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Consensus Vs Open Contest In APC

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Issues For APC 2023 Presidential Campaign

By

Salihu Moh. Lukman

 

Electing Party Leaders through Consensus

Since the commencement of negotiation for new leadership in APC, starting with Ward Congresses, the decision of the APC CECPC is that new leaders will be elected through consensus. This implies that stakeholders will reach an agreement on specific individuals who will emerge as party leaders. So far, the process has achieved some degree of success as the new leaders of the party from wards to local governments and states have emerged through consensus. There were instances of disagreements, which the party’s reconciliation committee under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu has succeeded in resolving many of the cases.

With the National Convention scheduled to hold March 26, 2022, the process of achieving consensus is similarly expected to produce new national leaders. Already, following meetings of the CECPC, Progressive Governors and other party leaders with President Buhari, some initiatives aimed at achieving consensus leading to the emergence of new national leaders have commenced. A zoning formula has been reported to be agreed and the president is reported to have expressed his support for the emergence of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman of the party around whom the negotiation to achieve consensus for other positions is expected to be achieved. Progressive Governors were reported to have been mandated by the president to work with the CECPC and achieve agreed consensus on all party positions.

Party Activities and Attempts to Undermine Consensus

Incidences within the last few days appear to be almost questioning whether any negotiation is taking place within the party to achieve consensus. From uncertainty about whether the party’s National Convention will hold, circumstances have been created whereby directives of President Buhari, who is unquestionably the leader of the party, to negotiate consensus leading the emergence of new leaders seem to be discarded. Conflicting directives to party leaders allegedly from the president are allowed to appear in the public. Every time a new directive appears, party leaders and members complied, and new realities also emerge in the party.

For instance, when on Sunday, March 6, 2022, on the day President Buhari went to London, the information emerged that President Buhari instructed Progressive Governors to initiate processes of leadership change in the party given the reluctance of His Excellency Mai Mala, the APC CECPC Chairman to implement decisions to hold the party’s National Convention, party leaders and members welcomed the decision, which accounts for the legitimacy enjoyed by all the eleven members of the CECPC who immediately rallied themselves around His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello who was vested with the responsibility of acting as APC CECPC Chairman in the absence of His Excellency Mai Mala who was out of the country for medical treatment.

Immediately, activities of the party around preparations for the March 26, 2022 National Convention were strengthened. The CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello began meetings almost on a daily basis. Decisions taken were implemented immediately and communication with party members and the public regarding preparations for the National Convention was very regular, unlike under the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala. Newly elected state leaderships of the party were inaugurated, an action which should have been carried out long ago but deliberately stalled as part of the plans to sabotage the National Convention. With the inauguration of state leaderships of the party, the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) was scheduled for Thursday, March 17, 2022. The scheduled NEC meeting was also designed to begin to return the APC back to normal operations as provided by the party’s Constitution.

READ ALSO: Fresh Crisis In APC As INEC Fails To Recognise Bello As Interim Chair

The NEC being the second highest organ of the party has the powers to take decisions, which should guide party operations in between National Conventions. Under the APC constitution, the NEC is required to meet every three months. The last time the NEC met was December 8, 2020, when in view of the challenges facing the party, and trusting that the leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala will faithfully and honestly implement decisions taken leading to the emergence of new leaders, transferred its powers to the CECPC. As of December 8, 2020, the expectation was that the tenure of the CECPC would not go beyond six months, implying that by June 2021, the APC National Convention would have taken place and new party leaders would have emerged. Sadly, His Excellency Mai Mala began endless postponement of the National Convention, and it became clear to everyone, including President Buhari that the CECPC leadership of His Excellency Mai Mala has abused all the trust of party leaders and members, with allegations of corruption against the Chairman and Secretary, His Excellency Mai Mala and Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe respectively.

Changes in CECPC and Syndicated Media Campaigns

With the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting CECPC Chairman on March 7, 2022, and all the actions taken to implement decisions leading to the convention, confidence of party members and leaders began to be restored. Some few party leaders who collaborated with His Excellency Mai Mala to sabotage the decision to organise the National Convention, however, began media campaigns aimed at undermining the legitimacy of actions taken by the CECPC under His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Mostly done through surrogates, the campaigns include planting syndicated report of a coup against His Excellency Mai Mala, leading to the emergence of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello as Acting Chairman of the CECPC.

The CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduodehe, on Monday, March 7, 2022, walked out of the meeting of the CECPC chaired by His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello. Then news of his resignation and subsequent rebuttal by him emerged. As it turned out, the CECPC actually passed a vote of no confidence in the Secretary in line with the provision of Article 21(vi) of the APC, which affirms the power of organs of the party to take such actions based on two-third votes by members of the organ. The resolution for vote of no confidence against Sen. Akpanuduodehe was passed by ten out of thirteen members of the CECPC. Thereafter, the CECPC announced that Prof. Tahir Mamman is the Acting Secretary and Barr. Ismail Ahmed is the spokesperson. Throughout the week of March 7 – 14, Sen. Akpanudoedehe was conspicuously absent from the APC National Secretariat and didn’t attend meetings of the CECPC, although on Friday, March 11, 2022, he was reported to have visited the APC National Secretariat but did not attend the CEPCP meeting, which was ongoing at the time of his visit.

