ASUU Strike: A message to Nigerian Youths
It has been on the Nigerian news that the academic staff union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike since June 2013 over the inability of the Nigerian Government to keep to her promise. The federal Government of Nigeria does not seem to be ready to fulfill the promise despite the fact that education is vital for the development of any nation. The nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian government makes it lucid that she has no real interest in the well-being of the Nigerian youths.
Some people have asked ASUU to call off the strike and while ASUU insists that its demand be met this time, it seems the government wants to cut corners to see how the strike can be called off without fulfilling her promise. It is on news that series of meetings held between ASUU and the federal government to reach an agreement ended in deadlock. The most interesting aspect of the situation is that both parties have failed to understand who really suffers as a result of the strike. It is true that there is need to raise the standard of education in Nigeria and that is the mission of ASUU via the strike action. However, the persistent effort on the part of the Government to thwart such plans shows how much the Nigerian leadership values her citizens, especially the youths because education has to do with the development of the youths who are the future of any nation.
ASUU strike will not affect the earnings of the lecturers because they will be paid, in full, at the end of the strike. That is the lecturers will still get their monthly salary at the end of the strike else they embark on another strike. The Nigerian politicians have nothing to loss because most of them have sent their children abroad to study in the best universities or in private Universities in the country. This will show that both the Lecturers and the Politicians that have refused to upgrade the Nigerian educational system have nothing to lose if the strike continues. It is also alleged that the Government held a meeting with Vice Chancellors of the Nigerian Universities and promised them billions of naira so that they can force the Lecturers to return to lecture rooms. Therefore, if the claim is right then it is foolishness because they can add money to it and start fulfilling their promise.
It is obvious that the Nigerian Government is insensitive to the plight of the youths and the problems of the nation. The unrest in the Northern part of the country (Boko Haram activities) should have been enough reason for the Government to prevent the strike. This is because the youths need to be busy in their academics to avert the possibility of being used wrongly to further fuel the already sad situation in the country. It is the Nigerian youths that suffers as a result of the strike action. The civil servants even the men of the arm forces; that protect the politicians and guard the nation, work and labor so as to train their children in school. The strike will make it difficult for them to achieve their aims and objectives while students are forced to stay longer than necessary in school. Thereby, a student’s possible year of graduation is prolonged.
The former Minister of Education Dr. (Mrs.) Obiageri Ezekwesili made a speech on the 42nd convocation of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in which she challenged the youths to step up and fight for their rights. The Government would have reacted very fast if the strike action was by Nigerian labor congress. The inability of the government to end the strike as soon as possible shows how much interest it has in education, which is an important tool that shapes the mind of the people and enlightens a nation. The politicians cannot take the national cake and still fail to give the youths what the rightly deserve as Nigerian citizens. We do not know how long the Nigerian youths will keep quiet and suffer in silence but we know that everything has a beginning and no price is too much to be paid for the liberation of the youths. Therefore, it will be to the interest of all Nigerian that the youths get what the rightly deserve. This is because education is the only thing an average Nigerian youth can benefit from the government even though it is not free in most states. The writer believes that the government should learn to respect the needs of the youths because we are now in a rapidly changing world. The events in some countries have shown that nothing is impossible and that everything has a beginning. Consequently, one cannot tell how long the Nigerian youths will remain in hypnotic state. That is why to bring students back to school should be the priority of any reasonable Government.”