By Ebun Babalola
For theÂ Â Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU (University of Lagos branch) Dr. Ayo Olowe,Â the state of the nation is worrisome andÂ needs urgent attention.
â€œWe cannot continue in this kind of condition especially in our tertiary institutions, where laboratories and facilities for qualitative education have become a total mess.
Our health institutions are poorly equipped and there areÂ notÂ enough facilities to train our children to becomeÂ good doctors.Â Yet, we have a government that is helpless.
This is the only country that I know in Africa that allocates just two percent of its budget to education despite UNESCO â€˜s standard agenda of 26 percent for education. The masses are suffering while the children of the rich and people at the helm ofÂ affairs of Nigeria are sending their children to other countries for qualitative education.
It is a shame.
â€œA time has come for the government of this country to take theÂ education of our youths seriously so that they can be useful to the society.
We donâ€™t want a situation where the country will remain stagnant. Nigerians should rise up to this and fight for the right and future of our children.â€
Expressing his dismay over the development, Prof. Lai Olurode, Department of Social Sciences, University of Lagos opinesÂ that â€œthe development of any country should be targeted towards the people but when there is a government that is not concerned about its people,Â such a government should be pardoned.
If government has demonstrated a measure of concern to reflect that it is experiencing a global economic crisis, it would not be going partying and celebrating birthdays and weddings with our money.
But, what is happening isÂ that Nigerian government has failed to realise that there is global economic meltdown andÂ thereforeÂ does not deserve any kind of sympathy from its people.
â€œThe essence of this strike is to enable government know that such attitude of irresponsibility is not what is expected in the country.
Anybody who feelsÂ he is not capable ofÂ leadingÂ the nation aright should as well vacate the seat for those who are willing to govern the masses in the right way.
â€œAnd for theÂ economic implication of this strike action, it is only the government that can answer that.
It is impossible for Nigerian government to come out and sayÂ it lacks funding and capacity when it is still producing close to 2 million barrels of oil per day when of course, a barrel of oil is soldÂ for about $140 before.
What is happening to those resources?Â Our funds are being syphoned by the people in government to cater for their wives and children and they are flaunting one project or the other with the money that was supposed to be used to cater for the masses.
â€œSo, if government is broke, it should begin to demonstrate that it is broke by acting ethically. All the people in government are in possession of all sorts of expensive cars whereas those who are serving their father land cannot boast of buying a fairly used car, that is too serious.
â€œIt is also shame for Nigeria to have been rejected by the world President, Barrack Obama because of her level of corruption and absolute insincerity. We are building churches and mosques, yet nothing is working.
â€œThe problem this country is facing is what is called bad leadership and anyone who feels he cannot govern should vacate the seat of government.
This is a country where a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria takes home about 2.3 million every month, while a member of the House of Representatives goes home with about 2 million without including other emoluments. Just last week, the Minister of Education celebrated his wedding anniversary andÂ flaunted millions of Nigerian money.
The same Minister stood up and told the people that he has no financial capacity to carry out what the teachers are requesting ofÂ himâ€.
Also speaking on the matter, Alogba Olukoya, Chairman Nigerian Labour Congress, Lagos State chapter states that the essence of the TuesdayÂ rally was to create the necessary awareness and to tell Nigerian government that Nigerians are not happy with the way things are running in the nation and at the same time, usedÂ the opportunity to make government see why they must honour the agreement.
According to him, if the government is not ready to sign the agreement, the strike action mightÂ develop into full scale war.
â€œIn 1995, Ken Saro Wiwa was hanged because of the problem in Niger Delta. People never saw reason to fight for themselves and now the same is happening today in our world to the extent that every government parastatal is embarking on strike. That is how bad the nation is.
Nigerian government should learn howÂ to solve problems withoutÂ acting with forceâ€.
The Coordinator ASUU, Ibadan Chapter,Â Prof. Akin Ajisegiri in his contribution insists that if this nation is serious about the vision 2020, â€œthen we must be serious about education.
I have been in this country for a very long time and I have watchedÂ this system degenerate up to this point. It has gotten to a situation that if a graduate from Nigeria travelsÂ out of the country for employment or any appointment, such graduate will be requested to take another examination.
In the past, it wasnâ€™t so. None of our universities in Nigeria is among the first six thousand in the world and we areÂ pretending that all is well with the system. Unless oneâ€™s parent is a senator or a political leader who would steal money, one canâ€™t have access to quality education. It is very badâ€.
Reacting to the attitude of government, the representative of the students ofÂ Obafemi Awolowo University andÂ National Coordinator, Education Right Campaign , Hassan Taiwo Soweto said
there is need for the Nigerian workers to form a task forceÂ where all students, workers are mobilised in the struggle to join NLC, TUC, LASCO and other trade unions to declare a one day general strike for effective resolution.
â€œOur leaders have successfully bastardised the future of Nigerian education and the youths in general. The issue of under funding as well as total collapse of the facilities on campuses has become a thing of concern.
When there isÂ genuine academic reform, good Nigerian students will not hesitate to support themâ€.
For him,Â strike is not the total answer,Â reason being that in the history ofÂ strikes, Nigerian government has been so deceptive in its response.
â€œThis strike is a struggle that has been on since 1992. Yet, government has not fulfilled any of the demands of either funding or giving qualitative service to its citizens. There is need to disengage theÂ Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s government.â€
For Dr. Olusegun Peters ofÂ Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, the implication of this strike is that, â€œall the patients in the hospital would be denied quality treatment which might cause them their lives.
I can tell you authoritatively that this strike is not limited to ASUU. It cuts across all the government parastatals and very soon Nigerian government would know that the battle has just started because if there is no solution to this problem, students in all tertiary institutions including the secondary schools would be mobilised to join in the struggle.
It is a pity that the government of Yarâ€™Adua who claims to be a former lecturer has suddenly become a dribbler, turning education around like a cuisine chair.
â€œSinceÂ last week Wednesday, doctors were on strike and the resultÂ is unpleasant. Patients are already dying. Those who were supposed to have undergone surgeryÂ could not and they have been discharged to various private hospitals where there areÂ no specialists.
â€œCurrently ,all sectors in the country is paralysed including the Power, Education, Health and other sectors, yet Yarâ€™Adua is silent about it.
Any government that is joking with the lives of its citizens shows that it has no sympathy for its people and therefore, it is a cruel government. And as for the nation, it will continue to suffer loss by the day.
It is a pity that Yarâ€™Adua and Jonathan who were once lecturers have suddenly forgotten theÂ importance of education in Nigeria.. As far as Iâ€™m concerned, this strike will have a negative effect on the growth of the nationâ€.
The Speaker ofÂ National Association of Science Students, NASS/LASU, Comrade Mukaila Wasiu, dismissedÂ the Education Minister, Sam Egwu, as a shame to the educational sector of this country.
â€œ He saidÂ he is not going to work on the agreement which was reached by the Gamaliel Onosode- led administration becauseÂ the agreement was put down by those who came before him but as long as he is a functionary ofÂ Â the government in the education sector, he should be able to implement whatever his predecessor has left behind.
So, all the students in Nigeria are calling for the resignation of the Minister of Education because he is not capable of handling that sectorâ€.
But Mrs Funke Olawale , a teacher isÂ pleading with the federal government toÂ listen to the Universities body.
â€œWe cannot afford private hospitals and Universities. What do they want us to do? Last week, my cousin was unable to be treated at the general hospital because the doctors were on strike.â€