After a series of tortuous and volatile deliberations between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over non-fulfillment of Federal Government’s part of agreements reached between the duo and which led ASUU to embark on over a month strike nationwide, respite came the way of the belly-aching education sector last week when ASUU after due consultations with its branches decided to sheathe its sword and called off albeit temporarily, the strike which had left academic activities at universities nationwide dormant and comatose.
Both sides unarguably let wisdom prevail at last although ASUU said its action was temporary after which the strike would resume full-blown if the Federal Government engaged in its docility and lackadaisical instincts on the agreement reached between the two parties. Last week, all had virtually returned to the classrooms. This situation calls for ecstasy on the part of students and parents.
However, ASUU had let it be known for anybody who cares to listen that it took its decision to go back to the classrooms based on PARTIAL fulfillment of the agreement reached between it and the Federal Government meaning that the onus is on the Federal Government to make or mar the sector with its executive recklessness and brazen nonchalance to the sector which had over the years been financially hemorrhaged and stultified.
Temporarily or permanently, that the strike was called off after a very short time, the two sides particularly ASUU deserves our commendation by honouring notable citizens’ entreaties on the strike. It absolutely depicts that ASUU is more concerned and visibly worried by the happenings in the sector than the Federal Government.
By now, parents and students should heave a sigh of relief over this noble development. ASUU president, Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi had constantly dinned it into the ears of everybody that the Federal Government must in a very short time, implement its own part of the agreement failing which ASUU will embark on a full-blown action, then nobody should blame ASUU but the Federal Government.
The Federal Government through the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu and all relevant stakeholders in the sector should for once tame the albatross of incessant strikes by formulating concrete policies to nip in the bud the array of strikes in the sector and not disturbing the smooth running of the sector. Enough of this dilly-dallying with the education of our young generation thereby producing half-baked or stark illiterate graduates.
The government functionaries should be reminded that when they were in school, incessant strikes as we have it now, were not common simply because relevant governments knew the value of education to the nation and formulated meaningful policies for the sector. A good example is the education policy of the defunct Western Region Government headed by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. It is an anathema to say the least that those who are handling the sector at present are products of the late sage’s education policy without which probably many of them would not have been to school not to talk of having university education.
Henceforth, the Federal Government should do everything possible to avert strikes in all ramifications by doing the following: honouring agreements reached between it and relevant unions, paying whatever it owes instantly, deal with any government official caught trying to cut corners to enrich themselves, improve dilapidated infrastructure and lastly stop paying lip service to the sector by running the sector on the electronic and print media and deploying a substantial amount of the nation’s budget to the sector yearly as stipulated by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO.
By implementing the aforementioned, the sector will be rejuvenated and will not be ridden by needless incessant strikes. Members of the ASUU by any standard are all honourable members of the society who have children in universities and would not go on strikes willfully if the Federal Government does not push them to the wall by its carefree and inhuman attitude to their plight.
Once again, we give kudos to ASUU hierarchy for applying divine wisdom on the issue and equally appeal to the Federal Government not to draw the hands of the clock back by paying ASUU what is owes it in terms of physical cash and any other debt.
The sector is a critical one and should not be treated with executive flippancy by the government forthwith.