This is the best question at this period of time when it seems the evil bedevilling education sector in Nigeria would never come to an end. Mallam Adamu Adamu, the minister of education, is a onetime lover of ASUU’s resistance against the former governments’ bad policies towards education. He dedicated a whole column in the Daily Trust newspaper of 15th November 2013 to explain the reasons ASUU was always on avoidable but necessary strike, which was due to government lackadaisical and unwarranted attitude. In his famous write-up, he posited with the “129 Universities, 100-odd polytechnics and 85 colleges of education, and a very I-don’t-care attitude to higher education; Nigeria spends less than one percent of its Gross National Income (0.85% precisely); while four of its smaller English-speaking African compatriot-states spend multiples of that: Ghana (2.85%), Egypt (3.9%), Zimbabwe (5.4%), and South Africa (7%)”.
This was one of the statistics used by the current minister of education, to condemn the attitude of successive regimes in Nigeria towards education. How time flies that the erstwhile critic has forgotten to bring sanity to the same sector that he has now the opportunity to do so? That’s why it’s not enough to say but to do. It’s almost an academic session that the lecturers of all Nigerian public universities have been on strike, in the same regime where Mallam Adamu Adamu holds sway as the minister of education and he is not only invisible as a person but also his policy towards greater education. Apart from the school feeding programme at the primary school level, which is ridden with corruption, there is no any other significant policy towards successful education system.
The ASUU strike which has entered the ninth month has been made possible by the apathetic attitude of the government officials who are involved in negotiating with ASUU executives. As against the popular belief that minister of education is the chief education officer of a nation and supposed to be at the fire front of the dialogue to ensure speedy resolution of the impasse, the reverse is the case in this current dispensation. The minister of state for education and minister of labour have been at the centre of the resolution. The duo, however, has remained the cog in the wheel of resolution of this imbroglio. Instead of calling ASUU for negotiation during the Covid-19 pandemic to brainstorm on how the signed agreement will be implemented, they had side-lined the union leaders contemptuously.
Even after the lockdown occasioned by pandemic, the agents of government have continued to dribble the union with meetings upon meetings, without any concrete implementation strategy. This was manifested in a way an agreement will be reached, and the ministers at different times will pronounce different things to the media. This hide-and-seek has continued severally until the parties agreed to shield their swords and allow universities to resume academic exercises. The government agreed to pay the withheld salaries during the strike on or before 9th of December 2020, while ASUU also promised to suspend the strike once it observes the government has started the implementation of its promises.
In a characteristic manner of this government, the day has passed and no implementation of just one of its promises. They however want ASUU to suspend the strike based on their usual and fathom promises. They have forgotten they are products of these intellectuals from the ivory towers. Hopefully, this government will look back to the history of ASUU strikes and do the right thing in the interest of the masses.
Dr. Olawale Surajudeen Adebayo, Department of Cyber Security Science, Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State