ASUP Strike Update 19 April, 2014: Who bears the brurnt?
What is happening presently in the Nigeria Education sector call for many questions, just like many other right thinking Nigerians have been asking, but without answer. The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics ASUP has embarked on strike for quite sometimes now, and nothing positive is coming out of the strike.
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), for over nine months, has been on an indefinite strike to demand for an approved salary package and also proper funding of the Polytechnics’ Education. While the Federal Government has, through the supervising Minister of Education, continued to praise itself for doing its best to make Polytechnics give quality education, the striking teachers, supposedly not fighting for their pockets, have criticised the government for relegating the Polytechnic Education in the scheme of things.
Like the proverbial grass on the fabled field where two elephants fight, the students whose educational pursuits have been put on hold for the past nine months are the victim of this protracted strike that has paralysed activities in all Federal Polytechnics in Nigeria.
While I applaud the recent intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan, I wish to state categorically that this intervention was long overdue as the effect of the strike on students is worse than its aggregate effect on various sectors of the economy.
For the benefit of doubt, ASUP had a genuine reason for embarking on the industrial action. The Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike said the Government has concluded negotiation by paying ASUP members in two instalments to liquidate the over N40 billion owed the workers in arrears and also, The Federal Government has tackled over 90 per cent of the lecturers demands but the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics are not ready to shift ground, they remain adamant to their demands.The Union said their action is not borne out of any selfish interest, but is to salvage the Polytechnic Education in Nigeria.
The Government has, over the years, paid lip service to the development of Polytechnic Education. But, in the course of the struggle, ASUP erred by not putting the interest of the average Nigerian students at heart again. The warring parties may claim they have rights to maintain their stance, but It is quite clear even to the blind that the Government and to some extent ASUP have lost track of their cardinal objectives towards educational development.
Keeping this large number of Student out of school with little or nothing to do is very dangerous. A number of them will be a readily available tool for mischief makers to use. Politicians will now have ready made political thugs for recruitment. Since they said, an idle mind is a devil workshop.
There has been an upsurge in crime rate over the last nine months and this is definitely the consequence of the unending strike. In the Niger Delta, oil bunkering is on the increase as criminals are massively expanding the frontier of their illegal business by initiating idle students to join the bad ventures.
Female students, who do not have means of support, engage in prostitution to keep themselves busy.
There has been increase also in vices such as rape, kidnapping, armed robbery and hooliganism.
The alarming rate of social vices is a direct consequence of able youths being kept idle. For, it is out of place for people, especially youths to be idle.
Idleness breeds evil thinking, which is subsequently put into practice. Idleness corrupts good manners and an idle person is easily influenced. While some students managed to engage themselves productively by engaging in one vocation or the other, there are others who have not been very fortunate in doing the same.
One begins to question the priority of this government, for instance the repentant militants who are undergoing training for skills acquisition have never been toyed with like the way the lives and education of Polytechnic students are handled by this government.
As we eagerly await an end to the strike, it is expected that all grey areas would be appropriately discussed, it is also my hope that there will be a leap in state of Technical Education for the betterment of future generations. This older generation must strive not to leave a poor Technical education system to generations yet unborn.
Article Writer: Yakubu Temitope Tajudeen; A Public Affairs Analyst writes from Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
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