My name is Government, in case you don’t know. You underrate me at your peril, Teacher. You, a mere pen and paper wielder, exam marker, lecture deliverer, knowledge vendor. A hunter of antelope can’t compare himself with a hunter of men.
Only the Government can delete you from circulation — and even find your corpse guilty after you are gone.
You say you had an agreement with the former tenants of power. So what! They did not fulfill what they promised. Now you’re camping at my door, insisting that I should redeem the liability I inherited. You’re so naive, Teacher. In this part of the world, we inherit assets from our predecessors, not liabilities. Those who are caught in the mix are just lubricants of the transition engine.
Your arrogance is your undoing, Teacher. Remember the 70’s when you teamed up with your students to protest against the decision to increase fees in the universities? You had the temerity to campaign for what you called the ‘democratisation of education’. You said the new measure would make it difficult for the children of peasants to access university education. Peasants! Do you think university education is like candy that should be distributed to all children regardless of economic means?
What became of ‘Ali-Mun-Go’? What happened to your alliance with students and the working class? You are paid to teach certain things but, as a military ruler once said, you were teaching what you were not paid to teach. Where in the world is that tolerated?
Look here, let me educate you. We can do without you. Indeed we can close all universities and the world will not come to an end. Can’t you see how irrelevant you are — going on strike for eight months and the world did not come to an end? I have news for you: no matter what you do, the sun will still rise from the East and set in the West tomorrow and forever. You’re inconsequential!
You talk of intellect. The graveyards are full of the bones of yesterday’s intellectuals. What is the result of all their pontification? Nations don’t need intellectuals. Nations need patriots like us. We are divinely ordained, whether that is clear to you or not. That is why you have no right to question your employer. He who hires has the power to fire. Never forget that.
What is so special about universities? Is a vice-chancellor not a senior headmaster? Are lectures not another name for class lessons? Are lecturers not mere teachers? You want to pull your wool over the eyes of those who haven’t understood your game. But you can’t fool me. I am Government. I don’t only know the game; I am the game!
When I told you that I would put holes in your pockets if you didn’t fold your tails and return to classes, you thought it was a bluff. Now, you’re screaming against the half salary you were paid. Don’t you know basic arithmetic? Eight months minus seven-and-a-half months of strike equals two weeks pay.
You claim you are not daily paid workers. I have news for you: henceforth, you’re casual labourers. Okay, I concede that you’re intellectual labourers, but a labourer is a labourer. This your elitist insistence on being treated differently from manual labourers is against your egalitarian philosophy. Can’t you see the contradiction?
And contradiction is not your only problem. You and your ilk are also alarmists.
When batches upon batches of our doctors and other medical professionals were emigrating abroad in droves, you said the country was losing critically needed manpower. Liars! Any fool can see that we have more than enough doctors to take care of our population which, by the way, is only 200 million.
Thank heavens, you can’t use any esoteric language to fool me because I am privileged to also be a certified and certificated physician. You should have asked me before going to make a fool of yourself before the world. I repeat: We have more medical professionals than we need. Anyone who wants to emigrate is welcome to go.
I know it was your clandestine effort that made some online media publish some nonsensical statistics concerning this country. “Given the fact that there are only 24,000 doctors available, the current doctor-patient ratio is 1:9,083, a stark contrast with WHO’s recommendation of one doctor to 600 patients. With 218 million people to cater for, Nigeria requires at least 363,000 additional doctors to meet this target.”
I hope you will eat your statistics to augment the hunger caused by your half salary. You talk of research as if there’s anything special about it. How long did it take you and your colleagues to realise that Mungo Park did not discover River Niger? Research! What have you invented since the University of Ibadan was established?
Go and do proper research and you’ll find that government predates universities. There were political leaders before professors came to be. Reserve all those arguments and disputations for your staff clubs where you people retire every evening to swap rumours.
I suspect you must be behind the rumour that Nigerians spent $11.6 billion on foreign education in the last three years. Even if it is true, isn’t it a credit to us that our people can afford to spend that kind of money to educate their children abroad? And aren’t you the cause of the mass exodus, when you declare a strike action in pursuit of an old agreement?
I concede that you are the brains behind the conceptualisation of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND. But, so what! In your naivety, you thought that the authorities would simply devote all the proceeds to tertiary education. I will educate you. When big money enters a parastatal, trusted boys and girls are posted there to protect the cream. If you don’t like the system, drop your chalk and contest for a seat at the local government and let’s see if you will survive.
I have counselled you to stop griping. Instead, look on the brighter side. For every seeming problem, there is a silver lining. No less a personage than a clergyman recently shared the wisdom that lack of potable water has empowered borehole owners and water merchants; lack of power supply has created the generator industry; failure of public education has created private institutions and the “abroad-ians”; lack of security has created the new fad of armoured vehicles.
And, whether it is apparent to you or not, the fact that people like us are role models is inspiring the young ones to look forward to taking over from us. It is part of the hard work we inherited that we must show the younger generation the way before people like you mislead them. ‘A Luta’ my foot!
I know you won’t believe this, but then what do you really believe in apart from the meaningless phrases you parrot all over your campuses ? The steering wheel of life is not controlled by passengers like you. If you’re not in government, you’re in the spectators’ gallery. You cannot change the world.
It may appear vexatious that miserable people are idolising those responsible for their misery; that people that cannot travel to their villages because of bad roads and kidnappers are now campaigning for those who refused to fix the problem; that people who can no longer afford the exorbitant price of petrol are supporting those stealing our crude and refusing to build refineries; that some youths support the leaders that ordered the killing of their own fellow youths; that the homeless are in love with the same people that made them jobless and homeless…
You can hit your head against the wall as you like. The wall will not shake. And if you break your head, they will troop out in academic gowns and mount a great procession to feed you to the womb of the earth…
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Perhaps you got flattered when the Speaker intervened. The Speaker may be number four in the pecking order, but he is not a minister, you see? He does not understand that you people are mere labourers and that you need somebody like me who is a master of Labour to straighten you out. Now where has his intervention led you?
I am Government. This regime is lucky to have me. I hold the knife and the yam. I will cut it wherever I choose. And there is nothing you can do. As I told you before, the only time I agreed with the famed music genius was in the title of one of his songs which I now recommend to you: Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense!
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