During my pupillage in primary school, I could remember a song which we often sang while in assembly. Even though as at that time, I could not sing the song well, I was able to grasp the core message that ‘children are the leaders of tomorrow’. My thought was the future was for all, unbeknown to me, the future is not for the child of the common man. With this current democratic dispensation, the saying is incongruent with reality.
If at all the child of the common man has future to lead tomorrow, today, the future is seized by the federal government and the ASUU. Considering the lackadaisical approach of our leaders when it comes to tertiary institutions, it is obvious they care little; this is because their children don’t attend public schools and tertiary institutions at home. They send their children abroad, to expensive, luxurious and crème de la crème universities where schools dare not go on strike. They acquire quality knowledge from renowned teachers and professors so that when back home, they would be deemed fit for big governmental positions.
The incessant ASUU strikes has prompted those from the middle class to look for alternative by sending their children to Cotonou, Benin Republic, Ghana, Uganda, among others, where within two years or less, one would graduate and be issued a certificate equivalent to that of Nigeria. Those who cannot afford this are at the mercy of ASUU and the federal government.
This is not the first time ASUU is embarking on strike to air its grievances. But it is one of the longest strikes embarked by the union. This one is about eight months and academic activities in public universities have been suspended ever since. Students have been left to watch their future being suffocated at the hands of these two elephants.
I thought the federal government would be proactive when approaching problems, looking at how the nation found itself in a catastrophe as a result of the ENDSARS protests. I am very sure government wouldn’t want to see ENDASUU Strike. The students are fed up staying at home. I am sure if our elitist politicians’ children are in public universities, the ASUU strike would have been resolved since.
ASUU is no saint, but the federal government should take the lion share of the blame. This is because, had the government honoured the memorandum of understandings and other agreements reached, the strike would have been unnecessary. ASUU and the federal government should come to a compromise and stop playing football with students’ future.
ASUU should not know that its notoriety when it comes to strike is giving it a bad name in the eye of the world. ASUU should restrategise and adopt other means of airing their grievances if truly their struggle is for the improvement of public universities in Nigeria. More often, students are at the receiving end of their recurrent strikes.
End the strike now and give us back our future! So that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.
––Mahmud Yahaya, Faculty of Law, Bauchi State University, Gadau