READ ALSO: Rescuing The APC: A Task For All Party Leaders

As part of the syndicated news reports aimed at undermining decisions and actions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello, there was the false report that thirteen APC governors were threatening to leave the party if the decision to change His Excellency Mai Mala as Chairman of CECPC is achieved. Some party leaders, including Governors Nasir El-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu SAN of Kaduna and Ondo States respectively responded with the information that only three governors, not thirteen, are supportive of His Excellency Mai Mala. The three Governors are Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Hope Uzodinma of Imo and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun States. The remaining eighteen governors and the deputy governor of Anambra State are supportive of initiatives being taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello.

Conflicting Presidential Directives and London Lobbies by Party Leaders

Around the same period, during the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were reports about President Buhari returning His Excellency Mai Mala as the Chairman of the CECPC. Then on Sunday, March 13, there was the statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special to the President on Media and Publicity, informing APC leaders about President Buhari’s warning drawing attention to the electoral consequences of the open leadership contestation in the party and calling for order. By Monday, March 14, the report was that party leaders including His Excellency Mai Mala, His Excellency Kayode Fayemi and His Excellency Nasir El-Rufai have travelled to London to meet with President Buhari. No details of the meetings emerged. The feeler, however, was that President Buhari met Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai and endorsed preparations for the March 26 National Convention initiated by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Abubakar Sani Bello and accordingly confirmed that he would be attending the scheduled March 17 NEC meeting of the party.

Before the weekend of March 11 – 13, there were media reports about some party leaders, including Sen. Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education and Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, meeting the President in London. This report of the visit by Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was remotely associated with all the lobby to influence decisions of the president regarding the need to achieve consensus leading to the emergence of new leadership for the APC. Interestingly, the presence of these longtime political associates of President Buhari in London may have been responsible for many of the reversals of decisions taken by President Buhari regarding the party’s leadership contestation.

READ ALSO: APC And Surrogate Politics Of Timid Leaders

The four leaders – Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu were political associates of President Buhari since 2003 when he first contested for President under the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP). Part of what has emerged suggests that their mission to London was to get President Buhari to alter the decisions reached with Progressive Governors and other party leaders on zoning party positions. Particularly, they wanted the president to unilaterally change the decision to get the deputy national chairman, North, moved from North-East to North-West so that Hon. Aliyu can become the president’s anointed candidate. Recall that there was a discredited zoning list purportedly signed by the president, dated February 25, 2022 with Hon. Aliyu, who is from North-West as the agreed candidate for deputy national chairman, North, instead of allowing it for the emergence of someone from the North-East as agreed. In that discredited zoning list, the position of National Secretary was given to South-East and not South-West as was later announced by the CECPC.

Consequently, by the evening of Wednesday, March 16, 2022, news about the president reversing his earlier directive to Progressive Governors and party leaders to the effect of changing the leadership of the CECPC emerged. Conveyed in a letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Chairman Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ on the leadership of the CEPCP, with photo images of President Buhari together with His Excellency Mai Mala in the company of Mallam Adamu, the President effectively reversed his earlier instructions. By the morning of Thursday, March 17, 2022, Sen. Akpanuduedehe announced the cancellation of the scheduled March 17 NEC and attempted to alter the composition of Convention Committees announced by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello. Members of the CECPC had to immediately enforce the vote of no confidence in Sen. Akpanuduodehe to stop further attempts to reverse decisions taken on the March 26 National Convention. His Excellency Mai Mala who returned to the country on Thursday, March 17 had to issue a statement affirming the sanctity of all decisions taken by the CECPC under the leadership of His Excellency Sani Bello.

Return of Old Attempts to impose Party Leaders and Candidates

Part of the sentiment being used by the London lobby team of Sen. Sirika, Mallam Malami, Mallam Adamu and Hon. Aliyu was to ensure that the old Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) leaders are not ‘marginalised’ in the new APC leadership to emerge from the March 26 National Convention. These are old opportunistic arguments, which were self-serving used by some few vested interests around the president to impose themselves as party leaders and candidates. There were many instances leading to the imposition of candidates during elections, which undermined the electoral viabilities of parties associated with the president. From the ANPP in 2003 and 2007 to CPC in 2011, this has been the reality. Often, individual politicians with this self-serving agenda have used it to impose themselves on party members as candidates for elections. Although there are many instances whereby imposed candidates win elections, there are also many instances when acts of imposition destroyed the electoral advantages of the parties leading to the loss of elections. This was partly the reason for the large-scale defeat of CPC in 2011 election in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina and many states.

