Blackbox Nigeria

Opinion

It’s time to end ASUU strike, By Azeezat Yishawu

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That incessant strikes have become an annual ritual for students of public universities in Nigeria is no longer news. For almost two months, academic activities have been disrupted in several campuses across the nation, leaving thousands of young minds with no option than to stay home. To say this situation is worrisome for the future of our dear nation is to state the obvious.

Except we choose to delude ourselves, Nigeria’s greatest resources are its young people who occupy a large chunk of the population and making giant strides in different sectors of human life. The average Nigerian youth is smart, full of ideas, energetic, and eager to do something meaningful for himself/herself. This youthful vigour, however, if left untapped, might be harnessed for the wrong reasons. The hopelessness that is birthed by unrealized ambitions — thanks to the industrial disruption of academic activities — is a sure ingredient for societal mayhem and chaos.

Considering the current security challenges facing the country, there is no better time for the Federal Government through the concerned Ministries and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to urgently find a meeting ground in their many interventions. Keeping a larger number of young people, who are demotivated and fed up by the system, at home for a longer time is too risky. The resultant effect is that we end up breeding greater restivenes among them which might eventually pose as a greater threat to the peace of our nation.

When not meaningfully engaged with their studies in preparation for immediate and future opportunities and left disappointed by the failure of the government, youths become more angry, agitated and develop destructive tendencies. The psychological effects of ASUU strikes on Nigerian students and even their parents are immeasurable.

As I noted in an earlier intervention, the incessant strike actions by lecturers have left the fate of thousands of students hanging in the balance, and also pose as a serious threat to the education sector. In the statement, I equally opined: “There is no gainsaying that the greatest victims of ASUU strikes are the students whose future is put on hold in the process. In a country where there are relatively scarce employment opportunities, spending seven or eight years for a 4-year programme will further jeopardise the chances of young people to secure jobs.” Hence, the closure of schools reduces economic opportunities for young people and further widen the poverty gap in the economy.

Going forward, if there is anything that stands tall amid this strike debacle, it has to be the need for the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. More than ever, funding public universities to advance research and innovation is non-negotiable. Also essential to the development of the education sector is increased budgetary allocation accompanied by well-thought government policies.

Rt. Hon (Dr.) Azeezat Yishawu is the Speaker of the 5th Assembly of the Nigerian Youth Parliament.

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