MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
The ‘appeal’ on Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) asking them to reconsider their stand and call off the five months old strike; if anything, is a volte facing attempt to woo undiscerning Nigerians into believing that he means well for their children in the universities.
The truth remains that the Buhari administration has shown worse concern than any other administration towards the education of Nigerians in our universities. His body language and the inaction of his leadership to effectively and genuinely address issues raised by ASUU clearly exposes his hypocrisy towards improving the educational sector better than what he met on ground.
However, in all of this, Buhari is not alone in the regime hate for Nigeria’s University system as greater number of the nation’s leaders cutting across governors, ministers, National Assembly lawmakers etc have their children in foreign universities. They do not believe in our system in spite of their pretences.
While children of the less privileged (like this writer) are shut out of school due to the prolonged ASUU strike, children of our leaders are having smooth academic session overseas and graduating on schedule. To add salt to injury, the same shameless leaders would flout the graduation photos of their children in the social media seeking to advertise their accomplishment at a time they have conspired to destroy Nigeria’s own University system.
It is unimaginable that in a country where some serving government officials could corruptly enrich themselves conveniently with billions of naira without commensurate punishment from the leadership, universities are left underfunded and allowed to shut down for months.
What ASUU is asking for, is not out of this world. The Buhari administration can conveniently meet up with the demand if the leadership is sincerely interested in our University system.
The lecturers are not asking for private estates for themselves but proper equipping of the schools and granting of certain concessions that will allow the universities run smoothly and compare favourably with foreign counterparts.
The collective wickedness of our leaders often find expression in the complicit attitude of those who ought to check the failures in the system but have chosen to align with the destroyers of the system.
Explained in simple terms; apart from lawmaking, is the National Assembly not supposed to checkmate the inefficiencies of the executive (President and Ministers) under the principles of separation of power?
In a saner clime, Nigeria’s present National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives ought to have seriously waded into the ASUU crisis and break the jinx that has remained the bone of contention between ASUU and Federal Government all this while.
The lawmakers with their enormous constitutional powers as representatives of the people, obviously carried away by the fact that their children are schooling overseas; have chosen not to rely on such powers to address the lingering ASUU issue but resort to seeing the controversy as intractable and better left to linger for as long the lecturers have chosen to shut the campuses.
From Ahmad Lawan’s Senate Chambers to Femi Gbajabiamila’s House of Representatives, the story of indifference occupies the space. While a few lawmakers are sympathetic and sincerely worried over the ASUU demand, majority of others are not interested in whether the universities are shut down for ever since their children are not in any of the Nigerian Universities.
The situation becomes more disappointing when we consider the fact that over twenty members of the same ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were falling on one other to buy presidential nomination form each for N100million at a time students of our universities are shut out of campuses. None of them including the Minister of Labour Chris Ngige and junior Minister of Education, showed any concern. They were to contest to continue leading us in darkness.
Some of the aspirants went extra length to step down for those who could buy them off and also buy off delegates to the presidential primaries with thousands of dollars. They relish in the ability of their money power to capture the entire Nigeria come 2023 Election not minding the consequences of prolonged shutting down of our universities. ASUU issue is of least concern to them because their children are overseas, ironically on sponsorship with corruptly acquired wealth from our commonwealth.
As Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a national leader in the ruling All Progressives Congress gets set in his presidential race to get power in 2023, let it be made known to him that his party has failed Nigerians in many fronts.
The wickedness and insensitivity of the current leadership towards addressing the ASUU issue is enough to shut off the APC from continuous leadership of the country. The conspiracy of the leaders in undermining the strategic place of University education towards our growth and development as a nation would surely hunt them in the days.
As the campaigns for the 2023 elections would soon start, there is some wonder what report card the APC as a party with its presidential candidate as Tinubu has to show as far as University education is concerned. The days ahead would surely judge.