Perhaps, it needs to be highlighted that while the team of ‘CPC London lobbyists’ used the CPC sentiment to push for the anointment of Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North, they were not interested in the reversal of the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu as the president’s choice for the National Chairman in favour of Sen. Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who is by far the most qualified former CPC leader aspiring for the position of National Chairman. Noting that Sen. Adamu was never a member of CPC, unlike Sen. Al-Makura who was the only elected CPC governor in the country between 2011 and 2013 when CPC was dissolved into the current APC, why shouldn’t any CPC lobbyist prioritise the case of National chairman over and above a deputy National Chairman? This partly highlights the limitations of all the scheming influencing many of the president’s decisions to reverse decisions he took around all the leadership contestation in the party. Why should the president endorse Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura as the National Chairman of the APC? Didn’t Sen. Al-Makura defeat Sen. Adamu, which made the CPC to have the only State, Nasarawa, it won in 2011?

Sen. Al-Makura has led the APC to victory in all elections in Nasarawa State since 2015. In fact, it could be argued without any fear of contradiction that Sen. Adamu was compelled to leave the PDP because of the domineering electoral influence of the APC in Nasarawa State under the leadership of Sen. Al-Makura. Every rational consideration would expect President Buhari to choose Sen. Al-Makura ahead of Sen. Adamu. But the same old irrational and illogical decisions leading to the imposition of candidates in ANPP and CPC have found their way to APC and may have influenced President Buhari’s decision for Sen. Adamu over Sen. Al-Makura. These irrational and illogical decisions are driven by people who are opposed to political contests because they must impose themselves at all costs using their close relationship with President Buhari. Largely because they hardly have much electoral significance, meaning that on their own they can hardly win elections, instead, they just want to ride on decisions of the president to anoint them as candidates based on which they may succeed in bulldozing their way to emerge as elected leaders and candidates.

Partly because the so-called CPC lobby around President Buhari wasn’t about getting trustworthy people to emerge as APC leaders during the March 26 National Convention, the objective may have been to bring in people who can do the hatched jobs of imposing some so-called CPC old leaders as candidates for 2023 elections. Noting that, for instance, both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are aspiring to emerge as APC governorship candidates for Kebbi and Katsina States respectively, this may be the major consideration for the lobby around Hon. Aliyu to become the deputy national chairman, North. Also noting that both Mallam Malami and Sen. Sirika are facing strong opposition within the party in their respective states, Kebbi and Katsina, the suspicion that they want Hon. Aliyu as deputy national chairman, North so that he can do the hatched job of producing them as candidates by whatever means cannot be dismissed.

Recall that Hon. Aliyu was alleged to be at the centre of most of the allegations of corruption against the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during the 2019 elections, the probability that he will collaborate with aspirants for elective positions to impose candidates cannot also be wished away. There were specific allegations against Hon. Aliyu of extorting huge amounts of money as Chief of Staff to Comrade Oshiomhole from some aspirants for the 2019 elections. Part of the information was that Hon. Aliyu parted ways with Comrade Oshiomhole on account of these allegations. Although these are allegations, however, to the extent that Hon. Aliyu is yet to put up any public defence to clear himself should discourage anyone from promoting him for any party leadership position in the APC.

Unilateral Reversal of Decisions Creates Open Contest

By some default, therefore, while desperately pushing the President to anoint people like Hon. Aliyu as consensus candidates, these ‘CPC lobbyists’ have inadvertently created situations whereby there is the strong likelihood for an open contest in APC during the March 26 National Convention. Instead of working to support the president to win the cooperation of all party leaders, including the speculated choice of Sen. Adamu as the consensus National Chairman, an unregulated situation has emerged ahead of the APC March 26, 2022 National Convention whereby everybody is free to join the contest for the position of National Chairman. One of the mistakes of the so-called old CPC members, including the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, is to elevate the respect of party leaders for the president to the level of compelling obedience without recognising that it is a mutually reciprocal respect. Unlike what obtained under the CPC, whereby President Buhari was largely the singular electoral asset of the party, in the case of the APC, President Buhari, although the dominant electoral asset, other party leaders are also electoral assets in varying degrees, which was the added factor responsible for the electoral victory of 2015 and 2019.

READ ALSO: Political Leadership Recruitment: Appeal To APC Leaders

Once President Buhari is made to unilaterally change party decisions, and to that extent therefore create unregulated conditions for leadership contest, he is made to effectively undermine the respect he enjoys among APC leaders. Beyond creating an unregulated situation, an unhealthy condition has also been created whereby the president being a moral leader is being projected to be directing party leaders based on his presidential powers. With or without presidential powers, President Buhari has earned his position as the leader of APC. His unique personality as someone who is truly loved by very ordinary citizens remarkably earned the APC its electoral victory of 2015 and 2019. Party leaders and members will always respect instructions coming from President Buhari. Therefore, party leaders and members, by extension all supporters of President Buhari must appeal to so-called ‘CPC lobbyists’ to stop undermining the president’s authority through the attempt to impose party leaders and candidates for election.

