By Ohore Emmanuel
Since the inception of the Nigerian democracy in 1999, the educational sector has gone on strike more than 16 times.
The back and forth between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body of the teaching staff of Nigerian public universities and the Nigerian government has been an unsettled fight but at the end of the day, it is the Nigerian students that suffer for it.
Could we say that the same political actors that enjoyed free education are now the ones deliberately punishing the Nigerian student?
Is it safe to admit that it is because most of these politicians’ children do not attend our own public institutions hence, the reason they are not keen on solving this long-time issue?
Every government since 1999 comes in and blames the previous government for its irresponsibility. Our educational system is ranked one of the least in Africa and it is also worthy to note that most of our certificates are not accepted abroad, not to talk about us infiltrating our own problem with the dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) and BSc.
The first ASUU strike was during the regime of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1988 and ever since then, ASUU goes on strike like a yearly festival.
During the 2020 pandemic period, a two-week ASUU ‘warning’ strike (March 9 – 23, 2020) was embarked on due to the underdeveloped educational system. Most higher institutions in Nigeria were unable to adopt e-learning and for the 10 months students were at home, but immediately after schools resumed in early February 2021, most schools had to compress their academic calendar to enable them to meet up.
Since Feb 14, 2022, the Nigerian students have been at home. ASUU has continually accused the federal government of not implementing the 2009 agreement on conditions of service and funding of the universities. “Revitalization” through massive funding and ASUU has continued to stress the importance of “genuine university autonomy and academic freedom.”
For a decade now, the 2021 budget for education is the lowest. It is a sign that this government places no value on our educational system.
As time goes by, the youths are gradually losing faith in this system.
The argument between these two elephants has lasted for over 5 months. The Presidency seems to have accused the Minister of Labour of being unable to solve the problem while the Minister has accused the striking lecturers of sabotaging the system.
Over the weekend, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, was appealing to the Nigerian parents to plead with ASUU because the government can no longer solve this problem.
The failure of this government has made so many students divert their passion for studying to survival. Many have gone on to learn skills and trade.
According to UNESCO, there are currently more than 70,000 Nigerian students studying outside the country, with the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada the leading destinations.
While 2023 elections are at the corner, the current government that could not solve this problem for seven years is now promising to solve it in less than 6 months to the end of its tenure in office.
This unending Valentine gift served by this administration will not only destroy the lives of our teeming youth but propel us as a nation with no vision.
Ohore Emmanuel is the lead team at Forthman Educational Foundation, Abuja. He is also a PGDE student at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
Telco Wants Robust Technology-Based Education System in Oyo
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A Nigerian multinational telecommunications company, Globacom, has expressed its readiness to collaborate with the Oyo State government to create robust technology-based education system in the state.
The Regional Head of Public Sector Enterprise for Glo in Southwest, Mr Adewale Adiatu, said the company could provide its e-learning packages and school data packs to the state government for the use of pupils in the state.
“At Globacom, we believe education is key, and we have come to seek collaboration with your board on e-learning and other school starter packs for pupils,” he said when he visited the chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr Nureni Aderemi Adeniran, in Ibadan, the state capital.
“Globacom hopes the Board will utilize the science of learning we offer. We have E-learning packages and School data packs, where every pupil could attend classes remotely,” he added.
In his remarks, Mr Adeniran hinted that the Oyo State government places premium importance on expanding its education sector and increasing pupils’ access to quality education.
“In Oyo State, we recognise the need to expand our education sector through the contribution of the private sector. We are ready to work with you on encouraging learning in Oyo State, bearing in mind that our government is known for providing quality basic education. The Board will gladly partner with you or any other private organizations to increase our children’s access to education,” he said.
Mr Adeniran said the board was open to limitless opportunities driven by technology for the benefit of pupils and students in Oyo State, adding that the Board has ensured the provision of quality education at no cost to pupils in the State.
“However, we are still exploring more means to reach out to our children.
“We know the importance of expanding education and increasing access to basic education for our pupils. Therefore, we are open to innovative and creative ideas that will expand our Basic Education sector,” he concluded.
Court Orders ASUU to Call Off Seven-Month Strike
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing strike.
Delivering a ruling on the interlocutory injunction filed by the federal government on Wednesday, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit.
Justice Hamman, who is a vacation judge, ordered that the case filed should be returned to the president of the industrial court for reassignment to another judge.
The judge further held that the industrial action was detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
He said the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.
Justice Hamman also upheld the application of the federal government, saying it was meritorious and granted.
The court, therefore, restrained “ASUU, whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”
The judge also refused to sanction the federal government as demanded by ASUU.
This order comes a few hours after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) threatened not to allow any political campaign hold across the country till students of public universities return to classrooms.
ASUU has been on strike for the last seven months, precisely since February 14, to protest poor funding of education by the federal government, as well as demand for improved welfare conditions among others.
After several failed attempts to get the striking lecturers back to work while negotiations continue, the government opted for the current court action and prayed the court to compel ASUU to end the near seven-month-old strike in the interest of the nation and the Nigerian students who are suffering the most from the strike.
ASUU Strike: Reps Invite Finance Minister, Others for Clarification on UTAS/IPPIS Controversy
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has been invited by the House of Representatives along with other agencies of the federal government to clarify the disagreement over the use of a payment platform for university lecturers in the country.
The government had said it would pay the salaries of the teachers via the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) but members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) want the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), arguing that the platform captures the peculiarity of the university system.
The lecturers have been on strike over this issue and others since February 14, 2022. On Tuesday, the leadership of the House of Representatives, led by its Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, had a meeting with the leaders of ASUU led by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke to iron out some issues to resolve the matter.
Mr Gbajabiamila, while addressing journalists after a 4-hour meeting with the leadership of ASUU and the officials of the Ministry of Education led by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opiah, at the National Assembly in Abuja, noted that the Finance Minister is expected to brief the legislature on the issue of the deployment of the payment platform.
He said Mrs Ahmed would be required to appear on Thursday alongside the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission.
The Speaker said after the meeting on Thursday, the House would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on his return from the 77th session of the United National General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to present the agreement reached with the striking workers.
Mr Gbajabiamila described the meeting on Tuesday as encouraging because some resolutions were reached.
The Speaker said as an independent arm of government, the meeting with the leadership of ASUU was meant to find a solution to the lingering labour dispute and the seven areas of their demands with the hope of resolving them, so the striking lecturers to go back to school.
According to him, the meeting enabled the House leadership to present the agreed demands to the President with the hope that the matter would be speedily brought to an end.
While thanking the labour leaders, Mr Gbajabiamila also expressed his conviction that the labour leaders would go back to their members and convince them of the need to buy into the solution with the House leadership to avoid undue delay in the resolution of the issue.
On his part, Prof. Osodeke thanked the Speaker and the leadership of the House for calling the meeting, which he said he hoped an amicable resolution would be reached after the lawmakers meet Mr Buhari later.
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