by Alexander O. Onukwue
Eight years after the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was signed, tertiary institutions in the country are expected to be shut down once more due to strike.
In a statement on the 13th of August, ASUU declared that it will be embarking on an indefinite strike to press the Government to meet their demands based on the agreements signed the Yar’Adua administration. This same agreement that caused a four month strike in 2009, and a six month strike in 2013, will now keep Nigerian students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, away from their academic duties for an unknown period.
Unless the Federal Government calls them to the table immediately, precedents tell us it will be for quite a while.
What is not in doubt is that this ASUU strike will set thousands of Nigerian youth on very idle paths. Without directly wishing it, it almost seems inevitable that many will be diverted towards antisocial and unwholesome activities, which they may not have been involved in within the confines of an academic environment.
Young agile men and women in the prime of their lives, who may not be able to find part-time vocational past-times to occupy them meaningfully, may find absorption in one of the movements buoying ethnic tensions around the country. As reckless as they may appear, IPOB, the Arewa Youth Group and the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators all have their intellectual supports for the causes they advocate. Besides that, there would be some persons who they can woo to their sides just for the stipends that could be made.
The majority of Nigeria’s population is between 18 and 35, and having thousands of them outside of their principal duties for a long time could be precarious, especially at these unprecedented times. It behooves Government to act immediately in the interest of order, peace and progress to ensure this is not the case.