Expanded Democratic Space in APC

The good thing, however, arising from the actions of the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ by getting the president to issue conflicting directives to Progressive Governors and party leaders, thereby disrupting negotiations for the emergence of consensus leaders is that it has in some ways mobilised internal rebellion within the APC, which will lead to open contests for all positions in the party in the March 26, 2022 National Convention. Given open contests, it is doubtful if any attempt by the president to influence the emergence of any leader, including the speculated anointment of Sen. Adamu for the position of the National Chairman can succeed. Thanks to the ‘CPC London lobbyists’, the democratic space in APC has been expanded beyond what it would ordinarily have been. For the first time, since 1999, internal party contest in a major Nigerian political party, APC, which is also the governing party, will most likely experience full- blown contests for all leadership positions whereby winners may emerge irrespective of speculated choices of the president, and by extension, possibly all other party leaders.

Unintended, the ‘CPC London lobbyists’ have also helped to inadvertently expand the democratic space for internal party contest for the emergence of candidates for 2023 elections. In other words, by their actions, they have weakened the high possibility that the party’s candidates for 2023 elections will emerge through consensus. This new reality is very much needed to challenge Nigerian political parties to comply with basic democratic tenets of free and fair internal contests for the emergence of party leaders and candidates for elections. This is perhaps very much needed to return the APC to its founding vision such that it can recover all its electoral advantages.

Acknowledgement and Appeal

The unfolding dynamics in APC, which by some default is expanding the democratic space within the party is made possible due to the liberal leadership of the president. Associates of the president should also respect the decisions the president takes jointly with other party leaders instead of undermining his liberal disposition by seeking to get him to reverse decisions he jointly takes with other party leaders. It was the liberal disposition of the president that allows him to respect positions of party leaders, based on which he subscribes to decisions and delegate implementation to competent structures of the party. If the president can respect other party leaders, why should other associates of the president exude any form of disrespect or contempt for other party leaders in whatever way?

Accordingly, APC leaders and members should appeal to both President Buhari and his old political associates in the old CPC to refrain from acts that will undermine the authority of the president as the leader of the party. The president needs to recognise that being the leader of the party, imposes on him some level of propriety, which requires that once decisions are taken through meetings, it will require at least another meeting to change decisions taken. In every respect, the decisions of the president as conveyed in the letter to His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, PGF Chairman of March 16, 2022 directing a ‘return to status quo ante’ could have been achieved from the London meeting with Governors Fayemi and El-Rufai. The letter to the PGF Chairman was avoidable and unnecessary.

So-called old CPC leaders should stop projecting the president as a leader of only a section of party members. The piresident is the leader of all members of the APC and all Nigerians. Some of the so-called old CPC members, should also be reminded that, in their own rights, they have what it takes to successfully negotiate their emergence as leaders and candidates of the party without resorting to the undemocratic practices of imposition. Many of them are highly respected leaders of the APC and therefore, given free and fair environment for electoral contests within the APC, they can win elections to emerge as party leaders and candidates for elective offices. APC leaders and members should therefore appeal to these old CPC leaders to properly integrate themselves in the structures of the APC and develop the needed confidence to freely negotiate for leadership positions in the party based on the ability to mobilise support to win majority votes. May Allah (SWT) bless the new democratic space in APC and support the emergence of new APC leaders based on majority votes at the March 26 APC National Convention. Amin!

Dr. Lukman is a freelance APC campaigner. smlukman@gmail.com

 

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Opinion

Death, Drugs, And Dirges

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20 Years Of African University College Of Communications (AUCC): Looking Back On The Achievements And Looking Forward To Innovative Upgrades
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

The chicken perches on the rope
The rope is restless,
The chicken is off-balance

Should we wear black clothes, take our lamps, and walk barefoot singing the dirges of the bereaved yet? Should we sing those dirges with the finality of nothingness? Or is there still a pulse our two fingers cannot make sense of? Should we speak of death, dying, or many things far from being alive? Not of humans but of the Nigerian educational system, whose viability and health are deplorable and, specifically, of the university system that causes students, the academia, the nation, and its citizens to dilly-dally. Should we sing dirges to the different excruciating deaths destroying education and the nation beyond repair?

 READ ALSO: 20 Years Of African University College Of Communications (AUCC): Looking Back On The Achievements And Looking Forward To Innovative Upgrades

On February 14, 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared a strike by its members, causing universities to close their gates to students for the past seven months, with no hope of resumption. The ongoing industrial action is one of the many that the university system has witnessed, crippling several processes and putting many Nigerians in confusion. ASUU has embarked on strike at least 16 times since 1999 and for more than 1500 days cumulatively; this is outside of the local and internal strike actions on local issues embarked on by individual Unions in some of the universities. The longest ASUU strike was the 270 days of total shutdown of Nigerian public universities in 2020, and the present one is about to overtake it if there is no favourable development and intervention.

