In Nigeria, it is a huge honor for someone to earn a university degree considering factors such as poverty that can prevent reaching such a height.
From the joy of earning a college degree comes an unease of consistent strike actions by the University Academic Staff Union (ASUU).
Since the 1980s, ASUU has lobbied for better pay and working conditions for lecturers at federal and state universities. The body, however, failed to reach a definite and concrete agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria, hence resorting to repeated strikes to demand that their demands be met.
Since its inception, ASUU has embarked on more than 20 separate strikes, including the one ongoing since February 14, 2022.
In the usual scenario, the government – led by the Federal Department of Labor – and ASUU, sit down at the negotiating table to find a solution, but it drags on with no visible light at the end of the tunnel.
The current situation has become more complicated after the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngietold ASUU to lobby the Federal Department of Education rather than his department, which is limited in what it can do to remedy the situation.
“As a conciliator, I have to use the working tools at my disposal. The bosses of the Federal Ministry of Education do not feel the strike. There are things that are beyond me. I am not Minister of Education,” Ngige said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I can’t go to the Minister of Education and tell him how to manage his place. But I told ASUU that you should bomb them at the Federal Department of Education to get this going. There are many ways to do this.
While it is right for ASUU to push for its demands, academic work is after all no small matter and is treated with the highest priority in the developed world as the academic system is an engine of growth and development. economic development, stemming from research. It is however shameful that the ASUU and the government could never reach a consensus.
On the side of all of this are the students whose academic pursuits and goals are compromised by the relentless strike actions of their professors. This is not only a very bad omen for the university system, it also kills students’ interest in their academic pursuits.
The world is developing at a very fast pace where technology defines everyday life. To be delayed in academics by the strike is unpleasant and gives no credibility to the education system.
With the growing poverty in the country, young people are looking for quick ways to gain wealth rather than working hard for it. The Nigerian education system is now being questioned as to whether it still has any relevant value today. The desire to read, learn and research is dying.
It is not hard to understand that after graduating, the majority of young Nigerians find it difficult to find employment and live a quality life as adults.
This further explains why many young people, rather than pursuing a college education to become professionals, would engage in illegal gambling, internet fraud, selling hard drugs, sex and human and drug trafficking. other criminal activities to feel relevant in their communities.
This has now become endemic, with news of the aforementioned vices being reported daily. This has created a serious social problem which the government needs to tackle ahead of next year’s national elections and beyond.
Perhaps if ASUU and the government had reached a good permanent agreement years ago, the situation would not be what it is today. With no sign that there will be a solution to this persistent problem, the fate of Nigeria’s education sector and the future of the youth could reach a bleak tipping point.