As a professor and mother, I have no doubt that you are aware of the fact that your ministry has a crucial role to play in how the future of this country will be.
If Nigeria will remain as a going concern and team up with the rest of humanity to make the world a better place, will depend mainly on the role of the ministry you head.
A strike by the ASUU is therefore a strike at the future of this nation and any shot aimed at the future of our great country must be deflected by you as the minister of education. This is the enormity of the responsibility which God Almighty has placed on your shoulders. If democracy will survive in this nation, your ministry cannot be left out
Honourable minister, every nation that wants to make meaningful progress in every sphere of life gives quality attention to four major areas. These are education, security, law and order and health. A man without education is not only vulnerable, he will kill others. A man without good health is a walking corpse. A man without security is as good as dead. Where there is no law and order, people return to the jungle as resorting to self help becomes the order of the day. In all these four sectors, education, whether formal or informal, is the most important hence Jesus Christ said in the bible: “my people perish for lack of knowledge”. A nation that does not know is a dead nation.
It is against this background that I urge you to do all that is needful to ensure that the current ASUU strike is resolved without further delay. Honourable minister, what is N87 or N97billion to a nation that is concerned about its tomorrow?
The fight of ASUU, you will agree, is genuine even if it is one strike too many. As a professor of education, would you say you were really teaching your students before you went into government? Would you say that the quality of learning you got before you became a professor is what you were giving to your students either at the graduate or undergraduate level?
Is the school environment what a university should be? Obi Nwakanma, a professor of English in an American university and a newspaper columnist, once narrated his experience when he visited the University of Jos from where he graduated 25yrs ago. His conclusion was that what we call universities in Nigeria today are nothing but ghettoes. I agree with him totally.
Honourable minister, is it not a shame that our children flood the universities in the whole of Europe and America just as we have turned India to a Mecca of sort for medical attention?
It is not just shameful. It is ridiculous to say the least. What is in Ukraine, South Africa or any other nation of the world that we cannot replicate in Nigeria? How brilliant are other nations that we have to jump into the plane to seek knowledge from them?
The gentleman that taught me Political Sociology in my penultimate year in the university visited Germany sometime in the 1990s to see his brother. He visited one of the universities in that country. When he compared his school back in Nigeria to what he saw in Germany, he could not manage the shock arising from the difference. Upon his return to Nigeria, he resigned his appointment immediately and went into private business. Today he is in politics. This is the degree of decay our universities have sunk into.
If the truth must be told ma, what ASUU is asking for is pittance compared to what has been stolen either directly from the nation’s coffers, through crude oil theft or the scandalous salaries and wages members of the National Assembly are paid.
Only recently, a former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, revealed to the nation that in a short space of eight years, members of the National Assembly had got N1trillion from the national purse. What did they use it for, you may ask? As if that was not enough to anger any sane person, eminent Nigerians have been expressing shock over the proposed plan to put members of the National Assembly on life pension even when they may not have served for more than four years.
There is no way anyone interested in building a strong nation would not support the stand ASUU has taken. I was shocked to my bone marrows when an assistant lecturer revealed to me recently that his monthly salary was not up to N150,000. Let us face it, in the Nigeria of today this is a ridiculous pay for someone of that status.
I have read the comment of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy to the effect that the Government of Nigeria cannot release the sum of N92 or N87billion to ASUU. Please do not be influenced by that position as this will do no good to this nation.
While I do not advocate the release of funds into the economy without tying it to a regenerative project, it is my view that ASUU’s request will not do the economy any harm. Think of it: a nation that can pay several billions to workers in the power sector as severance pay because the government wants to privatise the sector is saying that it cannot provide Nigerian universities with a sum below N90billion. Who is deceiving who? The truth is that the power sector has been sold at pittance to those in Government. They therefore do not want anything that will disturb them from taking over their new ATM. But with ASUU’s demand, they do not stand to gain anything. Therefore, there is no reason why government wants to pursue the negotiation with an intention to succeed.
Is this the way public universities are in civilized nations? How many members of the ruling elite send their children to the nation’s universities? Please save the nation’s children.