By Emmanuel Elebeke
Former Vice -Chancellor of University of Lagos, Professor Ibidapo-Obe has describedÂ Â the on going strike action by theÂ Academic Staff Union of Universities asÂ irrational which falls short ofÂ soundÂ reasoning.
Professor Obe spoke at a lecture entitled â€œDeveloping an Ideal IT Policy Framework for Developing Economyâ€ during the Nigerian IT and Telecom exhibition organized by publishers of Telecomnews in Lagos.
According to Obe, the continued use of strike action by ASUUÂ to press home itsÂ legitimate demand from the federal government is no longer fashionable and needs to be reexamined as it has become old fashioned,Â unnecessary and which can no longer serve the intended purpose.
Professor Obe,Â who traced the origin of ASUU strike in NigeriaÂ to 1972, lamented the devastating impact of strike on the Nigerian students, sayingÂ that the damages were better imagined than experienced.
He wondered why strike would be the only option left for ASUUÂ to press home their demand rather than exploitingÂ other options that would not have a damaging effect on theÂ society.
He regretted that so many University students have become redundant due to the various strike actions embarked upon by ASUU. This he said damages the public perception ofÂ University teachers and eventuallyÂ turns out toÂ be an albatross to them..
â€œI do not believe in strike as a tool to solving problems. It creates a disconnect within the students and damages public perception about teachers.
â€œFrom myÂ calculation, if the current strike action by ASUU is extended a little further from now, it would mean that ASUU had gone on strike for complete four years between 1999 and 2009 only,Â without looking back at the resultant effects on the students who are our future leaders.â€ Obe said adding that the situation does not mean well for the Nigerian education system..
Continuing, he said, â€œI do not believe in strike as a tool forÂ solving problems. It creates a disconnect within the students and damages public perception about teachers and turns out later to be an albatross to them. I donâ€™t think strike is the only viable option left for ASUU to press home its demand.
There are manyÂ other options left for it to exploit, such as sponsoringÂ mass movement or waging a press war on the government, rather than sending the students home to waste away.â€ Obe said.
Speaking further, the former UNILAGÂ bossÂ urged both parties involved in the rift to shield their swordÂ and listen to voice of reasoning in a bid to settling the matter amicably so as toÂ save the education system from collapse, just as he blamed the continued disagreement between ASUU and the government in the country on misplacement of priority, pointing out that unless a clear road map is put in place in the education sector, there can never be a meaningful development in the country.
â€œWe are where we are today because we refused to get our priorities right on education. If we can put education system in order in this country for once, we can indeed achieve premium objective. Countries like Finland, Turkey, Korea were well behind Nigeria in the 1970s but have now overtaken us because theyÂ leveraged on the advantage of technologyÂ education and leapfroggedÂ from developing status to world giants.â€
He therefore challenged youths in Nigeria to change theirÂ orientationÂ and channel their resources towards self-development andÂ think on the line of knowledge-driven economy where they could maximizeÂ their potentials.
â€œTo getÂ there, we need to change our way ofÂ thinking and sense of direction. What we have to do is to divert the knowledge of the yahoo yahoo boys to positive knowledge. Technology can benefitÂ us only when we use it to transform our negative knowledge to positive.
He said: â€œstrike cannotÂ help us. It is a negative tool and a negative tool can not achieve a positive outcome in the long run. And because ASUU has domineeringÂ role to transform our universities, they should think of alternative measures to strike as they can no longer afford to waste 40 per cent of the time again, so that our students can be properly taught.â€
He called on the federal government to vote more moneyÂ for universities to enable them go into research works and cushion the effect of the burgeoning population of students.