State of Education in Nigeria Versus ASUU and Federal GovernmentColumnists, Prof.R.A Ipinyomi Friday, September 20th, 2013
By Prof R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
The lecturers in most of the nation’s public universities commenced industrial action last July 1, 2013 to demand the implementation of the 2009 agreement they signed with Federal Government of Nigeria FGN. Most people would agree that universities are poorly funded but no one is coming up with a programme of action or a transformational agenda to resolve the funding or minimise the incessant strikes. I personally believe that strike as only weapon and used too often by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, may have lost its effect.
I would have preferred a situation whereby ASUU had pursued its case in the law court to seek to indict FG, the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, NUC Secretary and all others including the President. If these officers are finally indicted in law courts they could face impeachment and loss of their present position and future participation in public office. Having signed an agreement it must be honoured or seen not jettisoned. If the courts had indicted and asked FGN to honour its agreement with ASUU the case would have been stronger. In any case ASUU must pursue its courses with all the available norms but minimising damage to the system or to the students.
The demand of ASUU, the students and all stakeholders must be to improve the education sector. However continuous disruption of the academic calendar, which already constitutes to a perceived falling standard of education at all levels, can only be pointers to a bleak future for the current generation of Nigerians. Neither FG nor ASUU has anything to gain from the indication that what they produce is substandard.
The victims are the parents, governments, the system that lacks accountability, the students, everyone. Eventually some people may still get paid, no matter how little, for work not done because a government does not seem to care about agreements it signs off daily on our behalf (not on their personal affairs). They just may be, think everything is politics where no rules are kept. We can avoid much wastage in terms of labour and wages and also improve the dignity of our children who still have the country Nigeria much more than us. I was in Abuja on Monday September 16, 2013 and I saw many Uniabuja students blocking our way around Gwagwalada Uniabuja Mini Campus junction. They were becoming restless. University of Abuja students have had too many disturbances in their academic programmes apart from being in the expensive and federal capital environment. The factor of Federal has entered the Uniabuja system in all ramifications and sooner or later we may recommend relocating that University of Abaji or somewhere else, so that students and lecturers would be in a more conducive learning environment.
The students urged ASUU and the Federal Government to amicably address the issues that constitute the bone of contention in the overall interest of the students and the nation at large and to resolve the pitiable plight of the students at large. Most of the students were fed up with staying at home indefinitely and implored the two parties to explore all avenues to resolve the dispute amicably and immediately.
We reserve the right to blame FGN for all the crises in the education sector, including the incessant strikes. The ASUU is not making fresh demands but the implementation of what was already agreed since 2009 agreement. ASUU is on strike because FGN has failed to implement agreements they freely entered into and signed with union. This in itself is an incitement on government, that FGN does not honour agreements.
The FG can still redeem the situation and the atmosphere is ripe for it. The strike has been on for far too long. The so called N92 billion (USD 620 million) is only about 3 days earning from oil at 2 million barrels per day at USD 100 per barrel. The FG has just sacked some ministers including Minister of Education to provide FG a soft landing on this issue, whether or not the issues are related. The longer the issue lasts the more wastage and loss. Therefore the government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan must prove that it has some interest in the development of our youths, the plights of their lecturers in their classes and at their homes, and the overall standard of our national education.
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