by Usman Alabi
I recall listening to a radio program where a caller called in and was told that ASUU would be going on a warning strike, the caller thrilled everyone to laughter with his reply, which was, “e don tailoooooo”.He was assuming that it’s been long ASUU went on strike!
Such kind of response is perhaps peculiar to Nigeria, where workers would have to go on strike before their request is considered. It is obvious that if ASUU decides to keep quiet on the much talked about 2009 agreement, the state would not do anything about it, of course I should have known that we are in a country of unending dramas where the state demands from it citizen what even her is unable to give.
This is a country of unending Aluta, for if you do not shout or engage in a struggle, you are likely to be forgotten, we live and dwell in struggle, and our greatest plague itself is struggle irrespective of the cause, except if you do not consider Boko Haram activities, Niger delta crisis, the recently introduced Shiite disturbance and many others as such; remember that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. If it is not the resident doctors, it is NUPENG, ASUP, Tanker drivers and so on.
The question is why we have not gotten it right after several years, why would the government not pick one sector or an issue, find a lasting solution to their problem and save us from the inconvenience of their Aluta. It is ASUU today, Perhaps it could be the federal government itself tomorrow
Many of us have been misled to demonize ASUU whenever they decide to go on strike; a lot of us are even denuded to believe that their strike is always about salaries. But far from that, one very cogent question we should ask ourselves is that, are there real issues with our university education, the answer is yes; with this, we can understand the context of their struggle. And so it is pertinent for us to know that any vision of development that we have for the country is just a mere figment of imagination if we do not develop our educational sector and put an end to the shenanigan of ASUU strike.
I was stunned when in my sophomore year at University of Lagos, one of our Lecturers said, they are actually teaching us nothing and that we may not be able to compete with even Kenyan students!, In all sincerity, he was right.
We are damn at the end of the ladder when it comes to University education, yet a country cannot grow beyond its education system. We are not even talking about educational tourism or gotten to the level where the education sector can begin to generate revenue for us, going by last year’s record, Nigerian students in the United States alone contributed $324 million to her economy. Our universities are not citadel of research but rather centre of duplicity of knowledge bereft of fresh ideas.
The University system in the country is just opposite of what it is supposed to be, They basically operate as federal government property competing for scarce revenue like every government parastatal.
Hence, ASUU is condemned to fight for the future of education not for their salaries, because if they don’t, they are not different from secondary school teachers.
One wonders why the government is unable to implement the 2009 agreement, which basically has to do with condition of service, Academic freedom and university autonomy.
I suspect that the government is finding it difficult to implement the agreement. I really do not see anything complex about the agreement. As a matter of fact, it still does not meet up with international standard, because ASUU is not asking that the people should pay for education, ASUU is not asking that the Universities should stop receiving allocation thereby generating their revenue, so one wonder why it is difficult for the government to implement the agreement. In spite of their emphasis on condition of service, a local government chairman still earns more than a university professor.
It is high time government addressed this incessant strike once and for all, there is no problem in prioritizing education and making sure that it has the highest vote in the budget. The state already has too much to handle, maybe it’s time we consider giving the universities the much talked about autonomy and allow them to run their administration, even if the citizens would have to pay more.
If we must put an end to ASUU strike, stake holders in the sector would have to marshal a plan that might not be convenient for both parties but benefits the country as a whole in the long run, and both parties must be committed to making it work.
In spite of this, I suspect that we are yet to see the last of this issue because this is a country of unusual paradox and unending struggle