It is generally believed that education is the best legacy, and while this may be true in most parts of the world, it certainly isn’t so here in Nigeria.  For about nine months, all nigeran tertiary institutions have been on lock and keys, not just because of the coronavirus pandemic but also as a result of a protracted industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The indefinite strike which began in March as a result of ASUU’s opposition to federal government’s controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) seem to have no end in sight despite several meetings between both parties. This has further left students who are at the receiving end of the crisis in a state of uncertainty and despair.

Months ago, during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic which took the world by storm, universities across the developed world were busy collaborating with scientist and researchers to speed up the cure finding process. However, Nigerian universities were enjoying their usual ‘holiday’, the customary ASUU strike hiatus. While institutions around the world decided that it was time to embrace online learning, Nigerian students were stuck at home doing what they must to survive another bout of a scuffle between ASUU and the Nigerian government. Without any doubt, there is no denying the fact that Nigeria’s educational sector is in disarray.

According to Nelson Mandela “It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education.” It is rather sad and disheartening that the Nigerian government and ASUU continue to consciously frustrate public education in Nigeria. Over the years, it has been the habit of government to starve the educational sector of crucial resources, while allotting extravagant budget to other frivolous activities. In addition, there have been a plethora of unfulfilled promises made by various administrations to ASUU. The failure of the federal government to fulfil these promises have created a vicious cycle of perennial industrial action in the educational sector.

On the other hand, it has become the habit of ASUU to always go on strike year in year out. Industrial actions by ASUU have more or less become an annual festivity. The unfortunate reality is that these lecturers who continue to complain of poor treatment by government are also the same instruments used by the political class to rig and manipulate elections, thereby giving corrupt politicians access to power. It is probably time for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rethink the idea of using university dons as top officials during election.

If the father of free education in Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo were to return from the grave, he would probably shed tears of disappointment at the dramatic deterioration of the Nigerian educational sector. It is vital to note that due to the level of poverty in the country, a large percentage of Nigeria’s population is unable to afford the high fees of private universities. Hence, the masses often look up to public universities for tertiary education. It is therefore appalling that these same tertiary institutions are in miserable conditions.

Many of the so-called prestigious universities in Nigeria today are heavily leaning on past glories, as they have become a ghost of their former self due to successive years of poor funding and incessant strikes. Also, lecturers who should be working on groundbreaking research have been mostly rendered redundant by reason of protracted industrial actions. On the other hand, students have had to get used to the reality of graduating much later than expected. In conclusion, the longer the strike persists, the more harm it does on the educational sector. The federal government and ASUU cannot continue to jeopardize the future of Nigerian youths. Both parties need to come to an agreement through compromise and consensus. The scuffle should not be allowed to carry on, there has to be an end and the earlier this is done, the better for all.

November 2020 Editorial
©Fatherland Gazette

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