We have been on the sidelines with folded arms watching the comedy series being acted at the phase 1 Abuja theatre aka federal ministry of education and initially it was kind of fun having a break from the monotonous daily lectures and the cold early morning bath we had to endure in order to have a “better” future in Nigeria. It has now been ten weeks since the academic staff union of Nigeria (ASUU) went on what was called an “indefinite” strike and even if we saw this as a long holiday break it should have ended by now, but instead it has turned into an infinite strike.
Since 1991 the lecturers in our varsities have held both open and closed door sessions with the representatives from the ministry of education, which started looking like a routine annual event but finally in 2006 ASUU shocked their colleges when they left the negotiation table to embarked on a strike action which was later resolved. In 2009 ASUU and the federal government agreed on a 9 point plan which was a summary of the sessions held for close to 3 years and supposed to immediately undergo implementation. This was simply to address the rot in the nations tertiary institution and stop the fall in standard of our varsities compared to our continent and world counterparts.
Knowing that education is the bedrock of any society which is ready to break off from the shackles of poverty and take a walk with the prosperity brought by having literate manpower, that sort of agreement should have made anybody who cares about the direction the country is heading very pleased, but unsurprisingly that the individuals we casted our votes for to stir the Nigerian ship to a better future do not even have our plight on their schedule. This is not the first time the government will make an agreement with a workers union like education, health, or the media and, certainly will not be the last, but one reoccurring decimal is their failure to keep it. This has been the longest strike ever held in the country and it is annoyingly over a decision which would certainly have been the greatest achievement of the government in an administration looking as confused as the kids who wrote the Russian alphabets and becoming much lazier, as that man who designed the Japanese flag.
With over 20 million students sitting idle at home just watching the clock run, with the feeling, they let their parents down and realizing age and time are no longer on their side to achieve their goals. Parents looking at their words with a dilemma of feeling, should they feel pity or shame on their wards that are turning to men and women as the day runs by?. We students have to admit that our future is not a cheese board that the elders running the state can move as they please, saying we are the future of tomorrow but our future is always shifted backward. The government of the day came in with a lot of promises and we trusted and entrusted them with the right to pilot the affairs of our great nation, is this how we get repaid?
Ten straight weeks out of the lecture halls will certain do damage to our ability on our various fields and in a country like ours where even graduates with certificates have to dig for years in order to find a meaningful job, what are our chances that we would find a positive means of keeping ourselves busy and off the streets?. It is said that an idle man is the devils workshop, we already have book haram causing chaos in the north and weather problems in the south, adding the problems the ideas developed from an unhealthy idle mind might probably even cause more havoc to the social life and the economy than any other disaster the country as ever had to deal with. A great nation like ours with the potential of becoming a force to reckon within the world is instead struggling to make an impact on the continental stage and in 54 years of independence has instead been slipping into the bottomless abyss of anarchy and division. Our country has been on the war against cyber crime, prostitution, piracy, hard drugs and 419 yet we the students are still indirectly being pushed towards the same bin of indecency which we initially kicked against.
There has never been a time, in the history of our nation in which our elected representatives go on strike, because of not being paid instead their pay pack has been on the rise exponentially while the masses which make the money they spend must go into several sessions and be forced on their knees just so our monthly paycheck should be delivered on time. The pleas from ASUU is certainly not a one of selfish intention, and if people who claim to have the interest of the country at heart cannot sympathize with their course and implement what they agreed upon, I wonder what else they have to offer to our nation.
Like it is said in pidgin “agreement na agreement”, what is the present day leaders teaching us the youth? That they can’t make an agreement and honor it? Personally, I would make it clear I voted Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for president in last general election without blinking an eyelid but several issues concerning the way the Nigerian state is being handled has got me reviewing my vote, and if things do not change before the 2015 elections , i will frankly need a good night rest before picking my candidate.
Please President Goodluck Jonathan, minister of education professor Rufai Ruquayattu we the Nigerian students are tired of staying at home. Please send us back to school.
David Robin John Esu
Crimea state medical university Ukraine