Aside from the ASUU strike, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and other Unions under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) also consider strike actions as the only language the government listens to. After two months after the NASU and SSANU strike was called off, the Union members claimed that their salaries had not been paid since then. With the continuous and constant strike actions by the staff of the university system, large underfunding, and lack of average facilities for convenient and purposeful learning, it is understandable if one is confused as to whether to pronounce the system dead or dying. However, it appears to be far from being convincingly alive, and if there is any hope of revival, there must be a strategy to end it.

ASUU has been in constant demand for the revitalization of the University system through the injection of ₦1.1 Trillion by the Federal Government. The purpose of this, which is reasonable enough, is to raise the standard of Nigerian tertiary education and bring the various institutions close to the level of their counterparts across the globe. We can even forget that ASUU cannot monitor campus fraud, and some of this money will be stolen. Alongside this are agitations for the payment of earned academic allowances and the discharge of other commitments by the Nigerian government.

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Currently, the Nigerian government spends between five and seven per cent of its total budget on education, against the recommended 27 per cent by the United Nations. In a nation like Nigeria that needs considerable investment in both human resources and factors that guarantee a favourable future for the nation, education is an investment that cannot be excused. However, education cannot fully displace other needs like the lack of power, bad roads, and insecurity, so we have to cry out for other priority needs. University professors are not the only ones suffering from the consequences of a mismanaged state; they just happen to be the most combative.

These problems and other issues faced by the Nigerian university system, including social factors that have placed the institutions under lock and key for a long time, make one doubt how to describe the state of the university system. I do not intend to address whom to blame in the feud between the academic staff and the government, but the provocation and damning damage to the nation’s state, the citizens, and students. On this issue, the system and the institutions are not the only ones affected, as the nation records more body count and an increase in social vices, as well as the systematic soaring of the number of miscreants traceable to unengaged students over a long period. For emphasis, a study by Andreu Arenas and Lucas Gortazar shows that students who are victims of school closure are more likely to experience learning loss, and according to Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, there will be a possible reduction in their future incomes. It has also been proven that students coming from prolonged school closures have a higher risk of failing future tests and examinations. This is because the heavy distractions from learning affect their psychology and their orientation towards learning.

Whereas one could hold a strong ground as to the existence of certain activities of the academia or institutional operations, it cannot be denied that the rising brain drain at the university level due to this brouhaha is causing intellectual death and sickness in the university sector. If we do not know whom to sing our dirges to, we should prepare ourselves for this increasing intellectual death.

Unfortunately, as the system dies, those within it are dying too. On July 8, 2022, the Ambrose Alli University chapter of the ASUU claimed that the university had lost ten lecturers that month, five months into the strike.

Also, on September 26, 2022, it was reported that 21 lecturers, including professors, and other non-academic staff of the University of Calabar, lost their lives. Many still alive have resorted to other ways of surviving, selling belongings and petty trading. On September 13, 2022, it was reported that a University of Maiduguri lecturer, Dr. Othman Abubakar, from the Department of English, decided to sell his library at any price. Abubakar was convinced that nothing was left in academia after the gradual “destruction of the university system” and the “insensitive” starvation of lecturers. Abubakar’s statements made me cringe, and to make it worse, some individuals have started calling for aid for lecturers like they were some castaways. It should also not be forgotten that the government implemented a “no work, no pay policy” for striking lecturers to make them give in to pressure. Starvation has become a wicked weapon to test the integrity of the intellectuals; even in war, starvation is not a noble strategy. So, I sing a dirge to the lost souls and the purpose of the Nigerian intellectuals.

I sing yet another dirge to the simultaneous effects of this strike on the university students who have become the primary victims. While intellectual death among the lecturers is overwhelming, the students also lose their lives. On March 8, 2022, it was reported that Henry Ehis, a 300-level student of the University of Jos, committed suicide due to frustration from the unending strike. Rachael Opadele, a final year student of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, took a part-time job in a hotel because of the strike, was kidnapped in the same hotel, and killed afterwards in August 2022. Many other students have been killed by unfortunate events that would have been prevented if they had been in school.

Another dirge is to the death of the minds of the Nigerian students caused by increasing drug abuse made worse by these strikes. Logically, thousands of students who have been denied access to education, which formed their primary source of engagement, would be vulnerable to acts like drug abuse. In other words, there is often a considerable risk of drug abuse among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and the disengagement from academic activities exposes them to even greater risk. Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State Governor, on May 13, 2022, lamented the increasing rate of drug consumption in the state after ASUU embarked on strike, noting that drug abuse has become the second problem of the Edo State government. Likewise, in June 2022, Senator Douye Diri, the Bayelsa State governor, confirmed that increased drug abuse amounted to increased criminal activities in the state.

