It is not a new occurrence for a typical Nigerian to notice that the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, ASUU, and the federal government of Nigeria are always at loggerheads. They seem to have an unending rift which usually occurs at different points in time.
Recently the academic staff union of Universities, ASUU has condemned the federal government regarding the way it handled their negotiation. They disclosed that the FG has been nonchalant on their demands regarding the strike.
Last week, the minister of Labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who was featured as a guest on Channels Television’s “Politics Today”, disclosed that he told the union to meet with the Benimi Briggs committee stating that the decision to suspend the industrial strike action embarked upon by ASUU could only be taken by the union. He was asked when the issue will be resolved, and he disclosed that it depends on ASUU.
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He stated that the ball is in their court and they should go and meet the Benimi Briggs committee and observe closely what the committee is doing to make further inputs so that the work can be accelerated. Displeased with the remarks made by the Minister, the President of ASUU Prof. Emmanuel Osideke while in an interview disclosed that it was indeed shameful for Chris Ngige to tell the union to go and liaise with another party other than the government.
He further added that the union might have no choice but to roll over the strike after its expiration. It is disheartening that the federal government continues to toil with the future of young Nigerians. Their nonchalant nature reeks of incompetence, which shows that they are not bothered about the strike action embarked upon by ASUU.
The government continues to disclose that it cannot meet up with ASUU’s demand due to a lack of funds, yet at the beginning of the year, it was disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari donated a whopping $1 million to Afghanistan, yet the educational sector in Nigeria is poorly funded. Such a crass display is nothing but a misplaced priority.
One thing the government fails to understand is that education plays a very big role in nation-building. The fundamental value of education extends beyond individuals, as it is also for the good of the nation. A nation cannot be built without quality education, because if you observe closely developing and developed countries, you will notice that their educational sector is properly funded.
When citizens are properly groomed in schools with adequate resources, they will in turn contribute what they have learned/acquired towards the growth of the nation. Rather than develop the educational sector in Nigeria, the leaders will choose to send their children overseas to get a quality education.
The past and ruling government’s overbearing negligence to fund the educational sector has led to the continued poor standard of education in the country. These incessant strike action has made some passionate Nigerian students who had a great passion for learning to lose interest in their education which has taken an adverse effect on their grades.
I am still perplexed as to why the government has relegated the educational sector to the back, with the sector receiving a very low amount of allocation. Recall that in 2019, for the election, the federal government doled out a whopping 143 billion naira with ease to INEC for an exercise that lasted only a few days. But when it comes to education, they find it hard to find the sector that would enlighten its citizens which will in turn bring about development in the society.