The poverty of ASUU and government role in Nigeria’s failing education

Ebube George Ebisike

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“The notion that funding the National Assembly or any political institution in any measures is more important than funding the Academic Staff Union must be perceived as a grave error and those responsible should be banned from holding any political office”

Authur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes novels and other literary masterpieces commented later in his life that the academic system he experienced in the 1860s could only be excused “on the plea that any exercise, however stupid in itself, forms a sort of mental dumbbell by which one can improve one’s mind.”

 The advancement of the mind, character and contributions to the holistic body of knowledge is what the university system represent.

Unfortunately, the comment by Arthur Conan Doyle described the dysfunctional educational system Nigeria is exposed to especially at the tertiary level. 

The policy mismatches and leadership deficit by the Nigeria Government have become the bane of educational improvement. It has impaired research and development as a sustainable culture and made technological competitiveness of skill and knowledge continue to elude Africa’s most populous country. The recruitment imbalances of teachers at the Federal Universities in Nigeria’s South West in the last five years, where retired lecturers, demised lecturers and vacant positions have not been replaced unlike in the Northern universities, speaks volumes to the deeply rooted discrepancies that are fueling the collapse of university education in Nigeria.

ASUU members and Nigeria FG inside meeting room

Apart from Government inconsistency in meeting ASUU’s demands, which outcome has led to incessant strikes, the issues of discrepancies in allocating JAMB scores to Northern candidates differently from Southern candidates as the mass of students from secondary school’s jostle for admissions into the Universities across Nigeria paints an even demeaning, uninspiring and inequitable picture of how low our tertiary education has become decrepit.

In a statement widely credited to Governor El-Rufai of Kaduna, he urged JAMB to visit this long-term ugly culture of academic negligence, to ensure credibility is restored, such that both students of northern and southern extractions get the real marks they earned in every national written examination and admission should be based on merit for the University education.

Such Government policy that introduced the quota system and catchment area as prerequisites for students to gain admission into the university system has merely been retrogressive.  It is inconceivable the extent of the dilemma these policies have had on the collective psyche of our national knowledge and history within the academic educational ecosystem, it’s concomitant relationship with industrial output, human capital growth and indeed shaping society at large.

 The conscious action of not meeting ASUU’s legitimate demands by the Government has continued to make lecturers, teaching staff, Professors and the system extremely vulnerable to corrupt tendencies.  This has gave rise to many ugly trends in the academic system including rendering the lecturers adversely disenfranchised and leading to all manners of vices including the ugly practice of sex-for-grade by some teachers, the mandatory sale of photocopied journals to earn scores in academic assignment and even the culture of academics rigging elections for politicians.
These are grievous misrepresentation of our fertile academic minds and workers in the citadel of knowledge

ASUU strike and the future of the nation

More so, the culture of owing salaries to lecturers and under funding of our universities must be criminalised by society and the defaulting political elites penalised.

The notion that funding the National Assembly or any political institution in any measures is more important than funding the Academic Staff Union must be perceived as a grave error and those responsible should be banned from holding any political office for life.

Since the fish starts to rot from the head, an economic extortion of lecturers and our revered academic league in the Universities, means that there is bound to be replicative and consequent extortion of the students by the academic system and its managers. fraud unchecked begets fraud. Commensurate punitive measures according to the law must be taken against offending lecturers to deter all forms of default and debauchery as also the politicians who foist these grim policy realities upon our system of education.


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