The Age Long ASUU and Federal Government “Fiasco” By Babatunde Adediran
Permit me to start this opinion by saying the fight is not over yet. It is a war that might never be won by any of the principal parties involved. Yet I can only mildly say that the Nigeria society, students and parents are the benefactor of this gross misconduct from the war-warriors.
Yes! The principal parties involved are war-warriors. At least that is the “lest” they deserve for so many years of continuous war that has transcend from one generation to another. It is only fair to christen them just as noting is fair in their war.
A bit of history can help us understand what has transpired over decades of years in our today rotten educational system. The fight for the survival of the ivory tower education of our nation has been fought years long before some of us were born. But the closet to my memory was when the present Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Attahiru Jega was the president of Academic Staff union of University (ASUU) during the Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda (IBB) military junta.
It is noteworthy to say that the genesis of the colossal end of our once precious educational system originated during the IBB military junta (I will love to be proven wrong). IBB systematically took away the nutrients in our educational system because most of the people against his government were from the academic circle. He saw the ivory towers as a threat to his continuous military government and depriving the institute funding was his best way of shutting them up.
So over the years from one Head of State to Presidents and former lecturers cum ASUU members now President, the war between the warriors has continued without any long lasting solution in sight. Almost same demands has been made and rejected or partially accepted by the two parties.
My concern is the approach that has been employed by the two parties over the years. This approach defined what is today known as 21st century insanity. The abilities to do same thing in the same way at all times and expecting a different result. I jokingly told a friend recently that “many people are many but only few roam the street”. As at that time, the thought of using the same quote for my lecturers and government did not enter my mind. But now, I wish I can define their approach in the same light of insane but not roaming the street.
Why the major cause of this fiasco is Education funding by the government as alleged by ASUU, a bothering question that often comes to mind is how come all stakeholders in the educational sector has never “fought” tooth for tooth whenever the national budget is been prepared and presented? Presently, education sector takes about 9 per cent of the National Budget.
If we compare our national budget on education with some African nations, then we might understand this Barack Obama’s quote on education; “any nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow” in the “glocal” (global + local) market. A quick look at some at: Botswana spends 19.0 %; Swaziland, 24.6%; Lesotho, 17.0; South Africa, 25.8%; Cote d’Ivoire, 30.0%; Burkina Faso, 16.8%; Ghana, 31%; Kenya, 23.0%; Uganda, 27.0; Tunisia, 17.0%; and, Morocco, 17.7%. Nigeria with a population of +/- 170million with over 40 million that are of school age but not in school (UNICEF) and with 2nd highest illiteracy rate in the world should commit more to educational funding than what she is presently doing. Without immediate action, I can confidently conclude that “ours is disaster happening and not waiting to happen”.
While the government can argue that educational sector takes the second largest per cent in the National Budget, it will be a faulty argument considering the resources available and the waste called “cost of governance” in the nation. While Borno is a hotbed for terrorism in the nation today, it is not far-fetch to say 72 per cent of primary age children never attend school (US Embassy, Nigeria). Lack of basic education (or nomadic education) in some northern part of the nation is one of the reason poverty, terrorism and extremism has bred easily in the region.
In this long war I have also being a victim of the two gladiators and it absolutely unfortunate and sad that neither Federal Government nor Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) deem it fit to approach this war from another angle in order to find a lasting peace or solution to this repeated fiasco.
The fight in not over yet!
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