There seems to be no end in sight to the travail of Nigeria’s public university students as regards the lingering strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU started the recent strike, over the non-implementation of its agreement with the federal government, on February 14.
- #NotebookGate: Again, Oyo Awards Contracts Worth N694 million to Companies Owned by Cronies
- How robbers raided Suleja GSM shop, abandoned vehicle at Zuma rock
After 168 days of two extensions, the union on Monday extended the strike by another four weeks.
Public universities have remained shut as both the federal government and the academic staff union failed to reach an agreement. Meanwhile, children of prominent politicians enjoy their studies abroad; some of them graduated in recent times.
There was outrage among Nigerians, especially on social media, when graduation pictures of the first son of Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State governor, flooded cyberspace.
Jordan Nyesom-Wike graduated from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, on July 11.
Jordan, whose father was also a former Minister of State for Education under Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, graduated with a second-class upper division in law from the university.
Mohammed Sani Badaru, the son of Jigawa State Governor, Badaru Abubakar, was also in the news after graduating from Brunel University London, in the United Kingdom.
Wife of the governor, Hajiya Magajiya Badaru Abubakar, and other family members were seen in photos joyfully celebrating at the graduation ceremony held on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
Gbenga Daniel’s son
Mayo, a son of Gbenga Daniel, a former governor of Ogun State, graduated with a master’s degree from the University of London, England.
Mayo is said to have earned the degree in Real Estate from the institution. The graduation ceremony was attended by Olufunke Daniel, his mother, and other family members on July 20.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his wife, Barrister Asia Muhammad, were in London on Thursday, April 28, for the graduation ceremony of their son, Ahmad.
Although, it was not immediately clear which university the younger El-Rufai graduated from, the governor and his other family members were seen in photos celebrating with the young graduate.
CSOs others speak
Speaking on the development, the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said the development was totally condemnable.
“CHRICED condemns the disgraceful pastime where government officials go abroad to felicitate with their children who graduate from schools in those climes, while universities in the country remain under lock and key for several months. It is the height of insensitivity and an affront on the right of Nigerians to have access to quality education.
“Education tourism like medical tourism by government officials is a reflection of the failure of the elite. It is unfortunate that those whose actions and inactions are killing education at home are finding succour for their children abroad while the rest of the populace languish in the face of the industrial action by ASUU,” Zikirullahi said.
On his part, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Barrister Eze Onyekpere, said the development is worrisome and the abandonment of the incumbent federal government.
According to him, this also shows the shamelessness and irresponsibility of the political class in Nigeria.
“Because these are things, even if they have to do them, they could have done so quietly and secretly, without shoving it on our faces, while millions of Nigerian children are at home,” Onyekpere said.
When asked if this does not portend that the strike may not end soon, he said there is no willingness on the side of the present administration.
“They do not have the political will. They do not care because their children are not affected. Imagine this is an election year and the ruling party is not even bothered in the least. They are not interested,” he said.
On her part, the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Ene Obi, said the politicians do not care because their children are not affected being abroad schooling, mostly at the expense of the hapless, who are also the majority of tax payers.
“One of the ways out, as said by a parliamentarian from Katsina, is that if you want to serve in public office, your children should be schooling in Nigeria, in public institutions. If their children are at home, they would do the right things.
“It takes so much to keep children at home. Most of them are in pains; some of them are depressed and many lecturers have not gotten their salaries. We must find ways out this for our country. We don’t have another home,” she said.
On his part, Super Eagles Captain Ahmed Musa questioned the sincerity of those that should be finding a solution to the problem.
In a viral post on his Instagram page, Musa submitted that the country’s ruling class doesn’t believe in the system they are administering and that is why they send their children abroad to study while the country’s ivory towers remain under lock and key.
Musa wrote, “To our political office holders whose children school abroad. How do you feel visiting your children abroad, taking pictures in their schools and posting online while ASUU is on strike?
“Like seriously, how is it ok to you? You’re running a system that you don’t even believe in. Show me one Oyibo leader whose child is schooling in Nigeria.”
Also, during a nationwide protest last week, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), led by its president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, lamented that politicians were showing off their children studying abroad, while the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) lingers for months.
While presenting a letter of complaint to the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja, the NLC president lamented that children of the less privileged were denied quality education in Nigeria.
He said, “No reason is good enough for the children of the working class and the poor to be at home for one day, whereas their children are graduating from Nigerian private universities and abroad. They have the audacity to post them on social media so that we can see.”
Wabba said the federal government must do the needful to respond effectively and promptly to resolve the issues affecting the education system.
The NLC president noted that over 10 million children in public institutions, including three sets, were waiting for their admission to be sorted out.
He, therefore, called on the government to listen to the cries of the poor as, without quality education, there would be no peace for everyone, even democracy.
He also said the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, among others, had pending issues with the government.
He said those issues are straightforward and that some of them are not even monetary policy issues, yet the leaders cannot listen and fix the problems.
“It has been promises, and those promises have not been kept. We are tired, but we are not tired of their antics. We will take our destinies in our own hands and that of our children, which is very important and fundamental,” he said.
Senator Boroface Ajayi, who received the letter of complaint on behalf of Senate President Ahmad Lawan, commended the NLC leadership for the peaceful protest.
He said the National Assembly was working to ensure that the strike was called off and students returned to school.
By Aliyu Jalal & Abbas Jimoh