It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari’s abrupt order to Education Minister Adamu Adamu to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, strike within two weeks was nothing more than a delay tactic.
On July 19, 2022, a Tuesday, the president issued the demand. On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, it came to an end. There was no observable evidence that meaningful communication with ASUU and other university worker unions that were on strike occurred during that time. If they did, the Minister has not yet updated the country on the events that took place and the progress that was made.
We instead witnessed Adamu’s somewhat naive attempt to place the blame for his failure to manage this problem in his Ministry on Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment. Adamu claimed he delegated the negotiations to Ngige since the latter argued that the Labour Minister must serve as the negotiator under the ILO statute.
The president explicitly placed Adamu in charge of the situation by issuing an ultimatum. Being removed from the picture made Ngige happy. Because of Ngige’s involvement in the strike’s first five months, Adamu had refrained from using his magic wand. Now the way was clear. Not even a whimper, much less a bang, was heard when it finally came out. ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke announced a further four-week extension of the strike on Monday, August 1, 2022, after observing that the presidential ultimatum had not been followed through with.
What is going on between Buhari and Adamu has Nigerians wondering. Why does Buhari continue to give Adamu a crucial portfolio like education when it is obvious that he has continually performed poorly? Under his leadership, the number of children not in school more than doubled, from 10.5 million to over 18 million now. Children that are not attending school are most prevalent in Nigeria.
An education “state of emergency” would be declared by the federal government in April 2018, according to this minister. Nothing of the type transpired over the course of that date. Adamu would have worked in the position for eight years if he continues in it until the May 2023 end of the Buhari administration. He would have served as minister of education the longest. What possible defense could he offer for his improbable length of tenure in that position, other perhaps his lauded romantic connection to President Buhari?
Failure in other regions and under normal conditions is promptly followed by termination or even resignation. But since Buhari took office, failure has frequently been met with support. This regime is incapable of experiencing failure-related embarrassment. Executive orders are meaningless.
To allow our kids to go back to school, we continue to demand that the president reach a settlement with ASUU. He was chosen to do that particular job. He has to break this deadlock.