Collins Uma: Let me give my ASUU testimony (Y! FrontPage)

by Collins Uma

Collins

Mr Nyesom Wike has been more interested in partisan politics and how this affects his chances in the next election cycle in his home Rivers State to give the striking academics and their demands the necessary attention.

First of all, a cool story.

I have never been a fan of long-distance relationships but, by some interesting twist of circumstances, that is what I have always had. Or that is what I had for a long time.

Wifey and I started dating in November 2008. I was a Youth Corper serving in Abuja and she was in Makurdi, Benue State. I’d used a series of phone calls to woo her before the ‘official commencement’ in November ’08. This necessitated several trips to and fro Makurdi for me. We were starry-eyed lovers and our prayer then was that God should grant me a job after my service year in August 2009 that would make me relocate to Makurdi.

This prayer was answered in March 2010 when I got a job with a Multinational (Flour Mills of Nigeria) to oversee the activities of the company in Benue State and parts of Nasarawa, Kogi and Taraba states, with residence in Makurdi. Another of our prayers was also answered, though; she got admission at Kogi State University (KSU) to study the course of her choice. That was how she left Benue State University and moved to KSU.

And the long-distance continued. Me in Benue, she in Kogi, with the telecommunication companies billing us with all pleasure.

Our entire relationship was long-distance. Our courtship was long-distance. Our wedding planning was long-distance.

Wifey got into town a little over a week before our wedding. And she left one week after the wedding because of her exams at KSU. Long-distance marriage.

So I’m thanking God for little mercies. By January 1, 2014 we’d have spent six (6) uninterrupted months together, for the first time. Yes, we’ve never lived together this long. And, oh the bliss!  How could this have been possible without the ASUU strike? Praise the Lord.

While I’m thanking God for the strike though, I have it at the back of my mind that Wifey should have been done with her programme at KSU by now if not for the senseless strike. All over Nigeria there are people whose lives have been put on hold for six months due to this strike while the world moved on. This and other ASUU strikes have denied them, among other things, the opportunity to graduate before a certain age after which they are automatically disqualified from applying for jobs at certain establishments. Access Bank, for instance, does not take candidates who are more than 24 years old.

There is no guarantee this will be the last ASUU strike.

There is no guarantee the N200 billion released by the Federal Government will be used for the right purposes and a chunk of it will not go into private pockets.

There is no guarantee students will not continue to buy handouts to augment lecturers’ income after this strike.

Having a bullish Minister for Education has not helped either. Mr Nyesom Wike has been more interested in partisan politics and how this affects his chances in the next election cycle in his home Rivers State to give the striking academics and their demands the necessary attention. This is why he issued the military-style ultimatum to members of ASUU to go back to work or consider themselves fired. While he barked out this order like they were some nuisance in his way and not part of his job description he forgot to look at labour laws, especially the portion that has to do with the extents of a minister’s powers to hire and fire.

The development of a society depends on the education of its members. The establishment of more federal universities in each state of the federation is not the solution to this as the establishment of the universities without the necessary funding will only give us quantity without quality. What is the point of having all those institutions of higher learning if the students end up spending half of the entire year at home and still go back to the same dilapidated and over-crowded classrooms and laboratories with obsolete pieces of equipment after the strikes?

As we move into 2014 it can only be to our advantage and benefit, and that of generations to come, if more is allocated to education in the budget. Political will expressed in this way will guarantee a better educated and more enlightened citizenry and, hopefully, bring an end to these embarrassing ASUU strikes. I want to thank God for other reasons, not ASUU strikes.

 

P.S: This is wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy 2014. Thank you for staying with this column. Your readership is highly appreciated. 2014 will be better. Bless.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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