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Eventually ASUU/FGN Faceoff Would End But For Wrong Reasons

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi

 Perhaps we have already over flogged the impasse between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) which has created one of the longest industrial actions yet besetting the education industry in Nigeria.  However the strike is not yet over and therefore individuals and groups with solutions to improve the education system in the country should not run away at this time. Sooner rather than later the strike that started on July 1, 2013 may end but with no winners. Every stakeholder in the system is a loser.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

The United States of America USA, whose constitution we had copied, is a unique country and a land of limitless opportunity in which individuals can go as far as their own merit takes them. The Nigeria education system, though earlier grew from the British system, has since also followed the USA in so many ways including the semester and curricula. What we fail to copy from the USA are the pillars that build their own just and egalitarian society. America uses the meritocracy system to build every segment of their society. According to this ideology, you get out of the system what you put into it. Getting ahead is therefore based on individual merit, which is generally viewed as a combination of factors including innate abilities, working hard, having the right attitude, and having high moral character and integrity. We strongly recommend that an enduring system should work that way.

We have faulted the Nigerian system in so many ways. It is not enough to get to a community and change the name of one of the colonial secondary schools to a University without bringing to bear inputs that grow and sustain the a University of the 21st century. These inputs essentially include the merits of the appointees, the curriculum and the standard of admitted students. The buildings and the other edifices are at the secondary layers just as the names of new universities are also less important. It would be recalled that in this long strike most of the Chancellors of Nigerian Federal and State Universities have remained silent. They probably don’t feel part of the system since their appointments were allocated not on merit but on favour and party affiliations. Similarly the parents and students are rather too silent because the strikes have become incessant and they are used to ASUU strikes.

Recently I saw on Prophet T B Joshua’s Emmanuel TV channel where the congregation and the Pastor Joshua himself were praying and forecasting opening of the universities in days. He was quite passionate about his prophecy to reopen the Universities, the plights of the students, and looking for money to fund the system perhaps were the priorities and focus of his congregation. A similar call went out from the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) earlier but which received a bad reaction from ASUU.  The Chairman of CAN actually may have thought that President Jonathan was the person ASUU was against. The agreement was signed while President Jonathan was a Vice President in 2009. Hence President Jonathan having been party to the initial agreement should not turn his back on the education system now. It is not the person of Dr Goodluck Jonathan that ASUU might be fighting. Of course, and in time, the whole strike may have degenerated to the level that some factions of ASUU going the way of their regional sponsor. We should not lose focus to develop a robust education system for our country nevertheless.

Education is the only area we think Nigeria can advance her course in the community of nations. In this competitive world everyone who wants to play a significant part and be reckoned with must move with the world and the business world moving at a very faster pace. Informed based decision is vital through up to date data gathering and correct analysis. Nevertheless and despite all the advancement in technology the only reliable and secure investment you can make is an investment in yourself. This is why we shall continue to advocate and campaign to the developing countries, especially Africans, to develop their educational systems and capture all age groups. Africa’s hope is in educating its workforce and citizens appropriately. This is the single factor that has shaped the future of Africans since independence and must not be abandoned now.

The strike was therefore not only in terms of neither billion of naira nor that academic staff being just short change in emoluments and conditions of service alone. The whole national focus and approach to the education industry has been wrong from the military regimes. We henceforth expect experts and persons who are ready to sacrifice to the education system as Chancellors and Vice Chancellors rather than traditional rulers and favoured individuals. The future of our youths is so vitally important that we should not risk appointments to run our education institutions. The strike was also not political even though ASUU may not have fine tuned their demands articulately enough. Nigeria has nothing else to hold on to should she lose this generation of youths to cultism, armed robbery and the like by failing to provide a sound moral and standard education.

 Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng


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