Are You A Student? You Can End The ASUU Strike, No Violence Necessary By Sonala Olumhense

Columnist: 
Sonala Olumhense

If you are a student and you are sitting in front of your father’s television set in the dark instead of being in front of a lecturer getting a degree, you are a fool.  

But foolishness is curable.  If you are willing to take your fate in your hands, here is my foolproof five-day plan for getting your life back.  There is no shedding of blood or destruction of property, but you will rise from being a spectator in your own sport and put on the jersey to play in it.  

There are a few assumptions: that you are outraged at the games that are being played with your life and want to return to school; that you worship nobody who has a last name; and that you are in touch with at least one other student who also wants to live, not die.

To begin with, there are two people in Abuja who are answering your name.  The first answers the title of Senator; the other, Representative, powerful titles in your name.

In your name, as you probably know, they earn the fattest salaries of their kind in the world.  In your name, they earn the fattest allowances, live in the best homes, and drive the most luxurious official cars.

They do all of this, and more, because they represent you, your family and your larger community.  Most of them lie about this, of course, because in Abuja the dog in the hunt hunts for the dog.  The time has come to call in the debt.

In the Upper House, there are 109 Senators.  Most are expired and discredited ex-this and ex-that who smuggled themselves into the premises somehow.  They are there because the law recognizes them as the legitimate representative of a certain chunk of the Nigerian population.  One of those chunks is yours.

And then there is the House, which is made up of 360 men and women, each representing another defined chunk of Nigeria known as a constituency.  You are in one of them, and are known as a constituent.  

Under this plan, you can change your own life in a few days by changing the lives of these powerful men and women.  They work for you, remember that, so make them earn it.    

I have one more assumption: that you know the website of the National Assembly.  It is: www.nassnigeria.org.  You will find mug shots of your Senator and Representative there.  They address themselves as Honourable ThisPerson or ThatPerson, myths that are often very powerful when unchallenged by citizens who lack get-up-and-go.

If you take a moment to study that website, you will notice that the Senators and Representatives are effectively hiding in the open.  They have meaningless email addresses (senatecontact@nass.gov.ng or repscontact@nass.gov.ng).  To use them is to put a message into a bottle and throw it into the Atlantic.  

What is worse is that they do not list their telephone numbers.  That is an insulting thing for a federal legislator to do, because it suggests he is in Abuja for himself and that he works for himself.  Again, he works for his constituency or district.  He works for you, and now you have a good reason to remind him.

Day One: Write two letters, one to each of them.  Identify yourself as a student from his constituency who needs his help to return to school within the week by ensuring that the government resolves the ASUU strike immediately.  Tell him that you are asking for urgent and substantive involvement, not platitudes.

If you have writing or technology skills, use the Internet.  Publish a blog.  Use whatever email address you can find for them, including the general one I have listed here. Drop a copy off at his homes in the area.  Send a copy to your favourite newspaper and website.  

You will be ignored.  Chances are that your mail will not be read at all, but give the Senator and Representative the benefit of the doubt and send the letter anyway.  Find a friend, relative, or concerned student in Abuja and have them drop copies off at the National Assembly.

Day Two: Write to the Dynamic Duo again.  Ask what has been done in response to your distress complaint.  

Remind them that they work for you.  Tell them that you are not asking for a favour; you are simply demanding that they do their work, which is to present your best interests as a constituent at the seat of power.  Stress that you simply want to return to school.

Tell them you expect them to work with their colleagues as a House, or as the institution known as the National Assembly, to intercede with the executive to resolve the ASUU impasse right away, and that this is your instruction as your representative.  They work for you, but if you do not remind them, they forget, conveniently.

Day Three: Write an open letter to both constituencies.  If you are in touch with other students in the area, you can pen a joint letter.  Complain to other constituents about the situation and that you simply desire to return to school with no further delay.   Ask for their help to put pressure on the Senator and Representative.  They, too, can write to the Senator or call him.  Many of them know his family.  They can inform his wife his homestead is in tumult. Use text messages and social media to broadcast your complaint and request that people forward to others.

