brother of IPPIS, even describing the development as a good policy. Their only disturbing issue is that IPPIS’ bottlenecks are too much and that, all universities must be exempted from it in view of the speed with which universities’ activities are carried out and also because lots of funds paid into the schools’ accounts come in from foreign sources – which I am sure federal government if addressed properly, will be on the same page with ASUU

However, ASUU has in many interview sessions with journalists admitted that the TSA policy had checked a lot of excesses in the system of running offices nationwide should be sustained, giving reference to many incidences that different institutions have been found to own more than 25 bank accounts, some of which are not even known to their Chief Executive Officers – a development it termed ‘corruption’ – is ASUU now all set to build up a new room for corruption in universities again?

Why would ASUU be accusing the government of not giving education the attention it deserved, and the best they can do is to force children to stay out of campuses, halting their studies and diminishing the image of their future…and they think this is the right war they will come out for, embarking on 8 months strike – they must not be doing this for students’ right?

It is unfortunate to see you rising voice against Alhaji Ahmad Idris, the Accountant-General of the Federation, when many of you have gotten an appointment with Universities through his good passion to assist Nigerian citizens – which if you haven’t, one of your relatives must-have.

He is always up and doing to implement President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of creating job opportunities and slots for youths and graduates – the same youths and undergraduates you have forced to stay home…that’s your contribution.

Gezawa, a local government area of Kano state is the hometown of the AGF and it will surprise many Nigerians that your investigation could not trace the history of Ahmad Idris’ parents with regards to business and investments – it is clearly understood that you are pointing at him with accusing fingers out of envy, which is not expected of you, academicians.

Your words of defaming the character of AGF is been categorized into two, first, you are happy with the current situation you have all put students in and want to continue, the second is that you don’t mean good for the future of Nigeria and it’s citizens, students especially. It is better to erect a structure for the business and employ thousands than to put on halt the studies youths…subjecting their lives in danger and ill-thoughts.

Accusing Accountant-General of the Federation and Minister of Labour and Employment of “throwing spanners in the wheel of progress of the concerted efforts” the efforts you claimed to have been making to resolve the misunderstanding between the two parties amicably is not reflected in your actions – because it is said that an iron on its own cannot make a sound… You can’t always be on the right track.

I urge you ASUU to sit down again and come up with something agreeable for the citizens, not libellous or slanderous – that’s a work for one don’t have a knowledge of black and white. Believe me, you’re becoming annoying jokers in this country.

Muhammad Bashir writes from Kano and can be reached on 08062958059

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