SIR: It is now over five months since the Academic and Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on their latest strike. The lecturers’ pay was also consequently suspended. Our children have been at home since that February 2022. Some invariably, though inexcusably have been involved in different vices. As it is said, an idle mind is the devil’s messenger. We parents and guardians have equally been suffering too, always daily praying and hoping for the strike to be called-off, so that our children can return to the classrooms. And the worst casualty? The dreams and future of these children and the progress and development of our only country, Nigeria.
Do the parties involved in this face-off appreciate the harm being done to our children’s future and to the growth and development of our dear country, Nigeria? If they do, this imbroglio would not have been allowed to linger for over five months. Where do the children and wards of these powers-that-be-school? Are they in these universities? Or are they in private universities which only the rich can afford? Or are they in foreign universities? Is this why they seem not to be bothered? Because if their children school in these affected government universities, their children would equally have been at home. They will be there in the morning when they wake-up, and there at night when they go to bed, and I make bold to say that the affected authorities would have taken positive actions to end the strike early.
The standard of our education keep falling. None of our plethora of universities is ranked within 1,000 best in the world. Our graduates are said to be unemployable. Employers now prefer foreign trained graduates, to our own. In the past, students from many African countries and some other climes proudly seek admission in our universities. But now the reverse is the case.
The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) and its members are the grass that suffer when the two elephants (Federal Government and ASUU) fight. Have they carried out enough agitation to show that they are unhappy with the prolonged strike? Methinks otherwise. True, they have visited the National Assembly, demonstrated at Abuja and in one of the South-West states but the number of students that participated are minuscule. They have not mounted enough pressures on the government to take action to resolve the impasse which has kept them at home, instead of their campuses.
In essence, ASUU is really concerned with job fulfillment that is producing quality graduates that will hold their head high anywhere in the world. If the government attaches any importance to education they should meet their demands.
The Federal Government should care about the image it is projecting, both at home and to the international community. Education is so vital and indispensable to every country that no serious government toys with the education of its citizens. Let our children go back to their classrooms!
Anene Umennaka, a lawyer and president, Friends of the Sick International.