Crank it up: Publish the Senator’s phone number; he is a public servant.  Publish the Representative’s phone number; he is a public servant.  
It is no excuse that they have not listed their numbers; these distinguished servants of the people ought to have publicly-listed phones.  In any case, within your constituency, you are creative enough to find it.  Encourage the public to call him, especially between 6p.m. and 6a.m. Sleep deprivation is a legitimate weapon of conflict.

If you can find their phone numbers, you can probably also find their private email addresses.  Publish them as well and encourage everyone with Internet access to write to write or forward their messages to them several times a day.  The mailbox will probably fill up and be rendered useless.  Damage is also a legitimate weapon of conflict.  

Day Four: Write to the distinguished Senator and Representative again.  Tell them about your efforts to reach them for help, but you must demonstrate this.  You know their homes, don’t you? If not, all you have to do is ask within the area.
 
So crank it up a little more: List all the glittering new fortresses where you have left letters for him or are planning to leave letters for him.  In order to ensure he believes you, state the address and location of each mansion, and list all the cars you can see parked in them.  

By Day Five, your Senator and your Representative would certainly have changed their phones.   But remember, if your friends have also been busy, nationwide, there will be millions of people, 469 of them federal legislators, who will be grasping the meaning of democracy for the first time.  

Your school may not magically have reopened, but you would have reinvented the entire political terrain, a lesson that will be available at future elections, and in-between.  

They work for you.

•    sonala.olumhense@gmail.com
•    Twitter: @SonalaOlumhense

 

Comments
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LittSbfAaZAF

Hi Fola,I understand why you would like a daiesnttion wedding. I’m sad that you’ve had bad experiences the few times you’ve been in Nigeria. I’ve noticed this is common amongst Nigerians who grew up outside the country. Personally, although I hated big weddings and events when I was younger, now that I am older, I find those events, amusing, silly yet evoking feelings of warmth and happiness in me. I really can’t explain why or how my feelings about ‘owambes’ changed but they have. I hope you’ll feel a little positive about them someday too.Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.Lape.

Kind of reasoning

Nowadays I find myself reading more of the comments made about this kind of write-ups and it really hurts to see how much decay our country has fallen into. In Nigeria there is no black and white, good or bad, wrong or right all we have is "will it benefit me?" "in what way will I benefit?" etc. So sad. People complain about people living in foreign land, I count them as lucky, you can imagine a nation that over 90% of its population would rather live elsewhere, smh. Until we stop being myopic and take responsibility nothing will change, nothing can if we dont demand what we deserve. the government is ther to serve us not the other way round. Why would a Gov build a road and hold a procession to open it? We should understand it is our right to have that road and it his duty to build it, thats why we elected him. If we all look inwards and discard our selfish interests maybe things can get better, until then we dont need to lie to ourselves that things are getting better

It takes courage to live, work and survive in Nigeria

These youths Sonala criticises for docility are often young people whose folks barely manage to send them to universities to get an education. I interact with some of these gifted young men and women daily. They can't even access the internet regularly to read these articles!! Many have to eke out a living to support themselves. The older generation, including Sonala, who could have been around to influence things with his intellect and ability to lead marches, have failed these youths. I believe firmly that no Nigerian university student is a fool.

Adekola, yes I am a proud woman

There you go displaying the typical Nigerian man's inability to transcend sexist, primordial thinking. We Yorubas are usually applauded & renowned for advanced reasoning when it comes to these things but it's obvious your case is an exception (I assume by your name, Adekola, that you're Yoruba). Funky is a nickname derived from my first name, Funke. I'm a resource person for an international NGO, trying to make change possible from my end ON NIGERIAN SOIL.
I won't lead a march. I won't advise anyone in Nigeria to lead a march. It solves no problems in a country whose law enforcers are rooted in primitivism; anyone who lives in Nigeria would know that but when you've lived abroad for some years like I have, one comes to believe erroneously that solutions which work in one's immediate surroundings work in Nigeria. Sonala is very convinced about the effectiveness of marches -- he should come down and lead it. RIP to the young souls killed during the oil subsidy protests.

