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Of Mark of Sadness and Judicious Interpretation, By Tunde Akanni

It is yet another season of anomie in Nigeria. Need we be reminded of any evidence beyond the ASUU strike, the doctors’, and the Benue primary school teachers’ strike? Benue again! The development in Benue is particularly striking. Governor Suswam went to Jerusalem to seek favour from his Creator after failing to ensure the delivery of same to his kith and kins. Prior to the home scene, after failing to see to the resolution of the ASUU strike, he has, by the reasoning of his kin and Senate President, David Mark, joined the list of incompetent people in the land. But the fact that Mark could only punctuate the lingering ASUU strike with a caustic pronouncement such as he made was particularly striking. Thursday October 24, 2013, this soldier turned senator did not have any kind word for the genuine distinguished and patriotic citizens who accepted to serve on the team that helped to save the nation’s teeming youths from a prolonged idleness such as currently happening again even as historians keep warning on double penalty when history repeats itself .

Obviously uninterested in the resolution of this protracted strike, after different types of recess, Senator Mark refused to accept responsibility for the lingering strike. He also refused to tap from Jibo’s wisdom. But thank God that Tamuwal did. . He has recognised the role of NASS in the crisis. He has promised that the House of Representatives would do the needful on budgetary allocation to address the four-month old strike. What is therefore needed now is for some senators to depart from the unenviable Mark’s path. They should pity the poor souls in the nation’s public universities. It is hoped too that this radical intervention as announced by Speaker Tambuwal would be sustained by the House of Representatives. Nigerians have missed it for too long.

Interestingly, whether directly or indirectly, if Mark still minds the basic implication of the leadership position he has OCCUPIED for years now, he would agree with us that his stance amounts to self condemnation. He was Senate President when the agreement was signed and therefore could not have been oblivious of the efforts needed to be mustered to address the situation. And now, the best intervention he could come up with is to make Nigerians sadder in his characteristic way. We won’t go back to Mark’s antecedents as a military officer, as Communications Minister in particular. But Mark made a particularly sad mark when he volunteered a comment on the phenomenon of social media which he later made rigorous efforts to retract. He always retracts any way, like he did on a rumoured scandalous donation he allegedly made to a pop star said to be marrying. Mark however missed the cheapest goal of glory one can ever imagine on this ASUU strike. Without wishing to task him as much as my brother, Prof Olukotun, did Jonathan the other time, doesn’t this Mark bother to gauge sound public opinions by reading readily available news reports and commentaries?

It is not unlikely that ASUU leadership knew that it should also do this but how would they go back to explain to their firebrand colleagues on what they would need to do to ensure that NASS members accommodate the legitimate demands in the appropriation bill or whatever? ASUU members must have heard stories about how colleagues running ministries, parastals and agencies have always had to ‘settle’ before they could secure allocations. But who would do the settling in this case?

Tunde Akanni, Journalist and Development Expert, teaches Journalism at the Lagos State University. Follow him via: @AkintundeAkanni

Of all the public interventions on this ASUU strike, clearly that of a veteran activist and political science scholar of note, Jibrin Ibrahim of CDD, transcends all pettiness. It was a most judicious interpretation. The activism patriarch who was part of the birthing of ASUU sadly noted that Nigerian leaders for decades have the same damning attitude to education, the advancement of which bothers ASUU all the time. His position therefore is that ASUU should go the extra length of lobbying NASS members for budgetary relevance.

Mark however missed the cheapest goal of glory one can ever imagine on this ASUU strike… Doesn’t this Mark bother to gauge sound public opinions by reading readily available news reports and commentaries?

Yes, the most visible Mark in Nigeria saddens! It saddens because he keeps reminding the public of the ineptitude and idleness of most government functionaries in this country. After four months of the closure of all government owned universities in Nigeria, the best intervention from the nation’s number three citizen was buck-passing even as it amounted to self indictment! Not too long ago during the fuel price price hike palaver, the best we had from this guy was his effort to impress the nation as the boy-man in all the photo actions. Thanks to God for all these for we would not have gotten to confirm this age-old suspicions.

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