Students Leaving The University For Their Homes After Yet Another ASUU Strike

“When you know better you do better.”
― Maya Angelou

It’s now being Six weeks since the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU went on an indefinite strike in protest of the Nigerian Government’s inability to fulfil the terms of an agreement that was reached between both parties in 2009.

The statement credited to the President of ASUU, Dr. Isa Faggae yesterday in which he announced the withdrawal of his team from further negotiations with government suggests a further digging-in into the trenches by the union till the government gives in to their demand, which they say is nothing new but rather an agitation for the implementation of a subsisting agreement which the government has reneged upon and thinking to renegotiate.

Strikes by the ASUU in Nigeria aren’t an uncommon phenomena, infact a student who’s just gained admission into any of Nigeria’s public universities stoically adds between a year or two more to her/his expected graduation date to accommodate the strikes, assuming (s)he’s academically sound and won’t fail and repeat classes.

The fact that the government employed (to perform the task of reaching the agreement with ASUU) a citizen of impeccable character in the person of Mr. Gamaliel Onosode to add some credibility to the agreement (as they’d done with Justice Uwais and Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who were also co-opted to clean government stables at one time or the other, only to have their reports and efforts rubbished and their reputation dented) didn’t eventually lead to much in terms of concretizing the agreement as it’s implementation had remained harduous since it was reached, and the strike of that year called off.

Most of those negotiating on the government side today (as with many government officials, politicians and elites), do not have their kids in any of the public tertiary institutions now on strike and hence do not feel the pains Nigerian parents whose wards now loiter about getting up to no good feel.

The stop-start-stop situation in Nigeria’s universities has contributed in no small measure to the dropping of Nigerian universities in the rankings of their peers worldwide, as well as (and more importantly) the fallen standard of education in Nigerian universities (and by extension the education sector).

It is pertinent to note that unlike other strikes before this, ASUU isn’t asking for anything new, and their demands this time appear to be all encompassing (not just about their remuneration or about just =N=92 Billion, as the finance minister Okonjo Iwealla would have us believe in her bid to blackmail ASUU and make them look bad before the masses), including adequate funding of universities, research grants and other sundry matters of which then remuneration forms a part (and again all of these have afore been agreed upon in 2009).

Most disgusting is the fact that while the impasse lingered, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyesom Wike was busy serving as arrowhead to the destabilization force in Rivers State with the intention of making it ungovernable for his former boss, by whose grace he got into the position he occupies today, leaving his immediate boss Professor Ruqqayat Ahmed Rufai to face the music alone.

Interestingly, unlike the other strikes called by ASUU where we are daily inundated by reports of influential and non-influential personae asking ASUU to call off their strike for the sake of the students, this time around ASUU’s being urged on by all concerned even the suffering students to persevere and not shift ground until their demands are met, to the chagrin of those on the government side despite all their efforts at blackmailing the striking lecturers.

The so called concession in which the federal government said they’ve released =N=30 Billion is grossly inadequate, and lodging the same funds with the National Universities Commission for onward disbursement to the universities is a slap on the face of ASUU.

It is the rot in the universities that has made foreign universities (including universities in Ghana and more recently in the Gambia) and private universities (owned by most of these politicians and super rich members of the clergy) the toast of Nigerians, that ASUU intends to remedy by calling this strike.

It is unfortunate that a government led by a former lecturer (for what it’s worth) will turn around to be the same one under which education fared the worst. It’s attempt to launder it’s image by citing the creation of 6 new universities under it’s watch is a ruse since universities aren’t made up of just buildings and infrastructure (which is not even up to par today when compared to infrastructure you’d find in first generation federal universities).

While this government is notorious for blowing billions of Naira away on the flimsiest of excuses, it hasn’t yet found it trite to meet the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO recommended budgetary allocation to Education of 26%, a figure one would’ve expected a nation with a literacy burden and gap to fill to be at par with the progressive rest of the world, should even exceed. Sadly, the current budgetary allocation stands at 8.67% of total budget, a far cry from the Standard.

Rather, everything must go into satisfying the gluttonous appetite of politicians and hang-abouts to the detriment of generations yet unborn.

They may have figured that it’ll be in their best interest to keep Nigerians especially students in a position or situation where they’ll know no better to ensure the perpetuation of their kind in power, which is at variance with what is obtainable in saner and more educated climes.

We can’t continue doing things the same way and expect a different result. Nigerian graduates will remain ‘half-baked’ until the necessary changes are initiated and implemented.

Sending children abroad hasn’t helped Nigeria’s situation, as though the foreign trained students get the elite positions in most or all the work places, they still have to work with their Nigerian trained counterparts who mostly become their subordinates and are unable to carry out instructions to the later, or even become bosses who for lack of the necessary exposure limit the potentials inherent in the foreign trained ones, bringing the nation back to square one, her knees.

Also, because foreign trained students lack the experience the country provides, their policies in government like we’ve seen with most ‘imported’ government officials, aren’t suited to our peculiar environment.

The failure of the so called been-to’s can be seen in the financial sector where at a point (till now) they held sway.

Without disregarding the positive impact students trained abroad have had on Nigeria,I make bold to say that Nigeria will still continue to grow at snail speed if the lot that’s graduated in her public tertiary institutions continue to school under present conditions.

The government will do well to heed ASUU’s call and satisfy their demands. They may however set benchmarks to monitor progress to ensure that monies released are judiciously put into result oriented academic activities.

I’ve always found laughable that Nigerian vision (as envisioned by her visionless rulers) of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020, the remote possibility of that alcohol-inspired vision will become unattainable far beyond that date if this strike isn’t resolved in ASUU’s favour.