Funky (aka Kuku kumaku), UR a Coward!

So rather than focus on the subject, you are concerned that Sonala is abroad? And you are in Nigeria leading marches? If you are so brave, why don't you put your name on your abuse so that we can tell you are who you claim to be? Let me guess: you are afraid of Sonala who has placed it all on the line in Nigeria and abroad for decades advocating on behalf of the people?

Or you are afraid people will find out you funk, as in smell? Sonala is not in hiding; the way I see it, for him to even begin to consider your viewpoint, you should first prove to be a man. But then, you are a woman, aren't you, sissy?

Akpos, your brain is actually your friend -- use it.

Akpos, the fact that you can't think for yourself, look beyond the message and ask the messenger how many Nigerian students he's willing to lead on marches speaks volumes about your intellect, or lack thereof. Dino Melaye led a protest yesterday to have Ms. Oduah sacked. Which march has sanctimonious Sonala led? As a Nigerian myself who can work anywhere in the world but who has chosen to stay back and do my bit, I can talk down to Sonala & his ilk, like it or not.
There's a problem when a Nigerian living and working abroad thinks he can mentally railroad others into taking steps that he/she wasn't courageous enough to stay back and personally do. His categorisation of hapless Nigerian students as fools for any reason is beyond silly -- it's the hallmark of cowardice. Sonala's attitude in the article reflects the old order of elderly Nigerians who look down on youths. It's the mind set of older Nigerians and the country's leadership that the youths don't count for much.

Akpos, your brain is your actually friend -- use it

Akpos, the fact that you can't think for yourself, look beyond the message and ask the messenger how many Nigerian students he's willing to lead on marches speaks volumes about your intellect, or lack thereof. Dino Melaye led a protest yesterday to have Ms. Oduah sacked. Which march has sanctimonious Sonala led? As a Nigerian myself who can work anywhere in the world but who has chosen to stay back and do my bit, I can talk down to Sonala & his ilk, like it or not.
There's a problem when a Nigerian living and working abroad thinks he can mentally railroad others into taking steps that he/she wasn't courageous enough to stay back and personally do. His categorisation of hapless Nigerian students as fools for any reason is beyond silly -- it's the hallmark of cowardice. Sonala's attitude in the article reflects the old order of elderly Nigerians who look down on youths. It's the mind set of older Nigerians and the country's leadership that the youths don't count for much.

ASUU Strike

Where are the parents of these students? 'Busy' praying on mountains for universities to reopen! Why are Nigerians so docile and timid? Children learn from parents. Students have parents who should be in the forefront of making sure their children go back to school. The parents seem content to have them at home, most lazing around or getting into one trouble or the other. Where are the PARENTS?
Meanwhile, our government is busy setting up panel to probe the purchase of multimillion Naira vehicles for one minister. God save Nigeria.

Address Issues

Funky, address the issues raised and stop the name calling, you Funky fool!

S.O. you live, work, breathe,

S.O. you live, work, breathe, sleep, drink, "enjoy" life on foreign soil - you have done so for so many years, I think you've actually begun to conveniently forget that you're a Nigerian. Staying in a foreign land, whilst you and your ilk consistently run down the country does not make you any less a Nigerian than the rest of us here. Come out of your cowardly haven from where you beat down and berate people who chose to stay back and wade through the murkiness that you describe. They earn more respect for their bravery, boldness, (and determination to survive) than you who chooses to criticise from your sanctimonious self-aggrandizement posture.

OBY EZEKWESILI

Recently I am beginning to think people like OBY EZEKWESILI should be a 2015 aspirant, either as a presidential or as the vice-presidential.

