In Case You Missed It:
Nigerian universities have been plagued since long time “imo river” with strike actions by the various interest groups and unions that exist within the academia.
Sometimes, the lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union if Universities (ASUU) embark on such strikes over one thing or the other.
At other times, their counterparts, the Non Academic Staff of the Universities, aptly tagged NASUU (just add “non” in front of the ASUU, to find out what that acronym stands for) may decide to down tools in protest of or support of a particular cause.
At other times, it is the students themselves, young people whose parents and communities have sometimes sacrificed everything to see through tertiary education in the hopes that they would graduate to alleviate some of the family’s financial burdens; could also decide that the environment is no longer conducive for learning and a break to allow them negotiate with whichever interest group would attend to their issues as quickly as possible, is necessary.
When I first got in into the university in the early nineties, the excitement of finally ‘entering an higher institution’, was quickly and efficiently dampened by ASUU which promptly proceeded on the longest strike ever witnessed.
Yes, 14 months of sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs and forcing yourself to follow current events in the off chance that the strike would be called off while you were distracted by some other mundane things.
14 months of watching the paint dry.
14 months of counting sheep which had to be cajoled into leaping over the fence in order for time to pass.
By the time we returned back to resume our hurriedly truncated first semester, a lot had changed about us and our classmates. We had all grown up by force.
A bit jaded by the long wait, so we were no longer as green behind the ears as we were when we were fresh JAMBites.
Some students had passed to the great beyond. Some had gotten married.
Some returned to school with big bellies while others returned with bigger responsibilities.
Some had acquired additional skills while yet others had given up on the hustle and gone off to pursue other endeavors.
While ASUU and the Federal Government held themselves by the jugular and time stood still in the campuses; life continued to pass by rapidly.
Such is life.
A couple of our classmates didn’t return to school though; when next we saw them, they had a hurriedly acquired an accent, ‘speaking through the nose’ and the most important distinction of all, were about rounding off their second year.
Well, for the parents who had ‘muscles’, they had simply chalked off the attempt to patronize Nigerian universities as a laudable venture, scored themselves ‘E’ for Effort, and quietly transferred their children to the much touted ‘saner climes’ where they could, at least, be assured of a stable school calendar.
The rest of us that couldn’t afford to transfer ourselves to the ‘abroad’ to study nko?
By the time we were dragging ourselves into 300 levels, our ‘abroad’
ex classmates were graduating and returning home to come and complete the mandatory one year youth service and get snatched up by the same establishments that will scrutinize Nigerian-issued degrees with a magnifying glass.
All this while, we were still struggling to graduate fa.
That is the tragic story of a Nigerian trying to navigate the murky waters of government administered tertiary education in Nigeria.
You’d think there was no oversight desk in the ministry of education for the universities, and that is where you’d be wrong.
There is a National Universities Commission with oversight functions over all Nigerian universities. As a matter of fact, Article IV of their highly ambitious functions states that they are a “channel for all external support to the Nigerian universities”.
Grandiloquently ambitious, right?
Well, I used to think that there were only three professions were the proprietors were advised not to be their own best customer and these were all dubious professions: drug dealing, bootlegging and pimping.
Apparently, we also need to add the Nigerian education, health and tourism sectors for which those who hold oversight functions may prescribe, but not patronize the services they are supposed to be ensuring are up to par with their global peers.
In case you missed it, the son of the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission graduated from a tertiary institution in the UK a couple of days ago and the ‘proud father’ attended the graduation ceremony, beaming happily as his son finally scaled one hurdle on the path to starting a career.
Just for the records, ASUU is on strike at the moment; still on strike.
Their demands haven’t been met yet by the FG, so the strike continues.
That may be one definition of providing external support for Nigerian Universities.
Ensuring that you relate with them as it concerns your own kith and kin, ‘externally.’
Actually, there is nothing surprising about this; I just wanted to point it out to you, just in case you missed it.
It is nothing new.
The President and virtually every other elected and appointed politician and administrator, do not patronize any Nigerian service.
The president’s children all schooled and graduated abroad; he patronizes medical practitioners abroad as do 99.9% of the governors and other elected and appointed officials.