ASUU vs FG: War To The End Of All Wars

The current face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities – and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics before it – and the Federal Government is not different from the prospective biblical Armageddon.

According to the Oxford International Student Edition dictionary, Armageddon is the war between good and evil at the end of the world; a terrible war that could destroy the world.

What is it that could destroy the world of Nigerian students more than the “clash of the titans” that alarmingly occurs too frequently between the Federal Government and ASUU and its polytechnic counterparts?

The best any government can do for its youths is to invest in their education, by continuously providing a conducive environment for learning,appropriate funding, equipping the institutions with the needed facilities to boost academic standard and to make education an attractive and productive sector. Sadly enough, the Federal Government has paid only lip service to education from time immemorial. The best we have had has been frequent promises that have never been fulfilled. Promise and fail will not help build a true 21st century institution that can compete side by side with other universities and colleges across the world.

To produce students who are worthy in character and excellent in learning and service to humanity, there is the need for proper and continuous funding of Nigerian educational institutions, creation of laboratories and functional research centres, provision of well-equipped libraries; standard, modern and adequate lecture theatres and other needed facilities that will help produce students that will be fit for their respective sectors.

What happens instead is that students are left to bear the brunt of government’s indifference and their lecturers’ insistence on the “right thing”. The hope of the students to meet the set targets for their future isdestroyed as two, four, five, six-year courses are extended beyond their normal duration, adding nothing to the course outlines but instead damaging the positive mental attitude that is needed by a student to stay focused while at the same time wasting their time and jeopardising their future – the future of the much-touted tomorrow’s leaders.

Apart from the elongation of study duration, the strikes also render undergraduates idle at home, causing some to venture into all forms of immoral acts, crimes and social vices. Like the adage says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

Regrettably however, Nigerian students are ignorant of one fact: that basically what ASUU and ASUP are fighting for is to improve the standard of education in Nigeria, and that if the universities and polytechnics suspend their strikes without the Federal Government granting the demands of ASUU or ASUP, it is highly likely that in the next few months, we will be back in the same predicament.

There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. ASUU and ASUP have been efficient in embarking on incessant strikes but the strikes have not being effective in getting the needed results from government. The solution therein is that students should try to understand the very essence of the strikes and join the unions’ protest; ask the Federal Government to grant their demands so as to build a new standard for our institutions so that the institutions can produce students that will break existing records at all level of human endeavours.

Although some say ASUU’s demands and insistence on strikes are “selfish”, the fact is that if the universities are properly funded, university managements will not hike tuition fees as a way to get more funds to execute projects. If the universities are properly funded, there will be adequate lecture theatres among other needed facilities.
Presently, acrossmany government institutions, about 5000 students crowd themselves in lecture rooms during lecture periods as the lecture rooms are too small and not enough; the result is that lecture rooms become stuffy and it is the students that suffer the most. A class meant for 60 students is occupied by 120-150 students, which is against standard. Everyone complains that Nigerian universities produce half-baked and unemployable graduates, but if universities are properly funded, there will be enough and sufficient practical materials, there will be functional research centres which will produce wholly-cooked products with the relevant basic skill-sets.

If their retirement age is extended, as required, universities will have enough time to enjoy competent and brilliant lecturers and professors whohave spent their time in research and practicals. They have spent years in acquiring knowledge: let them have enough time to exercise and use them.Of what use is a professor who has acquired the best of knowledge in his field but has only five years to impart such, when it took him twice of that to gather?

Maybe, we should ask why citizens of other countries do not come to Nigeria to study. The fact is that the standard is bad and the facilities are not in place.

The road to success is never easy; there will always be bumps and lumps on the way. Robert Schuller said tough time never lasts but tough people do.

When two elephant fights, the grasses suffer. The end of the war between the elephants will come when the grasses understand their placeand importance to their growth and well-being and stop. If the elephants have nothing to eat, there will be no strength to fight.

The end of the face-off between ASUU-ASUP and Federal Government willcome when students join the cause because it is to reform the education sector; and when the education sector is reformed, students will be better for it. No matter how long it will take, let us fight for what is needed to have a better education.

It hurts to know that an agreement which has been reached four years ago is the bone of contention today.
If only ASUU and all other trade unions can speak with one voice while thestudents join them to make the strike more effective, then will the Armageddon end once and for all.
Only a stupid cock will believe the dawn will not come if he doesn’t crow.

VNTI ASUU

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