The problem is: are Nigerians truly ready for 'good people' in government? Crying and wishing for a better country is one thing while willing to vote for the right persons is another.

yes

Your ryt men, if u try one of our senetors or reps, na police go bury u alive, without going 2 court,

Ur very right One tin people

Ur very right
One tin people don't get is dere is no institution of government which is perfect. I see a lot of people compare our skools with does abroad without getting to know more bout issues surrounding dem, one tin u get to find out is d government of such places benefit a lot from such institutions unlike ours n in our own case most of d money being demanded by asuu still go into private pocket. If asuu members are sincere with nigerian at large why do most of dem send dere own children abroad? Well its becos its not dere business how other students fair. So wen did it turn to dere problem? Cos dey need more money to pay foreign skool fees? Abeg let's all remaind dem dat we all started dat way n have cum dis far, so its either dey continue until d special grace of God or rather resign n go leave abroad.

will all dis stupid leaders heed @ all

Somtimes i worried, i worry bcox dis fools are there toying wit our lifes and and future of dis great country of ours. No present plan & no proper plan 4 d future. It's a shame on all bunch of destitute leaders that has no positive impact to drive dis great country to glory land. Is dis how u were treated during ur own era?... Nemesis of looting public fund & selfishness wil caught on u & ur family somewhere, somtime and somehow by d special grace of d most high.

Tinpot, foreign-based "revolutionary".

Mr. Sonala, if you are a born Nigerian and you are sitting in a foreign capital, earning cool bread & contributing your toil and labour towards the development of another man's land (and your well-situated foreign-based family) because you didn't have the balls, pride, self-worth & the patriotism to stay back and develop your own country, you are a fool.

I wonder how seriously some of these tinpot foreign-based critics think they are taken on the ground here in Nigeria. When will your fellow Nigerians will start to take your word for it? When you come & lead the marches to those listed mansions of the senators - at least, demonstrate that you can take a bullet or two on behalf of the Nigerian masses. Dino Melaye, Nair el-Rufai may be perceived by a good number of Nigerians to be men with questionable antecedents, but home-based Nigerian students respect them more than you, Mr Sonala. Know why? They can actually lead a march to those mansions.

RE:ASUU TOO

He who fights and runs away, lives to fight again tomorrow. ASUU should take the one offered and call students back and tomorrow they should stand another round of strikes abi? How does that make sense to you Mr. Anonymous?
Mr. Sonala Olumhense, I have one question for you. Are these so-called Assembly men all blind, deaf and dumb? They do not know that a large portion of their constituents who are students have not been in School for nearly four months now? They need letters and phone calls to wake them up form their drunken stupor?
The truth my brother is that this democracy rubbish is not working in this country and CANNOT work. We need nothing but a benevolent dictatorship. I know many people will not agree with me on this but that is my considered opinion.

The lily-livered foreign based "revolutionary"

Mr. Sonala, if you are a born Nigerian and you are sitting in a foreign capital, earning cool bread & contributing your toil and labour towards the development of another man's land (and your well-situated foreign-based family) because you didn't have the balls, pride, self-worth & the patriotism to stay back and develop your own country, you are a fool.

I wonder how seriously some of these tinpot foreign-based critics think they are taken on the ground here in Nigeria. When will your fellow Nigerians will start to take your word for it? When you come & lead the marches to those listed mansions of the senators - at least, demonstrate that you can take a bullet or two on behalf of the Nigerian masses. Dino Melaye, Nair el-Rufai may be perceived by a good number men with questionable antecedents, but home-based Nigerian students respect them more than you, Mr Sonala. Know why? They can actually lead a march to those mansions.

ASUU too

While I support writing the Parliamentarians, I also think students should 'force' ASUU to go back to work. Many lecturers now have their children abroad and it seems they do not care what happens to their students.
They have made their demand, the government is ready to meet some. Take the one offered and bring the students back to the Universities. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight again tomorrow. Both the government and ASUU should be considerate. It is not just a one-way traffic!!!

