ASUU: Let The Truth Be Told

<strong>ASUU: Let The Truth Be Told</strong>

In a matter of days the lingering impasse between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the umbrella body of university lecturers would have entered its seventh month as the striking lecturers have stuck to their guns and urged the government to sign up its part of the bargain.

It is therefore uncertain the ivory towers would open their gates soon.

It is now fashionable to cripple our university system by allowing the lecturers to adopt the extreme measure of strike, given that in a decade, our universities have been shut for at least 11 times, making it an average of one in a year.

It is laughable that the universities which supposedly should produce our leaders of tomorrow are being ruined in favour of the very expensive, sub-standard mushrooming private universities. It is though not perfect to generalize that all private universities are below the mark and not sublime, but a good percentage have been reportedly ‘glorified’ secondary schools, lacking in form and content.

On another plank, we are losing so much patronage to foreign universities as some who can afford the cost send their wards abroad for further studies and among the pack of patrons is a large army of our politicians, businessmen and even top civil servants. It is therefore not unexpected that our political elite can afford to allow the public university system to collapse to the unmitigated point it has reached.

Before this onslaught by the ASUU, there had been complaints that grants expected for research were hardly available, even as decayed infrastructure, poor remuneration and unpaid allowances added to the suffocating working environment of the teachers.

In the most recent outrage from ASUU, the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige was accused by the lecturers as being insincere in negotiations with them, stressing that they have been dwelling on half-truths. Not much of the scope of their discussion filters to the President who in turn is limited by the quantity and quality of information that filters to him.

During the Eid-el Kabir celebration in Daura, his hometown days back, President Buhari who was cooling off there, told his ‘willing-to- hear’ audience, particularly his praise singers and cronies, that the government had done enough to enable ASSU return to work. He echoed his comments with more or less a threat to the ASUU with his now very touted “enough is enough” conclusion.   But his comments would only have amused the media practitioners who were listening to him because; they were abreast with the facts of the matter and knew enough that the government was yet to fulfill its part of the bargain.

Again, it is perplexing how we have our own house on fire, yet going all out to put off one in our neighbour’s apartment. That is exactly what is happening when we donate humongous sums to other nations’ causes. Such donations are ill-timed, given the critical issues facing our university system and sundry infrastructural deficit too obvious across the country. It is argued that some of these donations could have been postponed until we are able to adequately contain our unending national demands.

The Federal Government represented by the Labour and Education Ministries has been less than effective on the ASUU issue perhaps because efforts are geared towards winning elections come 2023, rather than thinking in that direction. It is not on its front burner. Politicking and the race for general elections have drowned several other issues of grave national importance. That is also dangerous.

It is important to remind our government and other stakeholders that it is not in the interest of anyone to continue to keep these university students out of their classrooms. It may just be akin to riding the back of a tiger with the ominous consequences waiting.

The government must devise a means to perpetually put in check these incessant strikes by the long-suffering lecturers whose demands are not out of place.

While it is important to do due diligence on the lecturers’ demands, keeping the issue this long does not show we are willing to propose a formidable public University system that would stand the test of time.

Something urgent needs to be done to salvage our universities in dire straits and the onus is on the government. 


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