Health & Academic Unions: Suddenly they Forget the Struggle

Do you know that Professor Isaac Adewole, the current Nigerian Minister of Health was among the doctors who led the 1984 Resident Doctors strike in Nigeria? He was the president of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan chapter.

Resident Doctors are currently on strike in Nigeria. One would have expected that with the experience of Professor Isaac Adewole as a former leader of Resident Doctors in their long struggle for better welfare, after two years as a minister, he would have at least tackled the issues causing this reoccurring industrial actions.

Under him as Minister of Health a meagre 4.15% was allocated for health in 2017 budget despite the Abuja Declaration of 2001 where African Head of States endorsed 15 % annual budget for health sector financing.

As we all know in Nigeria most Health Ministers are medical doctors picked from the Nigerian health sector. They are doctors who have one time or the other demanded for better welfare and working condition or have given a ‘problem and solution’ lecture or speech in public.

And then they are made Ministers and…well, you know the rest.

This happens in other sectors and capacities too as It is a common thing in Nigeria. Such professionals are everywhere and If you give them your ears they can list a thousand solutions to the problems of Nigeria. Yes, we have listened to them talk about problems and solutions in Lectures and speeches organised by professional bodies, CSOs and NGOs.

Some are even known critics and columnists, for example Ruben Abati PhD, of the Guardian Newspaper and the Patito’s Gang. I was a big fan of this guy. I started reading his column in the Guardian Newspaper at age 15. This guy was the best. He made me understood what good government and governance should be like at a young age.

And then, he was made the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity and Official Spokesperson in the Nigerian Presidency (2011-2015). Ruben Abati became an active part of what he spent many year criticising and writing against – a bad government marred by corruption.

Some will say Adewole is or Abati was just an appointee. They were not the ones making decisions. Well, we also have seen Presidents who have experience and knowledge of the problems and challenges of a particular sector and still performed poorly or even worse than their predecessors in that sector.

From 2007 – 2015, Nigeria was led by two former lecturers: Late President Yar’Adua (3years) and President Jonathan (5years). Did Nigerians benefit from their teaching experience? Did our education sector improve?

Yar’Adua served as a chemistry lecturer at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria, Kaduna State, between 1976 and 1979. In 1979 he began working as a lecturer at College of Art Science, remaining in this position until 1983.

But under his government the highest budgetary allocation he signed for education was 10.04% (2008) of total budget, against 26% UNESCO recommendation, 23.1 % allocation in Ghana, 12.1 % in Liberia, 13.8 % in Cape Verde and 15.9 % in Benin, even less than an average 12.87% military regime (1994 – 1996) allocated to Education.

His deputy and successor, President Jonathan was a Zoology lecturer at Rivers State College of Education Rumuolumeni (now Ignatius Ajuru University). The highest budgetary allocation he signed for education was 10.7% (2015).

The Nigerian university system recorded a total 14 months of industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during Jonathan’s five-year presidency.

There was 5 months strike in 2010, shortly after Jonathan was sworn in to succeed late President Musa Yar’Adua, 3 months in 2011 and 6 months in 2013 – you can call him ‘King of ASUU Strike’.

This is what I have learnt: Before they get into the corridors of power, you are most likely to see them holding hands with fellow workers, singing songs like, “Solidarity Forever” in union meetings; giving lecture up and down, analysing Nigeria’s problems and proffering solution or criticizing government policies in the spirit of “all for one, one for all”.

But when they get up there, they take the side of the oppressors or even become the oppressor. It becomes “one for self, God for all.”


One thought on “Health & Academic Unions: Suddenly they Forget the Struggle

  1. Politics and political appointment in Nigeria are absurd and abnormal.
    Incubents become possessed in all spheres of their lives when they get there and they loose control.

    Liked by 1 person

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