Other Countries

Last week, the government of France deported a teenager, the students protested and the government reversed the action and begged the deportee to return to France. She refused. Last three weeks, students protested in Italy against what they called "excessive" funding going to the private Universities. The government addressed the issue immediately. In Nigeria, the issue is poor/non funding of the public Universities. What a shame! The Nigerian students left their own fate to be toyed with by those ruling and ruining their country. Observe that the events in France and Italy did not (at least for now) affect the education (future) of the students of those countries, yet they know that they have a stake in whatever is happening in their fatherlands (call it patriotism, if you like). The current ASUU strike directly affects the present and the future of the Nigerian students, yet they (their leaders) have been made to surrender (mortgage) their future, for a porridge.

Like Leaders, Like Followers!!!

What do you expect from followers if leaders are foolish. It'll be stupid to expect intelligent followers if leaders are unintelligent.

We're all in it together!!!

God save Nigeria!

sos, you've made it look so

sos, you've made it look so simple and realistic with 6days, how much does a full page advert cost in a National daily, how much does it cost in govt owned tv station, which student have such money that won't go to a private school, let stop making it look as if we Nigerian student are so sterile even to our pen, will sahararepoters help me publish for free if i write, contact me via andymark2013@yahoo.com

will sahara publish for me free?

sos, you've made it look so simple and realistic with 6days, how much does a full page advert cost in a National daily, how much does it cost in govt owned tv station, which student have such money that won't go to a private school, let stop making it look as if we Nigerian student are so sterile even to our pen, will sahararepoters help me publish for free if i write, contact me via andymark2013@yahoo.com

sos, you've made it look so

sos, you've made it look so simple and realistic with 6days, how much does a full page advert cost in a National daily, how much does it cost in govt owned tv station, which student have such money that won't go to a private school, let stop making it look as if we Nigerian student are so sterile even to our pen, will sahararepoters help me publish for free if i write, contact me via andymark2013@yahoo.com

These people have no conscience

You make it sound as if we have a country. No sir! This is a contraption cobbled together for looting and looting. No patriotic and tenderhearted set of people will do what all these looters are doing in Abuja. While Nigerians just need to be able to put food on their table at least two good times a day, nothing suggests they will have their wish. Instead, what we see is that the minister of aviation is protecting herself with a $1.6 million car, while Nigerian planes fall of the sky under her watch.

5-DAY ACTION

Funny! When a system is rotten, all parts are affected.

Our leaders have no concern for education. The same goes for the students. If their institutions open, fine. If they remain closed, the better. No cause for alarm, therefore, why pray and agitate for a reopening?

hmm Sonala is right

I think Sonala is right. I have witnessed many situations where students do a peaceful protest to drive govenment. I think it can work in Nigeria although poverty has eaten deep in to our economy. I know some students will reveal the plan before it is taken and many students may end up in Jail. If properly planned they could achieve something!

Are You A Student?

Are Nigerian student or youth under spell, why are youth in nigeria afraid to fight. This present leader does not recognize any other language. They are busy looting nigeria money. We need rude awakening across Nigeria. You have been at home for over two months and you didn't take any step to drive jonathan out? what a coward students. Use your technology (your text messages) to your advantage. Where are the student Union? Where are the parents? .The future of your children are disappearing before your eyes and you are silent.

Day 6 - Mass Peaceful Protest

Thanks to Sonala for the very practical and simple to execute call to action.
If nothing happens after Day 5, on the 6th day, let all gather in each constituency from dawn to dusk. Gather in their numbers and ensure maximum media coverage. Let it be effective by making it happen all over the country. No burning tires, no stopping other citizens from going about their legitimate business, no violence, no shouting. Just gather in the most popular place in the constituent and take turn to make speeches and call the Senators and Reps to action. End the day with a plan for the next 6 days - repeat this action if necessary and I am positive we will get the results we want no matter how long it takes.

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