By SEGUN MANUEL
FOR about four months, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, went on strike. I started thinking, what was ASUU asking for? One of the things that I learnt they were asking for is better funding of our educational system. Well, I personally do not see anything wrong in asking for better funding for education in Nigeria. Of late, most of the employers of labour in Nigeria have been complaining about the quality of the graduates being turned out of Nigerian universities.
This problem and many more are a direct result of the lack of funding of the educational sector in Nigeria. This problem can be solved if the government is willing to stop this ugly trend in our educational sector. We had thought that with a president and vice, who have close ties with this sector, the problem will be a thing of the past but it does not seem to be so. Recently, I read that the Governors Forum was urging the National Assembly to approve more money to rehabilitate militants that surrendered their arms. That is in addition to the about N50billion that was set aside to facilitate the amnesty programme. I smell a rat here, some people are making easy money from this whole programme and want to make more money at the expense of suffering Nigerians.
Well, that is not the issue that troubles me now. What troubles me now is that our educated president and vice president who, instead of thinking of sending our students back to school, prefer to spend tax payers money on militants. Donâ€™t get me wrong, I have nothing against Niger Delta militants. Having stayed in the Niger Delta most of my life, I believe that they were fighting for their right (thatâ€™s aside the criminal dimension that was added to the struggle of late). What Mr. President does not seem to realise is that he is not adopting a long term solution to the militancy problem. What he is doing is like cutting the leaf of a tree, when what he really needs to do is cut the tree from the root. Leaving the teeming population of young, vibrant Nigerian students at home poses more problem to the nation in the long run, than the militants.
My advice to the president is that he should look into the ASUU crisis now that the teachers have suspended their strike to enable government look into their grievances and resolve this impasse, just the same way he personally handled the militancy issue in conjunction with the Governors Forum and other stakeholders in the sector. Nigerian students, please do not be downcast, better days are ahead. The future of this great nation is in our hands, we need to stand up and take responsibility for where we are going as a nation. We also need to demand responsibility from these rulers who think they are leaders. We have sat back for too long, now is the time to stand and be responsible. Our fathersâ€™ generations have failed us, posterity will not forgive us if we fail our nation.
Manuel is resident in Warri