By Hashim Muhammad Suleiman, PhD
Two paradigms about building perspectives, opinions, and belief formation that are still awesome to me are propaganda models and studies in information-seeking behavior.
While propaganda modeling never sees truth as sacrosanct, information-seeking behavior studies show that many people actively seek only information that reinforces their biases and predisposition.
Both paradigms predict humans as active liars that deliberately avoid facts that challenge their comfort zones. In propaganda modeling, what matters is not truth but easily believable lies.
To this paradigm, constant regurgitation of beats of lies easily changes such lies into a hysteria of facts. This is exactly what some people are doing with lies against ASUU.
It is in relation to the above line of thinking that I set to extrapolate on some widely sustained lies against ASUU that are mostly shared by two sets of people and easily believed by one set of people. The former are government and ideological agents while the latter are mostly political data boys and students that refuse to know.
Read the lies below:
1. ASUU demands 1.6 trillion from government.
Whenever I come across the above lie actively promoted by government and ideological agents, I can’t but giggle at how easily lies are propagated, accepted, and seen as truth. For the umpteenth time, I’ll only ask the believers of such lies to dig a little further and know who came about that figure.
ASUU never, I repeat never required the money mentioned in the above lie. The federal government by itself set up a committee to investigate and come up with a workable solution to remedy the spiral decaying of our public universities in Nigeria.
That Federal government committee published its findings and called it Nigerian Public Universities NEEDS Assessment Report (you can google that). It is the federal government itself that arrived at that amount.
However, now because of propaganda, people are coming up with grey blackmail to claim it is ASUU that needs that money. As mentioned earlier, propaganda modeling is not about truth but easily believable lies sugar-coated to curry emotional appendages.
2. ASUU is a socialist organization but is demanding capitalist remuneration.
Whenever I come across this ideological appropriation, I become worried about our lack of reading culture. Most of us form and believe our opinions from hearsay, social media posts, and news headlines.
We are either too busy to read and verify information or we have become meekly gullible to accept any information that tallies with the little schema in our heads. In doing that, we conventionalize and stereotype fleeting lies into instant truth.
For those with little knowledge of contemporary political culture and thought, we know that socialism was and is never a philosophy that promotes poverty. Socialism is an emancipatory culture that aligns itself with the working class to come together for collectivization of interests of the labourers towards enhanced conditions of living.
Capitalism on the other hand, is a philosophy that’s built on usurpation of surplus products for the satisfaction of greedy few elites at the expense of the proletariat. It is a philosophy that enshrines giving the worker only that which would make him survive enough to maintain the wheels of exploitation by political cum financial elites.
While socialism views education as a social right, capitalism sees education as a commodity from whence profit must be aggressively maximised. Thus, ASUU as a workers’ union is not wrong to see education as a social right and to logically ask for a better working environment which is a core tenet of socialism.
In essence, ASUU is asking for a socialist wages, not the otherway round. Stop thinking that the pictures in your head are the actual representation of what’s obtainable in the real world of knowledge.
Go back to the literature and understand both conceptual and theoretical postulations. Twisting knowledge to serve ideological underpinnings doesn’t change the knowledge of those who truly know.
3. ASUU is collecting salaries for work not done.
I still laugh. Ngige initially came to negotiations table with that erroneous perspective. He said, “government has already activated the no work no pay law.” ASUU told him no problem, we have no qualms with that.
Ngige was about to take his leave from the finished negotiations when the former permanent secretary of the ministry of education enlightened him of the implications of that. Ngige quickly had a change of focus.
Now, I’ll urge all of us to know the social issues we dabble into, even if social media has given us the opportunity to type and post. Universities in Nigeria operate semesters system and each course has both academic and duration requirements.
Whenever strike is over, lectures and exams resume where the strike truncated them. If lecturers do go back and complete them, there’ll be a break in both duration and academic requirements. That means all students would have incomplete records to make them be certified as graduates.
What this means is that ASUU members aren’t paid undue wages. They’re paid what they’ve gone back and continued with. For one to know and appreciate this, one needs to really understand the peculiarities of university system and conditions of service of lecturers. This is not easily known through the scrolling of social media pages.
4. ASUU has refused to explore other alternatives.
This is the must absurd lie of all the rest. In all its epochs of engagement, ASUU has never closed its doors to myriads of alternatives. ASUU engages in strike only as a last resort. In terms of lobbying, there is no any stakeholder in Nigerian educational system that ASUU has not lobbied to make the government see reasons.
Yet, the government only wakes up from its slumber when ASUU declares strike. In fact, time without number, whenever ASUU calls up a strike then government starts its own strike of deliberately refusing to abide by what it willingly agrees to do. In fact, the current strike is here to make government call off the strike it has declared since December 2020.
We should go back to our little history. Therein we will know that ASUU is always and has been always open to realistic suggestions, not ones induced by London weather or that of an outsider views.
5. ASUU cannot dictate to its employer.
Isn’t this laughable? Even more laughable is that this lie seems to be promoted by people with semblance of knowledge? Anyway, the state minister of education was once cited as saying “you don’t dictate to the man with the money.” Really? ASUU has never and would never dictate to its employer, the state.
Government is not an employer, it too is an employee just like ASUU members. Our problem in this part of the world is mostly that of weaponization of lack of information. To the informed members of the society, they know state is the employer of all, including people in government.
Personalisation of state apparatuses would never deter ASUU from asking those in government to be responsible to the oath of their offices. Offices are fleets that roll bye while state, our employer is a constant entity on whom we hold allegiance to.
You may think and act as if government is state. However, that’ll never transmute a junta into a nation-state with infallible powers and rights.
To be continued….
Hashim Muhammad Suleiman, PhD can be reached via email@example.com