There is no gainsaying that university institutions are scattered across the country in drove, yet students are not learning in them, instead they languish and are frustrated at home. More so, the lecturers who are supposed to nurture and guarantee solid knowledge on the youth are idling away at home or hanging around the school premises without doing what they know best. Disappointingly, the President is in office but the government is not really concerned about the future of the youth, hence the lingering Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike. In the face of all this, the feelings among the people is with mixture of great surprise and astonishment as the ruling government remains a huge theatre of intrigues and the scrambling for the national cake remains the most common business for political leaders.
It is for this reason therefore, that the place for sacrifice and service are eroded as politicians enrich themselves through sharp practices while some are being selfish in pursuit of political power. Notwithstanding the shenanigan, life goes on, even as the people are at loss regarding the part of government conduct towards education. What makes the matter still more extraordinary surprising is that, Nigeria’s education sector remains the most maligned institution in the country as little or no attention is given to it. Indeed, the insensitiveness on the side of government towards education provides a dramatic illustration of how a beautiful theory can be murdered by a gang of brutal facts.
The theory is that education is regarded as the soul of the nation and the key to a secured future. Hence, the allusion that knowledge is power and people are driven to seek it. But what are the facts? Shamefully of course, the continued ASUU strike and governments nonchalant attitude towards education makes it very difficult for one to be optimistic about the prospect education can give younger generation and the nation in particular.
Therefore, the million dollar question begging for answer remains, if truly the youth would earn a bright future through education, why has government continued its lip-service and unwillingness to adequately fund the education sector? The need to improve the education system in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasised seeing the devastation insecurity is causing at the moment. In the last decade, government continue to pay deaf ears as education stakeholders draw the nation’s attention to the poor funding in the sector, particularly in terms of research and adequate remuneration of lecturers. At the moment, the situation in the education sector is not only worsening, it has become a discouraging phenomenon for the youth as many are no longer enthusiastic about university education.
However, the other day, the federal government seems to have woken up from slumber as President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered the minister of education and its Labour counterpart to within a fortnight make sure ASUU strike becomes history and lecturers return to the classroom. Without a wink or elation the citizens saw such orders as laughable as Nigerians did not see any hope in it. First, it is not tenable to resolve the ASUU industrial dispute by mere presidential proclamation and second, the president is fond of dishing out orders that never see the light of day, in terms of carrying it out. Instead it is usually flouted stylishly with disregard. In the not too distant past, the former Chief of Army staff, Tukur Yusuf Brutai blatantly disobeyed a presidential order to relocate to Benue state to restore law and order when terrorists reigns supreme in that state at that time, of course, there is still pockets of terrorist attacks there even as I write.
Today, the reality about education in Nigeria clearly reveals that government is not willing or interested in raising education budget to the minimum 26 per cent recommended by the United Nations over a decade ago. Currently, Nigeria’s education sector seems to be at the crossroad and this should be a cause for concern for well-meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in particular. However, as earlier noted, it has got to a point that the youth now have a second thought and began to suspect that education has no future in them and are therefore, indulging in criminality in search of quick money.
Before becoming president, Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) made irresistible mind blowing promises and cited education as a way to end poverty in the country. Such statements goes beyond mere rhetoric, besides president Buhari just reinforced what is already known. What is expected of the Buhari administration is to improve the education sector funding adequately. It is disheartening that, aside the ASUU strike, education in Nigeria has been greatly affected by insecurity as schools are being shut down because of fear of terrorist attack. The other day, a school in Abuja was closed and pupils were asked to go home as a result of security report that it might be attacked by terrorists. Of course, this came from the heels of an attack on the Brigade of Guard convoy in Abuja. This singular action of government ordering school’s closure is given the terrorists an edge and particularly so as one of the tenets of the Boko Haram is to show dislike towards education.
The political leaders must not only believe in education through speeches, but see that its light shines on the youth by adequate funding and securing our schools against attacks. The miserable condition at which we find education today, reminds every right thinking individual that the deteriorating nature of the sector is as a result of poor leadership. Without being prodded, what the ruling government ought to do without hesitation is to meet ASUU demands immediately. However, it is jaw dropping to know that the government is currently paying more attention and focus on the fort coming elections than anything else. If truly the youth are the future leaders, the continued poor standard of education will not help the nation and the government should do everything possible to pull education out from the quagmire. This is because a government that does not have depth of vision about education would be compounded by inability to create a salubrious environment for development. It is a national embarrassment of intense proportions that Mr President’s orders are hardly seen to be carried out.