ASUU strike as it turns students to artisans
Clairvoyants around the world should please hurry down to Nigeria for their service is well needed around here. Their coming now will be a little too late but it is better late than never. Since ours is a nation with great predilection for strikes, their being of service to us will help us make the most of industrial actions we experience here.
Of course, having seers around will mitigate the effects of strikes on our lives, making it a thing to exploit, not to deplore. For, given the right information, we have the capacity to turn a seemingly unpleasant circumstance to a wonderful one. And this we can actualise as regards strike, if we had forecasters within our reach.
It is a common knowledge that Nigeria has enough clairvoyants. In fact, the country is brimming with them. From the gods of men in Lagos synagogues to the ordinary man at the street corner who would always correctly tell you the team to carry a match even when the game is still afoot.
We have them here. It is just that they have not redirected their ability to this all-important area so needed by Nigerians. Given their wizardry in the act, I don't want to believe that telling when a strike would end is too much a thing for them to foresee. No it can't be, not when these men stay in Nigeria and predict what is to happen overseas and it happens just as they presaged.
With this established, let us then call on them to look inwards. Perhaps, they may by that begin to receive honour in their country. Actually, these gifted people should be in the employ of the government. It is not out of place to demand that. Since government is notorious for carrying about in a manner that triggers strike, let it make available for us seers who will provide us with the telling that would help us manage our lives while industrial actions last.
Today's subject is informed by a report I read which has it that the strike embarked upon by ASUU since July 2, 2013 has forced many students in Abeokuta and its environs to register for various vocational trainings. The report revealed that the students, tired of idling about at home and spurred by their parents, took up vocational trainings in tailoring, hairdressing, auxiliary nursing, electronic repairs, shoe making, carpentry etcetera.
One Bisi Adedeji, who is a student of History and Diplomatic Studies at the Tai Solarin University, Ijebu-Ode, said, “I voluntarily told my parents I wanted to learn the trade after realising that a solution to the strike is not in sight and looking ahead for employment benefits after acquiring the degree certificates which is in doubt. I quickly decided to learn the trade for my benefits and to be independent and an employer of labour.”
Most of the students interviewed said they were tired of sitting at home and have grown to be passionate about their training, adding that the current high rate of unemployment in the country and the challenges of getting a white collar jobs led them into going for the training. For Mr Femi Shodunke, whose ward is an undergraduate, the strike may be a blessing in disguise as many of the students may end up using the trade learnt while it lasted to better their lives in future.
As laudable as this initiative of the undergraduates may be, I have one fear for them which is that the strike may be called off at any moment thus putting the kibash on the completion of their trainings.
Some of them may have opted not to go for this training immediately the strike began because of this fear. Seeing the lingering slant the strike has taken: they may sign in for the training on the seventh week only for it called off on the nineth week. In that scenario, will the two weeks be enough to provide them with all the knowledge required for the craft?
It is for this reason that we should be availed the service of seers who will readily tell us at the outset of an industrial action how many months it is to last. Better still, any of the two sides to the trade dispute should be magnanimous to let us know the length of days the strike would take, for both of them are in a position to.
Hence, it is not enough for ASUU to tell us that they are embarking on a “total and indefinite strike”. In as much as they left us a clue in that, the union could have gone further to tell us the exact number of days it can wait on the Federal Government after which it would accept its fate and return to the classroom trusting God to intervene in the matter. You know that is what we are good at: beckoning on the Almighty for help in issues we can glaringly take care of by ourselves.
In the same vein, the Federal Government can spill the beans as regards when they intend to make the lecturers return to work. They can simply disclose how long they would want to call off the bluff of ASUU. Although the Finance Minister's claim that government has no money to foot the N92 billion demands of ASUU is instructive, she could have added that ASUU could therefore remain on strike till the end of the life of this administration for all they care.
If only she had been that generous with the above line, then would Nigerian students know they have over a year to toy with. With that in mind, don't be surprised when you see them become more of an artisan than a student whenever the strike is called off. In the hostels you will be sure to find sowing machines and other equipment littered over the place. There is even a great probability that you may find students trying to fix their clients' vehicles under that tree in front of their dorm while lectures are going on in their classes.
But cheerio for this is just a supposition. My fear is that that mocking remark of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF) spells the possibility bringing this to life. At a recent meeting between the government and ASUU over the impasse, SGF- Anyim Pius Anyim had ridiculed to the amusement of those on government's side that the Minister of Education should “go and give them(ASUU) N400 billion,”
It is the fact that such a scornful statement can come from a senior government official like him that makes one understand why more students are enrolling for artisanal trainings. That pejorative remark is much of a pointer to how long it will take for the strike to be called off. If only these people will speak in plain languages so that poor students would understand their fate. But since they wouldn't, let them at least employ forecasters to come to rescue of students.
But seriously speaking, do we really need the services of clairvoyants? And do we indeed need parties to the industrial action telling us when they will culminate the strike? I know the answers to these questions are required to guide undergraduates who would want to use the time-out to enter for artisanal training, however, here is another poser: Are our students supposed to punctuate their university education with accidental skills acquisition programmes?
These goes to show that there is truly no alternative to ending the current strike that has crippled activities at the nation's public universities. On that score, it is incumbent on ASUU and the government to work sincerely for the quick resolution of this impasse that has the potency of turning our young ones into artisans rather than scholars.
It's not even as if they will be good artisans as their trainings will ultimately be disrupted by the call-off of the strike. Further, they may not have fixed their entire mind on learning the craft since their ernest expectation would be for the strike to be called off. Similarly, the possibility that they would not see the end of the trainings could tamper their devotion to the vocational tutelage.
It is bad enough that the country is already reputed to be overflowing with half-baked graduates, let's not make it worse by creating room for half-baked artisans as well. It's high time academic activities is allowed to resume in our public universities.