On August 19, 2021, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) revealed that about 40 per cent of the Nigerian youth, which forms the majority of the university students, are “deeply involved in drug abuse.” Also, on February 22, 2021, the NDLEA, through its Chairman, Buba Marwa, stated that drug abuse accounts for and influences about 90 per cent of crimes in Nigeria. Since the majority of students in the university are youths, there is a tendency for drug abuse among them. The psychological and physical effects of drug abuse are dangers the nation cannot afford. It is a pronouncement of an end to the academic endeavour of individuals, either directly or indirectly.

Moreover, there is a strong and direct link between drug abuse and criminal tendencies. Given the above positions and facts, it is only logical to be concerned about the consequences of students’ disengagement and idleness due to ongoing strike actions. And though different universities in the country have developed anti-drug abuse schemes to put drug abuse in check; however, closing these schools makes the programs inefficient.

Then I sing a dirge to the death of ambition and purposes in the frustrating waits of the Nigerian students. Many students get their purposes and ambitions crippled by life-changing incidents during the schools’ shutdown. Equally, the prolonged and delayed educational period caused by unpredictable ASUU strikes reduces the employability rate and loss of certain opportunities, killing dreams and purposes, particularly because the delay causes many students to graduate above the entry age of many employment requirements.

I sing this dirge to Nigeria’s dying future, which the government is ignorantly killing. Education is the hope of a progressive future for any nation, and research is the tool it uses to chart its successes. The intellectual capacity of a nation is a projection of how far it will grow in the future and its position in global discussions. Innovations and developmental discoveries are the results of dedicated research and efforts. A war or affront against the intellectual bloc of the nation is a risk of a negative expectation for the nation’s future. Human resources development is pivotal to any nation that wishes to develop, but with the above incidences, one would doubt if Nigeria considers development important.

Where there is value, there is respect and care, and it seems the value given to education by the nation reflects in the management of the industrial crisis in academia. Where workers at factories strike, the company is forced to react, as it stands to lose products and profits within the period. In this instance, the products are of value, and for their sake, the company finds a solution to the problem within a limited time. Taking the company as Nigeria, the workers as the lecturers, and the students as the products, it seems that the nation does not value the students enough to be motivated to a quick resolution with the academia.

I sing a dirge to the death of a nation, its intellectuals, and the pillars of its future, the students.

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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20 Years Of African University College Of Communications (AUCC): Looking Back On The Achievements And Looking Forward To Innovative Upgrades

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20 Years Of African University College Of Communications (AUCC): Looking Back On The Achievements And Looking Forward To Innovative Upgrades

By Toyin Falola
Some qualities are common to all visionaries: innovation, strategic planning, and giving back to society. Based on these qualities, one can rightly say that Honourable Kojo Acquah Yankah is a visionary par excellence. Honourable Yankah, who at a time served the citizens of Ghana at the Parliament, has his roots in journalism and communications right from his days as the Editor of the Daily Graphic to his role as the Director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. These two roles are not unconnected from his eventual founding of the African University College of Communications (AUCC).

Innovation can take varied forms, either as a viable product morphed from a novel idea or an improvement on existing models or products. Thus, establishing the AUCC was a strategic and innovative move from Honourable Yankah. His was an innovation with a mission to improve how journalists and communications specialists are trained in Ghana—having overseen the affairs of the Ghana Institute of Journalism for close to a decade, who better to found an innovative school of journalism than the visionary? And so goes the story of the founding of Ghana’s first private institute of journalism and communications, the African University College of Communications.

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As earlier stated, Honourable Yankah founded this school to improve on what existed, and this is better expressed in the school’s mission, which is student-focused: “The African University College of Communications aims to prepare lifelong learners to become innovative problem-solvers and ethical leaders through excellence in inter-disciplinary teaching, research, and collaboration, using a Pan-African network.” Innovation and work ethics are two qualities that every journalist must possess and hold dear. Yet, there is no gainsaying that there are several journalists who either do not know or know but have chosen not to live by and operate within the provisions of the profession’s ethics.

Such outrageous instances as journalists receiving bribes, false reports, plagiarism, failure to give due credit, and toxic workplace culture, among other issues, have built their nests on the branches of the noble journalism profession. Aside from a lack of respect or adherence to the profession’s ethics, the continent is also breeding journalists who lack an innovative and creative spirit, journalists who cannot think on the spot, improvise, or explore several perspectives on issues. This may be due in part to the limited barriers to entry into the journalism profession, such that a formal education in journalism is not a prerequisite for a journalism-based job. These issues are what the AUCC seeks to address.

Another thing that would immediately catch one’s attention, especially if one is pro-African, is how the AUCC’s mission revolves around Pan-Africanism. Honourable Yankah embodies Pan-Africanism; he is one of the most passionate Pan-Africanists of our time. This is true because he has dedicated his time, resources, and envisioned institutions to the Pan-Africanist belief, movement, and existence. One such institution is the Pan African Heritage Museum, through which he tells the African story and displays African histories the African way. In a world where everyone seems to be strategically positioning themselves for the attention, recognition, and awards that the Western world has in abundance — sometimes losing their identity and connectedness to their roots in the process — it is important to groom journalists who will key into the vision of Pan-Africanism and deploy the available tools and resources in journalism for the promotion of African cultures, heritages, and people, and the AUCC has successfully ticked these marks. The AUCC is the quintessential African-themed higher institution of learning. Everything about the College, including how students are trained, the research focus, the College’s colours and logo, vision, and values, all project Pan-Africanism.

