By Mahmud Yahaya
During my pupilage in primary school, I could remember a song which we often sang while in assembly. Even though as at that time, I could not sing the song well but, I was able to grasp the core message that ‘children are the leaders of tomorrow’. My thought was the future was for all, unbeknown to me the future is not for the child of the common man. Unfortunately, with this current democratic dispensation, the saying is incongruent with reality.
If at all the child of the common man has future to lead tomorrow, today, the future is seized by the Federal government and the ASUU. Considering the lackadaisical approach of our leaders when it comes to tertiary institution, it is obvious they care little; this is because their children don’t attend public schools and tertiary institutions. They send their children abroad to expensive, luxurious and crème de la crème universities where those schools dare not to go on strike. They acquire quality knowledge from renowned teachers and professors so that when back home, they would be deemed fit for big governmental position political appointments.
The incessant ASUU strike has prompted those from the middle class who cannot cope with the strike sought an alternative by sending their children to Cotonou, Benin Republic, Uganda among others where within two years or less and one would graduate and be issued a certificate equivalent to that of Nigeria. Those who cannot afford are at the mercy of ASUU and the Federal government. Not to talk of the painstaking process one has to go through and connections one has to establish to secure admission in the Nigerian public universities. If your child is able to secure admission the whole community would be seeing you as someone lucky, instead of someone deserving.
This is not the first time ASUU is embarking on strike to air its grievances to the Federal government, in fact, it is the neither the second nor the third but, could be said to be one of the longest strikes embarked by the union. This one is about eight months and academic activities in public universities have been suspended ever since. Students have been left to watch their future being suffocated at the hands of these two elephants.
I thought the Federal government would be proactive when approaching problems, looking at how the nation found itself in hullabaloo and pandemonium as a result of the ENDSARS protests. I am very sure government wouldn’t want to see END ASUU Strike. The students are fed up staying at home while their future is in your hands. They can’t have their counterparts progressing in neighbouring countries while they are caused to stagnate in their own. I am sure if our elitist politicians’ children are in public universities, the issue of ASUU strike would have been resolved since.
Although one should not apportion the blame only to the Federal government but, it will take the lion share of it. This is because, had federal government honoured the memorandum of understandings and other agreements reached, the strike wouldn’t have been as long as it is now. The ASUU is also no saint due to its notoriety in strike. ASUU and the Federal government should make a compromise and stop playing football with students’ future.
Some are of the opinion President Buhari never attended university, hence his nonchalance towards it. However, some of these agreements were entered by ASUU and the past administrations. Be it as it may, I don’t want to believe it as a reason, if political will exists. Students are tired of staying at home being the devil’s workshop. Government needs to end the strike now.
ASUU should not know that its notoriety when it comes to strike is giving it a bad name in the eye of the world. Perhaps, ASUU should re-strategise and adopt other means of airing their grievances if truly their struggle is for the improvement of public universities in Nigeria, because, more often students are at the receiving end of their recurrent strikes.
End ASUU strike now! Give us back our future!! So that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.
Mahmud Yahaya writes from the faculty of law. Bauchi State University, Gadau