Human rights and accountability advocate, Hon. Obidike Chukwuebuka, has told the Federal Government to end the ASUU strike, send students back to school, and improve the state of education in the country. He disclosed this in a statement in which he argued that the higher the students’ level of education and achievements, the better the opportunities that they will have. This statement comes in the heat of failed negotiations and counter efforts made between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government undergraduates of public universities in Nigeria at home for more than four months.
ASUU had embarked on a two-week warning strike on February 14, 2022 after the union accused the government of failing to implement the Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Action signed between the union and the government since 2009. After the government failed to acquiesce to the union’s demands, they simply extended the strike for a month. Subsequently, the strike has been extended to this point. Recently, the federal government failed to make a crucial meeting which was to be a decisive factor in the calling off of the strike.
ASUU has embarked on 16 strike actions since 1999.
Since the strike embarked upon by the union in 1999, they have gone on 15 more. ASUU has had 16 strikes in total since 1999. During the administration of Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, the union embarked on a total of 7 strikes: in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007. During the administrations of Presidents Musa Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari, the union embarked on nine more strikes. The most intense and longest of these happened in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and lasted for nine months.
The demands of the union included better salaries for lecturers, upgraded infrastructure for universities, payment of accrued allowances, and other entitlements for lecturers. Recently, a professor lamented on social media that despite having taught in university for decades and earning every promotion in the academia, he only receives a salary of 400,000 naira every month. He compares his income with its purchasing power, and he discovers that with the current state of inflation in the country, he will spend at least 40% of his income on fueling his car, and that is even provided that he only drives intra-state.
Obidike says that education is vital in modern society.
Obidike says that education is germane to every individual in modern society. He opines that for one to contribute to society, one needs to learn about different areas of human endeavor such as culture, history, religion, among others. To him, education not only molds people into leaders through the impact of knowledge but also teaches them how to lead with true values and emotions. He also argues that education helps to reduce crime rate in society.
One needs no soothsayer to notice the huge disparity between the people found in areas where educated people reside and the demography in areas where education is not really something prestigious. One notices the fighting, violence, drug abuse, and general restlessness found in less-educated areas. Whereas, one notices the relative peace in places where the educated people live. Admittedly, Obidike, does not equate education to certificate or theoretical knowledge alone but to knowledge and its application for the development of society.
Obidike asks the government to send students back to school.
Obidike has urged the government to send students back to school so that better leaders can be made of them and so that the digital gap can be bridged through digital education. He is concerned about the students’ ability to adapt to borderless communication and wider horizons. However, with every recent meeting held by the federal government with ASUU ending in a dead end, the hope of Nigerian students returning back to university sooner cannot be guaranteed.