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One of the things I cultivated the habit of doing from early on in life and which has immensely shaped me as a historian is the capacity to reminisce about visualizing. Reminiscing to visualize means looking back and doing retrospection and introspection to prepare for what is to come and shape how one wants the future. As the African University College of Communications marks 20 years of existence, there will be several plans on the part of the management and administration to plan for the future as the journey of another milestone has started. However, the historian in me will look back to look forward. In the 20 years it has existed, how has the College committed to its mission and vision? The successes and achievements of the AUCC these past 20 years have been in leaps and bounds. The College has grown from an institute of journalism into a new-age university with advanced programs in journalism, communications, business administration, and business information and communication technology. Professor Abeku Blankson, the College’s President, and the university’s administration have steered the ship to wondrous sails, facilitating strategic collaborations and sending well-trained journalists, business analysts, and communication specialists to the African industries.

Aside from the strategic collaboration and networking through which the institution has earned beneficial opportunities, several centres and institutes are also set up to benefit students, Ghana as a nation, and Africa as a continent. These institutes include the Kwabena Nketia Centre for Africana Studies, the African University College of Communications Pensions Academy, the Executive Education Center, and the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing. What started with 60 students as a private institute of journalism poised to improve journalism training has become a world-class and award-winning higher institution of learning that has produced thousands of students.

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In addition, the AUCC keeps a strong database of its alumni body, with a job board designed to help place its graduates in suitable roles of their choice. This innovative move is often absent in several higher institutions on the continent. Having a job board and support system for graduates means that when they find their footing and become leaders of industries, giving back to the institution that shaped them will be a priority. In adopting this move, the AUCC is like a world-class institution that prioritizes its alumni network and benefits immensely.

The past has been good for the AUCC, but the future can be so much better, and it seems this message is not lost on the institution’s founder, management, and administration. In selecting “Re-Imaging UACC: Excellence in Education within the Context of Pan-Africanism and Digitization” as the theme for the institution’s 20th anniversary, the visionary and forward-thinking nature of the founder and the administrative body comes to the fore once more. This theme demonstrates that the university recognizes how far it has come, is in alignment with its vision and mission, understands global trends and how technology is shaping the future and has made plans to strategically position itself for the coming decades while effectively training its students.

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I have advocated for technology-driven courses at African universities and am particularly excited that the African University College of Communications has made digitization and Pan-Africanism the core of its focus going forward. For an institution as forward-thinking as this in its planning, it will be no surprise if the study of digital media becomes a core course for students at the AUCC. This will give every student of the institution some edge over the average student of communications and journalism in several, if not all, other African universities. Undoubtedly, our continent needs the innovative, visionary, forward-thinking, and strategic spirit of Honourable Yankah and Professor Blanson in more persons than two.

Congratulations to Honourable Yankah, the Board of Directors, the Management, staff, students, and alumni of the African University College of Communications on celebrating this historic milestone.

.Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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Ngige’s Casualties

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Ngige’s Casualties

By Tony Afejuku
Something big and little and little and big at the same time has happened in the last couple of days in respect of ASUU, our one and only union that abominates any injustice or wrong act or wrong doing in the land, this land – your land my land, and our land where our universities are no more our universities and never will be our universities unless our so-called political leaders end their infatuation with evil. And one evil that prevails in the land is the evil of falsehood. The central regime’s dramatis personae have been fortifying it with evil, real evil of falsehood – which they have been employing to decimate the just struggle of ASUU. What an irony! What an irony employing the hyperbole of deceit drivelling blood for effect!

What transpired last week at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria certainly spoke volumes upon volumes about this land that has witnessed heinous crimes against university education; but why and why? On Wednesday, 21 September the Industrial Court ruled against ASUU. I knew it would happen as it happened. In fact, in this column on Friday, 16 September 2022 I said, inter-alia, as follows: “I have a lurking suspicion that the government and its constrictors are out and are determined to straighten out the judicial paper in the mind of the judge in their favour.” Furthermore, in the last paragraph of the column, I said that “The union shall know no retreat, no surrender and no depression in its decently patriotic and patriotically decent struggle even in all the pertinent courts of justice as well against its constrictors. I can hear the knock of judicial thunder with my inner ears. (“Reflections on ASUU and the constrictors”). Everything revealed to me shall come to pass. Meanwhile, stay in suspense as I try to address what I must address here and now. Before this is done, however, let me quote one of my ardent readers pertinently. By the way, as every reader of this column knows, I quote my ardent readers from time to time because I see myself as their faithful and strict apostle and vice versa. Now my reader’s words: “The government can only deceive itself for as long as it wants. The draconian policy of ‘no work no pay’ cannot work, will never work. If I were to advise ASUU, I will say no more negotiations until the government announces a reversal of that nonsensical policy. Why should ASUU even sit down with these locusts? The agreement is there; let the brainless government go and implement: End of story!”

