There is rampage in the land; an ocean of grief flows beneath it. My heart bleeds, but the closest of friends dare not console.
When the head of a household dies, the house becomes an empty shell; when the land becomes hemmed in a throng of sickness, not even the chief-priest can cleanse it. A dialogue between the deaf will lead nowhere but immured in indecisive decision. I choose to remain salient, albeit my heart signaling the eyes to watch over the night – troubles sieged the land; an oozing Lamentations that show no sign of abating despite how unceasing dialogues between the two deafs – FG and higher institution trade Unions – carpeted the land.
Like the collision of the hammer against the anvil, in the forging house of a new life, one needs to bend for the others, or where necessary, rust! The recurring face-offs between FG and higher institutions trade unions in the country have offered more wreckages than good. Although, the surface alibi sounds convincing – revitalization gospel, it serves no good than a political party’s manifesto, a ride on a tiger’s back. It often finds solace in waste bins and then revisited when a seeming trouble looms.
The renowned Greek philosopher Plato advocated the importance of philosophers in nation building in his book ‘The Republic’, he claimed that “Unless, said I, either philosophers become kings in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously and adequately.” These unions husband academics who are versed and multi-dimensionally experienced – A cornucopia blessings to Nigeria. However, a rolling Stone gathers no moss, these unions vitiate Plato’s premonition. The unions seem unsettled, driving with a broken rear mirror. We were taught to be steadfast, thoughtful and realistic, but to practice what was preached on the altar, in the four walls of a classroom called for a truce. To seek a lasting solution to the menace of striking, why not hit the nail on the head, rather than chasing juicy and flowery promises?
In the intellectual writing of Robert Greene, the author of the controversial book ‘forty-eight laws of power’, “strike the Shepard and the sheep will scatter”. Yes! Even though I disagree with him on most of the laws, I find this appealing. Trouble can often be traced to a single strong catalyst – the stirrer. “Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter” he said. Within this purview, it would be pertinent to recall factors that precipitated this rancor rapport in our educational sector with a view to cementing lasting remedy to the tune of recurring cries of revitalization.
Bearing in mind Greene’s laws, ASUU, a union formed in 1978 as a successor to the defunct Nigerian Association of University teachers, started promisingly. Playing active roles in the struggle against military junta and their unholy decrees. In 1988, the union organized a national strike to press for fair wages and University autonomy – University autonomy! The Genesis of the unfair crucifixion of the education sector. As seconds chameleon to minutes, and the days whirl to years with silence paving way for grief, the stampede orchestrated by the gospel of autonomy/revitalization, wrecking inculpable damages, is much well alive and healthy, percolating the formidable fortress of our daily lives. Meanwhile, out of curiosity, or I will say my inquisition, a question that hennaed my veins, waiting to be escorted to the bully world of answers and which I believed every Nigerian should ask is, is industrial action in our higher institutions of learning a course, curse or blessings? Or is it short-sightedness on the part of government that is killing our education? Investing in Education is like molding a fruitful future from the present.
My heart bleeds, and then slumped; the education sector suffers on life-support, but the doctors look helpless and confused. She looks weary, and weariness cries for a lasting panacea. Where two elephants duel, it is the grass that suffers, perhaps with a death penalty! Who care if my heart does not stop beating? FG, ASUU, ASUP or COESU?
Professor Issac Olawale Albert, a renown lecturer of African History, peace and conflict studies, conducted a diagnosis and proffered internal sustainability as the remedy to the scourge of incessant strike in our universities, and which I believe will work in other higher institutions of learning across the country.
“Government alone can no longer carry the burden of financing University education. It is necessary for these institutions to start working towards internal sustainability through re-dedication, pragmatism, innovativeness, and cutting-edge competence, most especially in terms of cost rationalization and resource optimization.” This involves various institutions in the country to improve their internal revenue base by investing in economic ventures and expanding source horizons to include grants from international agencies.
In the same vein, the belief that education is a fortune that must be paid for with funds acquired by a loan of any kind is a misguided policy of the highest order. Being an astute advocate for an inclusive and qualitative education for all, irrespective of races, sex or religion, I believe, apart from parents and students alike, government has a role to play in enabling a conductive atmosphere for learning; not necessarily law and order, but maintaining industrial Harmony in the sector. And not resorting to repressive policies and ritzy promises. On this note, it should be enacted, by acts of parliament, that a certain reasoning quota should be budgeted for education in every financial statements of the year, at least 17 per cent. In so doing, we would reshape the future and put a period to the recurring face offs between FG and unions in the educational sector.
To sum it up, trust me! Whether it is here or there, my heart and most bleeding hearts must be appeased. We demand no manslaughter nor sacrifices, but a working institution, a conducive and enabling atmosphere devoid of industrial rancor. The education sector must be given precedence, not a neglect. A stitche in time saves nine, this is a call! A call to reformation of what tomorrow shall be.
Abiodun Jamiu, a 200L political Science student Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto