THE Save-Public-Education-Campaign, a coalition of civil society organisations championing the right to education in Nigeria, on Monday said over 725 days of learning have been lost to strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over issues bordering on poor welfare, university autonomy and lack of adequate funding for universities.
According to the group, these lost days translate to amount to two and half sessions lost in the “educational lives of innocent Nigerian children/students in public universities across the country.
The group said the unpopular policies of the Buhari administration have adversely affected public universities and other tertiary institutions across the country.
In the texts of a press conference held on Monday in Abuja and signed by Comrades Vivian Bello and Dimeji Macaulay, the group said it “has watched with awe and abhorrence the near-total collapse of Tertiary Education in Nigeria.”
The briefing, entitled “Only People’s Will, Mass Action Can Defeat Nigerian Government Attacks on Public Education,” reads in full:
“The SAVE-PUBLIC-EDUCATION-CAMPAIGN condemns the unpopular policies of the Federal Government in Education sector in Nigeria, which have adversely affected public Universities and Tertiary Institutions across the Country.
“The SAVE-PUBLIC-EDUCATION-CAMPAIGN, A Nigerian Civic Coalition for the uphold of Educational Rights in Nigeria, has watched with total awe and abhorrence the near-total collapse of Tertiary Education in Nigeria.
“Distressing statistics show, that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU has been on strike for a total of over 725 days, since the beginning of this administration over issues that border largely on poor welfare, University Autonomy and lack of adequate funding for Universities. When tallied inversely, this amounts to an entire two and half years lost, in the educational lives of innocent Nigerian Children/Students in public Universities across the country.
“It did not end there; The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education, ASUP and COEASU are all also currently on strike on similar issues as ASUU. We all can see clearly, that this is an all-round collapse of the Tertiary Education in the Country. Only last week, while the Minister of Labour was rehearsing a familiar cracked refrain that government was working hard and that the strike will soon end, the SSANU and NASU came out to announce a devastating two-months extension of the strike.
“In all of these, the Nigerian authorities have not seen any compelling need to either devote the action and attention or resources that are needed to tackle this ugly state of affairs of the Tertiary Educational Sector in Nigeria. On the contrary, they rather see and consider playing politics and the attendant wastage of humongous resources on Political Parties’ Nomination forms and Primaries as priorities while relegating issues as fundamental as the Education and future of Nigerian Children to the back-bench. This is totally tragic. But then of course they do not care. Infact, they can’t care any less. Not with the children of the common-man as we know it being the ones that attend public schools in Nigeria. On the other hand, the children of ruling elites are graduating in different international Universities across developed countries around the world. Soon, if the situation persists, we will have no option than to compile names of these public officials and their children, and demand the hosting countries and schools expel them to return and have education as is, in their home country, Nigeria.
“In this year 2022, Nigeria budgeted the sum of N1.29tn, or 7.9% for Education, a far-cry from UNESCO’s standard recommendation of 26% minimum. This meager allocation to the sector underscores the lip-service the Country’s authorities pay to Education, and of which outcome and impact can now be directly seen in the teeming mass of young people, who have over and against the excellent innate talents and potentials they are endowed with, have now taken in mass to crime and criminality while government on its part has taken to chasing-shadows by expending huge sums of money in the guise of fighting criminality and insecurity instead of tackling the problem from its root cause.
“We make bold to say, that if government will recognize the futility in its so-called insecurity-fighting campaign, change strategy and invest a greater proportion of the resources it is expending in the insecurity campaign in providing robust, efficient and quality educational system and structure and qualitatively educate its teeming citizenry, within a calculated period of time, insecurity will gradually die a natural death in Nigeria and the society will take on its hitherto regular and peaceful equilibrium. In order words, we submit boldly that, Education can be a veritable panacea to insecurity in Nigeria.
“In the light of the foregoing therefore, we unequivocally demand as follows:
- “That the negotiation process of the strike action, including as led by the Prof Nimi Briggs committee, be immediately concluded and SIGNED. (We demand an end to the lingering foot-dragging).
- “The IPPIS has been specifically described and pointed out with evidence, by the striking academic unions as problematic, inconsistent and fraudulent. The Platform should therefore be set aside while the proposed more credible alternatives; UTAS, U3PS deployed accordingly.
- “We call for immediate payment of ALL withheld salaries of the striking academic unions.
- “Having become aware of a proposed bill by the Senate to establish financial Aid Scheme for students; we demand that such proposed Scheme be clearly explained to Nigerians. We want to see a properly public funded education at all levels in Nigeria and not creating another looting avenue or portfolio for some unscrupulous mindless public officials.
- “That in view of the gravity of the situation, we make a clarion call for unity and coming together of staff unions, students, workers and communities across the Country, to mobilize and get ready for civic mass actions to compel the government to take the necessary steps to end the strike and have the millions of our children and students, return to school to end the jeopardy of their Education and future.
“Lastly therefore, we wish to state unequivocally that, If the strike action lingers, we will be forced to commence another round of mass protests Nationwide to bring an end to the unjust denial of innocent Nigerians their Right to Education.”