The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has criticised the Federal Government over the naira and fuel scarcity that has bedevilled the country in the final months of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
The naira swap policy sought to replace the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes with redesigned ones ahead of the February 25 and March 11 elections, while the months-long fuel scarcity has been blamed on cross-border smuggling.
The ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, in a statement on Thursday, said the governments at the federal, state and council levels appear enamoured of policies which aggravate the suffering of the mass of Nigerians.
He added that the Supreme Court ruling suspending the February 10 deadline on the naira design policy should somewhat mitigate the suffering of Nigerians occasioned by what he described as “yet another anti-poor policy.”
According to Osodeke, the “ambush tactic” of CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to “eliminate cash” was applied in India in 2016 with unsalutary consequences.
“So, ASUU commends the Supreme court for siding with the suffering Nigerians whose miserable lives would have been compounded by Emefiele’s policy if they are not sent to their early graves by it.”
The ASUU president added that it is unimaginable that a transiting government would elect to “swim in an ocean of chaos” as exemplified by the currency swap crisis and scarcity of petroleum products on the eve of an election season.
“Let’s work with patriotic Nigerians in labour and civil society to resist anti-people policies and mitigate the people’s suffering.
“On our part, ASUU shall work closely with the new leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other patriotic Nigerians to protect and further the interests and well-being of all Nigerians at all times,” he said.
See the full statement below:
ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU)
Comrade Festus Iyayi Complex
University of Abuja, Main Campus, Giri, Abuja
9th February 2023
MITIGATING THE SUFFERING OF NIGERIANS
1. To say Nigerians are gasping for breath under the suffocating atmosphere created by the ruling class is to state the obvious. Governments at the federal, state and council levels appear enamoured of policies which aggravate the suffering of the mass of Nigerians. Our union, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has had cause to condemn the anti-poor policies of governments in the education sector. While the ruling class virulently attacked ASUU for insisting on government’s adequate funding of universities and paying a morale-enhancing remuneration for Nigerian academics, the children of the poor now know better, going by a gale of anti-fees’ protests resonating across the campuses. Word on the street is that triggers for the new wave of brain drain, called the Japa syndrome, are not unconnected with the debilitating working and dwelling environment. Added to this are the scornful treatments given to academic and medical personnel who other nations handle as treasures of inestimable value, and aversion for collective bargaining evident in anti-labour policies such as “no work, no pay” and “divide-and-rule”.
2. Expectedly, the Supreme Court ruling which halted the 10th February, 2023 deadline on the Naira design policy should somewhat mitigate the aggravated suffering of Nigerians occasioned by yet another anti-poor policy. The crisis arising from the redesign of the country’s currency reverberated in every sector of the economy and it will require very serious efforts by developmental economists to fully determine the magnitude of its damage. The ambush tactic of Godwin Emefiele to “eliminate cash” was applied in India in 2016 with unsalutary consequences. So, ASUU commends the Supreme court for siding with the suffering Nigerians whose miserable lives would have been compounded by Emefiele’s policy if they are not sent to their early graves by it.
3. In the same way government’s explanation on non-circulation of the redesigned currency is meaningless, no attempt to rationalize non-accessibility of petroleum products is tenable. This outgoing government raised Nigerians’ hope of fixing the country’s refineries when it was coming to power in 2015. Eight years down the line, it has been giving one excuse after another; allowing a free rein to the oil subsidy scammers! Nigerians know the truth; they know the local refineries can work if the core leadership of the ruling class is willing to commit class suicide. But it’s a poisonous tablet none is willing to swallow!
4. As Nigerians continue to lick the socio-economic injuries inflicted on them by unpatriotic, selfish and rent-seeking politicians, the more the country sinks deeper and deeper into the abys of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, preventable diseases and death, insecurity, ignorance and misery. Today, there is nothing new to calling Nigeria the poverty capital of the world or the country with the highest population of global out-of-school children. In the face of the life-threatening stagflation, the political class carries on as if nothing is amiss. So, rather than abating, the cankerworm of corruption is gaining deeper roots each day among those Nigerians entrusted with their collective patrimony.
5. Only a few beneficiaries can openly identify with the policies and programmes of Nigerian governments be they at the federal, state or council level. For a vast majority of workers, peasants and the unemployed, it has been a long tale of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. We in ASUU are saying it is not in the interest of the political class that the suffering is further aggravated in any manner whatsoever. Indeed, it is in the interest of the ruling class to rise to the challenge of guaranteeing the “security and welfare” of the people – the primary purpose of every government. Political appointees, at whatever level, were elected or selected to serve the people and not the other way round. The ominous cloud hanging on the horizon comes with frightening foreboding for a fragile country if urgent steps are not taken to suture the bleeding wound of the land.
6. Lastly, it is unimaginable that a transiting government would elect to swim in an ocean of chaos as exemplified by the currency swap crisis and scarcity of petroleum products on the eve of an election season. We do not subscribe to the speculation about some fifth columnists who were out to truncate the transition. However, ASUU calls on Nigerians irrespective of tongue, tribe or religion to stand for deepening and defending democracy. Let’s work with patriotic Nigerians in labour and civil society to resist anti-people policies and mitigate the people’s suffering. On our part, ASUU shall work closely with the new leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other patriotic Nigerians to protect and further the interests and well-being of all Nigerians at all time.
7. The struggle continues!