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This reader was reacting to my last Friday’s essay entitled “No work, no pay:” Oppressors’ law.’ Suyi Ayodele, every ‘Tuesday Flat Out’ columnist of the Nigerian Tribune, sent me the words I have just quoted. I perfectly understand his patriotic dimensions which are not entirely different from mine and those of many other compatriots. One of his primary dimensions is that ASUU should be as committed as ever to its struggle to reclaim our public universities from this central government of liars whose falsehood has caused and is still causing so much pain that is drooping us droopingly.

Personally, I hold Chris Ngige mainly responsible for what is what in the current almost eight month’s strike of ASUU. Clearly, Ngige, inter-alios, must be held responsible for the abominations which have caused and are still causing our academic casualties. His rhetoric is the rhetoric and has been the rhetoric of falsehood. His role all along has been the role of the owner and opener of the ways of tainted falsehood. The rhetoric generated therefrom, I say it again, is the rhetoric of the lying and drivelling one as his education minister colleague publicly informed us not long ago. Let me weigh you down no longer with suspense. Ngige illegally dragged ASUU to the National Industrial Court even when negotiation that was no negotiation was on between the warring parties. What did Ngige, the labour minister, say in this wise? As a minister who is akin to a government official who lives the life of spite, un-selflessness, wickedness, judgment that is no judgment, and un-forgiveness, he said openly that the government did not take ASUU to court! Who did? His lie was ironically exposed in court when the lawyers the federal government contacted and contracted to argue the government’s case owned up to be representing the Federal Government. Of course, the interlocutory injunction that Barrister Igwe, SAN and company got for Ngige and company has since been called “black market” injunction – as I foresaw (although not exactly as used in the immediately quoted words) in my first quotation of myself already tendered above. But I am now inclined to call the court order Ngige-market injunction. Some solid judicial comments on the last court proceedings that I have read certainly justify my current record of it. As a matter of fact, a brilliant review-cum-analysis of the National Industrial Court’s “injunctive relief against ASUU” by Abiola Sanni (SAN and a Professor of Commercial Law, University of Lagos) justifies my journalistic intervention as I hereby present it.

READ  ALSO: ‘No Work, No Pay’: Oppressors’ Law

The first casualty of Ngige’s hard deviousness is His Lordship Justice Polycarp Hamman. Allegedly, he has allowed himself to be used to procure Ngige-market injunction for the un-deserving – the un-deserving who is not in alignment with the power and vibrational vitality of justice without casualties. Whatever compelled His Lordship to do what he did will cause him cosmic consequences that are inescapable and which can never ever give him peace of mind that is peace of mind. The other casualties are the government’s lawyers whose judicial voices were bereft of the holiness of truth and justice and sanely sane morality. Indeed, the one called Senator Etang exposed himself as one whose judicial heart is as light as a feather-less feather when Seun Okunbaloye of Channels Television politely but frankly dissected him in his every day 7:00PM “Politics Today.” For tactical and strategic reasons, I must spare my readers essential details of his interview of Barrister Etang the driveller. But let me say this: Our public university students are major casualties of his and his principal’s actions. What they have done to the students, I must say, is not un-akin to the poison of King Cobra and a scorpion or tarantula bite. If and whenever their acts go the whole hog, what I am saying will be better appreciated.

So far the greatest casualties of Ngige’s rhetoric of deceit and falsehood and power of vindictiveness are ASUU members, many of whom allegedly have died. The man’s disease of falsehood and hunger poison are committing havoc which ASUU is, however, commanding. Don’t ask me how? Thoth, a deathless Divine Master and Avatar of Justice and of Healing and of Expansive Knowledge and more will not leave – and is not leaving – ASUU alone. Sooner or later Ngige and company will become their own casualties. At the appointed time they will pay dearly for every of their heinous crimes against tertiary education in the land. Only the deep can soar in the realm of the deep. O dear, dear ASUU, never forego dwelling in the struggle. The struggle is tasking and drooping you droopily but do it and carry it on with drool.

Let me anchor with the persuasive emblematic words of Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924), Czech but German-speaking novelist and short-shorty writer:

“One idiot is One Idiot.
Two Idiots Are Two Idiots.
Ten thousand Idiots
Are a Political Party.”

Interpret the quotation how you will, but its vibrational profoundness reminds me of the ancient Egyptian Thoth’s magical and vibrational profoundity whose depth I shall share with my readers in no distant time. The poison our idiots have put in the body of our public universities will soon be withdrawn with one profound word of command. Meantime, we must hum and keep on humming: Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Thunder!!!

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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