By Marie-Therese Nanlong,
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has tasked Nigerians and non-governmental bodies in the country to rise to the occasion of standing with and defending the cause of public education, saying the sector is in the state of near collapse.
He spoke at the weekend while addressing his members at the 22nd National Delegates Conference, NDC, of ASUU held at the University of Jos, Plateau State.
Osodeke also called for a check of the ‘Japa’ syndrome so the trend does not erode the public education system which is already in a fragile state.
He lamented the role of government in the education and other sectors of the nation in the last eight years and stated the period has seen the country moving at the fastest speed to the precipice in almost every facet of nationhood.
According to him, “… It, therefore, cannot be overemphasized that the Federal and State governments need to urgently arrest the pervasive Japa syndrome before it eats the fabric of our public universities for the overall development of Nigeria.
“It does appear that the last eight years of the outgoing civilian administration of retired General Muhammadu Buhari have been the very worst in the march towards holistic development of the nation. Indeed, the period of the last eight years has seen the country moving at the fastest speed to the precipice in almost every facet of nationhood.
“The flashpoints of this national decay have been in the near-total collapse of education and health sectors, insecurity, cacophonous banking policies that suffocated ordinary Nigerians, scandalously expensive general elections but which have left most Nigerians dissatisfied just as the previous ones had done, decay of public infrastructure, the ever-escalating incidence of corruption and the enveloping of the majority of Nigerians in an unprecedented level of penury.”
He added, “At no time in the history of Nigeria has a government tended to have the destruction of university education as a policy as we have witnessed recently when the government triggered our Union into strikes only to turn round to visit the inconceivably asphyxiating forms of cruelty on its membership which resulted in deaths, ill health, acute starvation and in the ongoing mass exodus of our members from the system.
“While other nations have been devoting up to 25% or more of their annual budgetary allocations to education, at no time in the life of this administration has the government gone up to 8%. Indeed, for much of the period of this regime, education, especially at the tertiary level, has been on oxygen merely gasping for breath… The Union enjoins individual Nigerians and non-governmental bodies within the country to rise to the occasion of standing with and defending the cause of public education.”
Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jos, Professor Tanko Ishaya, and the institution’s Chapter Chairman of ASUU, Lazarus Maigoro in their separate remarks commended ASUU’s resilience in upholding the standard of tertiary education despite diverse challenges.
Professor Ishaya noted, “… ASUU has been the backbone of Nigeria’s public universities, it has been sad what we have been facing in the public institutions, look at the trend, the government has been deliberate in its actions. Public primary education has died, and most of us benefited from it, the public secondary schools have collapsed, the level of decadence is high and it is gradually coming to the public tertiary institutions.
“If care is not taken, university education may become what we are seeing in the public primary and secondary education but we must do what it takes to reverse the trend…”
The VC called for improved welfare for the ASUU members stressing, “When the welfare of staff is taken care of, the welfare of the VC is taken care of…”