So, I’ve been thinking for a while about the government’s dispute with ASUU, which has resulted in the closure of Nigerian universities for more than 6 months. This is not new though, any Nigerian university graduate would have had their fair share of the ‘ritual feast’ called the ASUU strike.
What exactly is the problem with Nigeria’s education sector and why does ASUU like to keep students at home to engage in a very long back and forth with the government? The reason is simple, the rate of double standards and lip service our government pays to the education sector is worrying.
Successive governments are more likely to achieve a cheap policy goal by not allowing universities to hike tuition and promise heaven and hell to the academic body, only to shift the responsibility to the next government. There is indeed a lack of sincere people in government in Nigeria. People who recognize the problem holistically and come directly to practical solutions.
Interestingly, some leaders who are passionate about the country’s education sector and patriotic enough to get the facts straight have suggested that children and wards of public officials, from the president to members of the National Assembly, governors and even city councilors at the local government level, should all study in Nigeria.
To support this idea, I would like to add that civil servants’ children should also be included in this category, since their parents run the public sector, they should be left behind to enjoy it. This is the example of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, located in the Sunshine State.
Unfortunately, our leaders, who only pretend to care about the public sector and the children of the masses who attend these public institutions, will not stick to all such arrangements.
The House of Representatives recently rejected a bill that would regulate how civil servants’ children enroll in schools outside Nigeria’s coasts.
The law is titled “A Bill to Regulate International Studies for the Wards and Children of Nigerian Officials, to Strengthen Indigenous Institutions, to Provide Efficient Educational Services for National Development; and for related matters.’
That was the second time in four years that lawmakers rejected the bill, which was supported by a member of the House of Representatives, Hon Sergius Ogun of Edo State.
While chairing the second-reading debate on the law, Ogun noted that the proposal would strengthen indigenous educational institutions to meet global standards; stimulate the economy by reducing cash flight and foreign exchange; Reducing brain drain and creating good welfare conditions for Aboriginal academics, experts and professionals based abroad to enable them to return home and further develop their country with their skills and expertise.
Lawmakers added that by developing impressive educational institutions, they would build a better society; and facilitating the attainment of the fundamental aims and policies of the State as enshrined in Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Cap C23, LFN, 2004.
“This bill is proposed against a backdrop of declining standards in our education system and the need to revamp the sector with the world’s best standards. Unfortunately, due to the government’s inability to provide quality education in its public educational institutions, Nigerians have resorted to private schools and overseas schools for their education.
“The United Kingdom, United States of America, Ukraine, Ghana, Malaysia, Egypt and South Africa, to name a few, have become prime destinations for Nigerians in search of quality education.”
Ogun is not alone in this demand, a member of Niger State’s 8th House of Representatives, Hon Abubarkar Chika Adamu, had described the incessant ASUU strike and the general decline in the public education sector as a moral burden on Nigerian leaders. Chika, who boasted about turning down a 40 per cent scholarship for his daughter to attend a private university in Nigeria, insisted that those charged with politics for the common good should not have their children abroad while the Children of the masses bear the brunt of bad politics.
The question is how many people in government have wards in public universities? Does that mean they all don’t believe in the system they administer? Then why do we blame ASUU?
I stand with ASUU on this issue, all the evidence pointing to rot in our universities abounds, no Nigerian university ranks in the 1st 50 in the world; our universities are not research-driven and have not solved any problems in recent decades. It’s so bad that employers of workers are now complaining about disabled graduates. A graduate who is unable to create jobs and is unable to work has managed to waste time and resources, including government subsidies, on his university education. We all know this, we shouldn’t just pretend to give ASUU a bad name.
My greatest amusement in all of this is that a national student leader who couldn’t tell the difference between quack and crack condemned ASUU, what a low! The government should focus on purging the national student body and returning leadership of the NANs to the universities so real students can take the lead, rather than toying with the idea of breaking the ranks of ASUU. ASUU isn’t the problem, government is.