30 November 2013


(Image Credit: mrdowling)
As of now, and in the course of writing this Weekly, I am on my knees- literally. It seems to me, having tried pacing, and the immersion of head in water to cool my brain and my being that on my knees is where I better can deliver this article which burns in my consciousness, despite the many itches surrounding it. 
Back in the days when men fought wars and lived on honour, sweat and blood, a mighty man of valour walked, leaving giant footprints that the sandstorms of time have failed to erase. Alexander the great, King of Macedonia. I assume you, as well as many others are familiar with the story of Alexander who fought many wars and never lost any, who lived by the sword –though he didn’t die by it; who drafted battle plans, went on many conquests starting from the age of twenty and conquered lands till his death, at the age of 32. It is needful to give this brief history of the man who rode the wings of time and lives on, on the many bloodied pages of history.

There are several happenings in the world at this time. Wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, protests against hubristic leadership etc. But the focus of this Weekly is one which has earned its mention on this platform: the on-going war between the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). I call it a ‘war’ because it is one- a war of words with students as arsenal. The warriors fight and watch with glee as the shells (students) are wasting (in prostituting their future and wasting valuable human capital). You do not necessarily need to bring physical armouries in form of bombs, drones and Bazookas before you have a war. In many ways than one, the case of ASUU reminds of Alexander the great and his time, his passionate drive, his thirst for ‘new lands’ and his restless energy that drove his soldiers to war despite obvious weariness and reluctance along the way. 

(Image Credit: goldmyne)
At the risk of sounding repetitive, the war which began on the 1st of July, 2013- almost 5months old- and as a means of securing the attention of the Federal Government to the implementation of the 2009 agreement with ASUU and funding of universities has seen the Associations determination to win this war and the Federal Government’s carefulness to not lose or if it will, not lose a lot. However, in the course and the obvious stance of ASUU, there has been a lot of concession from the FG. This victory reminds me of Alexander’s sweep of Europe and Asia Minor. However, it also calls to memory the increased thirst to conquer new territories and I imagine him after each and every conquest and over many bottles of good Grecian wine, he thinks to himself ‘it was easy to conquer Europe. I want the whole world and I can get it now that my name is famous and my tales are being told. Which country is next?’ and so, Alexander, kept fighting, conquering new lands ad hominem. The many battles Alexander fought began to weary his foot soldiers. They had had enough of the sword, blood and sweat and so they began to grumble and pretty soon, the grumblings turned into actions that finally divided his empire. This once again reminds me of ASUU’s unrelenting thirst for new grounds: 2009 agreement, funding of universities, facilities and equipment, giving FG conditions etc. It doesn’t seem to disturb ASUU’s leadership and it has chosen just like Alexander to ignore the obvious grumblings of its members. Some universities haven’t been a part of ASUU’s tactic of war which is to go on strike as its thirst calls but that is not nearly as important as universities which used to be a part of this war indicating weariness, some pulling out, others merely grumbling and the rest fighting this war even though they have what they need. They will not rest, just like Alexander, till they have what they want. Alexander had what we needed, but he wanted something he didn’t necessarily need and kept fighting. ASUU has what it needs, but it wants what it wants- FG at its feet with agreement and conditions which are becoming unreasonable. 
Still on my knees, I wonder what would have happened had Alexander been content with what he had. He would have lived longer perhaps, his empire wouldn’t be divided maybe, he will still retain the respect of his generals and soldiers who got burned out as a result of his many conquests…a lot could have changed. ASUU is on this war and it may be a good idea for it to stop fighting and obey the injunction of the FG to resume now that it has what it needs. I suspect ASUU is wondering what the masses will say if it lays down weapons now that it has what it needs, having fought so hard and well. Alexander probably had a thought about what people would say should he stop his crusade but had he stopped, he would have gained the respect of his followers, he would have lived longer perhaps, he would have preserved all he fought for…perhaps. If ASUU stops fighting now, it would earn the respect of many, maybe not immediately but with time, people will come to see what it gave up getting to preserve that which has been gotten. Alexander’s empire was divided, ASUU may suffer the same fate; the universities who pulled out of the on-going strike may team up with one or two which have long since ceased to be involved. And that may be the beginning of the division of ASUU’s empire. Having said all this, I rise with a question. Alexander’s Macedonian empire was divided and later died, will ASUU’s?

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