ASUU Strike: While it bites, let’s save the futire

By: James Bwala

Until Nigerians move against the establishment of private educational institutions, the children of the poor will continue to suffer educational imbalance and injustice in the pursuit of their life’s expected goals. They will also continue to graduate above the age limits for employment and thereby making them only a tool for criminal opportunists occupying various spaces in political and administrative governance in Nigeria.

As the ASUU strike soars, I recalled my beginning from LEA Nasarawa to Baban Dodo and Bullumkutu Primary school in Kaduna and Borno states respectively. I have seen hundreds of my colleagues who enjoy the glory of public schools in government positions. Soon however, things have changed. Today, our children can no longer go to these public institutions. It was left for the children of the poor and no Nigerian is talking about it.

In my recent chat with concerned Nigerians, we chatted about the problem of the Nigerian University and how it started a long time ago. This was since the time of the emergence of private schools and Universities in the early 80s. This corruption was understated and austerely in our survival as a nation. Today, the University lecturers through its mouthpiece – ASUU are at it again.

But can we blame ASUU for the woe in our education system? Certainly not because we have a government so corrupt that allows the rise of private universities and neglects the public universities. After what could not be exhausted in their several meetings, ASUU have again gone back to the trenches. They have just reasoned it out after about twelve weeks and another journey for yet three months is counting. But who is actually bearing the impact of this ugly situation in our country?

While ASUU goes on strike, the rich and mighty Nigerians take their children out of the public institutions to continue their education in private Universities at home and abroad. Those who are now roaming the streets without any form of support are the children of the common man as they would always say. These children of the poor may have to wait until God have mercy. Maybe they will wait for this intervention until they are 35 or 40 years to earn their first degrees.

After such waiting and another one or two years of waiting to serve their fatherland, they will find themselves again struggling against themselves to secure employment, whose age limit was set between 20, 25 or at worst 30 years. In most cases they would be turned down and left to leave a frustrating life with no one to blame for their woe in life.

This rather deliberate short- changing of the masses who struggle to pay their way through the public university and to obtain a degree certificate in the Nigerian Public University remains the cross they have to carry for being Nigerians.

On the job market, they are too old to compete with young blood at 20 or 30 years. Those recruiters also are children of the high and mighty who go through the Universities without sweat and they never understood the context of the Nigerian labour market. They see these older graduates as lazy fellows who could not graduate in time while forgetting or if they care to know that their parents have been behind the soar life these unfortunate graduates have been carrying all the way to the recruitment table.

Big private Universities or overseas certification with young age at the detriment of millions of Nigerian youths forced by the selfishness and greed of our leaders to remain old in school before they are done with. And to enter the labour market with much grey hair or buy some lies of the devil to look young at all cost just to secure a living on government or again private organizations salary scales.

For some time now, I have been thinking about the ongoing ASUU Strike. I have also been thinking about its impact on the high and mighty Nigerians. Does it really affect them or their children? I was at the Base University in Abuja, I was also at Nile University, I visited Bingham University and I asked questions about Covenant University and quite a number of these private Universities. The questions I asked never gave me a reasonable answer to the solution of the ongoing ASUU Strike.

These additional three months will continue to put only the children of the poor behind the bars of lack of education. This delay will further add to their growing grey hairs. But no one seemed to take that to cognizance. We do not know what will happen at the end of the three months. Today, many undergraduates who gave up on education within the last 12 weeks of strike by ASUU are taking the next line of action. What they may turn out to be tomorrow is what we have made of them as a nation. I have also interviewed dozens recently, who are also thinking of going the same way. If they no longer have the appetite for schooling , some appetite may overwhelm their thinking and with the growing crime rate in Nigeria today, what are our leaders doing to save tomorrow?

For me perhaps, ASUU should begin to consider teaming up with the Nigerian masses, the labour Congress and all well-meaning individuals to press on the government to stop further decay on the system of education in this country. My recommendation is for Nigerians who want the good of the public institution to rise up by shutting down all private schools and Universities in the country.

This may help our leaders to wake up from their slumber because their children’s education is at risk. If Nigerians want to get the listening ears of their leaders there is the need to bite it while they sleep. So long as the private schools and private Universities are comfortably in session the continued decay in public schools and Universities will continue to linger and the more the danger ahead for the country.

For now, no one seems to care about the future of the children of the poor. The system has been made tough for the child of a peasant. It is no longer news that the privatization of our primary and secondary schools has crippled the educational standard at that level. Now they are moving to ensure the same fate for the government Universities. Unfortunately it is the same people in government that are being used by greedy and corrupt citizens to bring down the public institutions at the detriments of the children of the poor.

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