By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
The Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) is doing what they know how to do best; embarking on industrial actions. They are currently on a one-month warning strike which may stretch to indefinite if the government fails to meet their demands.
It is instructive to note that this is the 15th strike by the lecturers since 1999 which made students lose at least two academic sessions.
Insanity they say is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The question I want to ask our lecturers is, the 15 strikes embarked upon since 1999, has it changed the state of our universities? Has it made our universities improve in the world universities ranking? Has it made our universities better?
The last time I checked, the lecturers are supposed to be intellectuals who are supposed to be putting on their thinking cap but that is obviously not the case here.
I make bold to say that strikes have not achieved the desired results. The lecturers will go on strike for a year, after negotiations, they will be paid their salaries and at the end of the day, the losers are the parents and students. This nonsense has to stop.
Since the administration of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, ASUU has been going on strikes. So you want to tell me from Babangida till date no administration is serious about education or the plight of lecturers?
No doubt, tertiary education is in a comatose state in Nigeria, infrastructures in schools are decrepit, most of the hostels in many universities are not fit for human inhabitations. Our health ,economy, and several other sectors in the country are suffering from neglect. Strikes, in most cases, worsen the already bad situation.
Again, why do successive governments sign agreements with ASUU and other unions if they know they cannot implement? The government needs to stop this chicanery. The government in most cases is blackmailed into signing agreements to ease pressures from parents and it has been counterproductive.
It is obvious they don’t have the resources to implement most of the agreements signed. I think the time has come for the government to make some bold decisions.
I think by now, ASUU and universities should look for creative ways of generating revenue. Besides, how do their counterparts like we often say in saner climes make money? For instance, Havard University generates revenue from endowments and donations. An endowment is an aggregation of assets invested by an educational institution to sustain in perpetuity.
Where does the endowment capital come from? It comes from alumni or people who believe in the university’s mission. But endowments are different from donations. Endowment money is geared towards a specific cause specified by the donor, like developing the library or research in a particular field.
Harvard’s $41.9 billion dollar endowment is the largest among all university endowments. Havard uses a portion of the endowment yearly and complements it with student fees and donations.
Why can’t we replicate the same here? Why can’t our lectures generate money through research like their counterparts in other parts of the world? COVID-19 has been ravaging the country for close to two years now and our universities have not found a cure for COVID.
Sadly, most of our lecturers are still teaching with an archaic syllabus. I had a lecturer in school who told us he has been using the same note to teach students since 1983 and close to 20 years later he is still using the same note. He was proud to say it and in Nigeria, most lecturers wear it as a badge of honour. The world has left most of them behind.
I don’t share the view that we should privatise our universities: that would make university education out of reach for most of the masses. There has to be a middle ground.
These incessant strikes need to stop, the union will tell you it is the only language the government understands. I agree but has it changed the situation? your guess is as good as mine .why continue the same path when it has not yielded the desired results? Insanity on steroids.