By Kunle Oyatomi
For several weeks on, all government-owned universities have been shut as a result of the â€œAcademic Staff being on strike. Things have been this way for decades now. Yet we have still not devised an effective method to manage the crisis.
The Federal Government at all times have tried to impress it on ASUU that its position on the matter is right. ASUU on the other hand insists that if this were so, the educational system in Nigeria, and the delapidated infrastructure of educational institutions would not have happened in the first place. So, who is correct?
Unfortunately, things cannot be going steadily wrong in the nationâ€™s educational infrastructure without either or both of the parties to this crisis being largely responsible. It would appear that the main problem in addressing this crisis is the question of interest.
If in over 30 years, the University lecturers have been going on strike basically because they see the system collapsing as a result of neglect, then they appear totally justified to seek redress.
It is primarily in their interest that a vibrant educational system should be in place otherwise they would sooner or later be jobless. But even that is not the critical issue. What is at stake about this face off is the future of millions of future generations of Nigerian children whose life are being jeopardized through the action of both government and the lecturers.
But really where does the onus of accountability lie? This is the crux of the matter. The onus of ensuring that a vibrant, progressive educational system (especially at the tertiary level) thrives in Nigeria is that of the federal government. So if in the last 30 years we have witnessed such confounding deterioration in our educational system, then the federal government should be squarely held accountable for the failure.
Certainly it was not and still isnâ€™t the responsibility of ASUU to fashion education policies in the country. That is the governmentâ€™s prerogative. However since it appears that education is not on the priority list of government, no serious attention has been paid to that sector.
And what any intelligent observer canÂ readÂ into this attitude of government is, either the policy-makers are tragically ignorant of the importance of education to a nationâ€™s development in the modern world, or there is a deliberate policy thrust to limit education to the few who can afford it!!
I find it absolutely incomprehensible to believe that we lackÂ the manpower to fashion a respectable and internationally acceptable education policy in Nigeria. What appears true in the circumstances is that certain elements within government and outside Nigeria are uncomfortable with the idea of having a vibrant, educated and progressive populace that can successfully stem the selfishness of the powerful elite who are increasingly showing signs of dealing with the rest of the population as if they should remain slaves to their rulership.
Otherwise how come the government or better still the ruling elite are so keen on giving the best of the best education to their children overseas, and would do nothing to give the children of the poor similar opportunity at home at least?
Until we can find an answer to this question, we will be missing the point trying to blame ASUU for their position on this matter. Those who want ASUU to return first to classes without securing guarantees that government attitude towards funding education will fundamentally change are not helping matters at all.
First, ASUU must get this guarantee before it returns to classes. Secondly, the government must show more sense of responsibility about taking education seriously.
No country can progress if the mass of its population is either illiterate or halfÂ educated. All countries of the world that have made significant progress in modern times are those that have invested massively on educating its teaming population. It is only slave masters or a dim witted elite that pays low premium on education for the mass of their people.
It would appear that this is the bane of the educational collapse in Nigeria. Until the government can think again and prioritize education in its funding schedule, the strike phenomenon in the country will be a recoring decimal.
Ultimately it is virtually in nobodyâ€™s interest, except those who want to make pathetic slaves of our children to theirs.