The 2022 ASUU strike which started on February 14, is now five months old. In the second week of July, after 5 months, the strike has been much focused by many commentators in Nigeria. I suspect this is mainly due to the appeal made by Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari.
One or two people have raised the issue of alternatives to strike action. Some even question not only the patriotism of ASUU and its members, but challenged the intellect of ASUU and its members, with accusations of a lack of innovation in finding alternatives to the use of strikes My purpose here is to attempt to review possible options for the use of strikes to achieve ASUU’s goals.
In 2020, ASUU was on strike for about 9 months from March to December. In the period I wrote and circulated two articles. The first was titled: Are our public universities following the path of our public primary and secondary schools? The second was titled: Public universities closed for eight months and History of King Solomon and the two women.
When you add nine months in 2020 to one plus two plus three months in 2022, we have 15 months of strikes from March 2020 to August 14, 2022. Those admitted in 2019 are still at the 200 level to date. From March 2020 to August 2022 is 30 months, of which 15 months were for strikes.
In this second article, (Public Universities Closed for Eight Months and the Story of King Solomon and the Two Women), I compared the situation to Solomon and the two women in the Bible. I asked that the woman who actually owns the child would not allow her baby to be killed, even if she gave the baby to the other woman. This is still my plea. Anyone who feels a sense of ownership of public universities in Nigeria should make a sacrifice and stop what is happening.
I reflected on the previous article on public universities going the way of public primary and secondary schools, when we received the news last month (June 2022) that Afe Babalola University is now ranked as no. ua Nigeria by Times Higher Education (THE). ). There are people in our university system who discount these rankings as unimportant, but it really is important. The perception, especially of higher education institutions, is important, in the world that has arisen around global higher education, and the assessment of its products. I join HE President Muhammed Buhari in congratulating Afe Babalola University for being the first university in Nigeria to be in the top 400 of this ranking. Over the years, Nigeria has been pointing fingers at the not-so-good position of its universities in these rankings.
The future respect for Nigeria’s university system seems to lie with its private universities. For a long time, the country has sought to value its universities in the same way. The country has also assumed that its older public universities produce better graduates than younger and private ones. The country has also acted as if its older federal universities are better than state universities. Some people, including employers, those involved in interviewing job seekers, those involved in graduate admissions testing and interviews, may note that these assumptions may not be correct.
Today, many university professors say so openly and, in fact, are already implementing preferences to send their departments to private universities. The same thing happened in public elementary and secondary schools, with better qualified teachers employed in the public school systems happily sending their pupils to private schools with less qualified teachers. Nigeria is indeed a smart country.
While this is the case, a “small” piece of news recently surfaced, but it didn’t seem well pointed out in Nigeria. This news is that the chairman of the NUT in Kaduna state suspended the test for teachers in that state. If this news is not disputed, it means that teacher number ua primary school in Kaduna state (I hope), placement test, which we learn is commonly used in assessing the lack of skills of the our teachers Nigeria should appreciate the weight of this. We should look more closely at Union leaders and what part of the profession they seek to protect, symbolize and actually represent.
What does this have to do with universities? It is that there are those who question the quality of our university professors, their commitment to work, their behavior, not even doing the work for which they have been hired, instead of being part of the university staff, paid by universities, but have no exemplary performance in teaching, research and community service; union leaders who seek promotion without deserving it. University union leaders who are guilty of the same charge as evidenced in poor quality graduates, unable to speak correct English, nor demonstrate a quality finish in behavior and language. Suppose there were to be an examination of the teachers on the courses they teach, what would be the result?
But we are on ASUU strike.
Many years ago, when teaching was still a vocation and not an occupation, teachers had a different temperament. Many years ago, teachers even paid fees for poor but bright students and pupils. Today, teachers accept money for top-up cards from pupils and students, especially in tertiary institutions. But Nigeria has since evolved with strange gods and peculiar values.
Nigeria as a country, and many Nigerians, even in their personal decisions and actions, operate as if they have their own universe and realities far removed from what most countries and peoples have done in the pursuit of development and the well-being of its citizens.
It will continue tomorrow
Professor Nwajiuba, was Vice Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Ndufu-Alike Federal University between February 2016 and February 2021 email@example.com