History has it that after our Independence, Nigerian schools and universities in particular were centres of destination for students from European, Asian and other African countries who came in drove to pursue their educational career. The account has it that there were high admission enrolments of foreigners in our schools and the diverse people in the Universities then made it interesting.
Historian hinted that this was not only observed on student angle alone, as it was as well seen in the lecturing as intellectuals from different part of the world came Nigeria to secure employment and lecture full-time.
During this time, the quality of our graduates was superb and steadfastness in our school calendar makes it possible for parent to vividly predict when likely their wards would finish their program. The academic calendar during this time was not associated with unnecessary strike action by lecturers on account of anything.
During this time, the federal government in Nigeria was not from heaven nor administered by professors. It was not in any way little different to what we have today yet lecturers in the schools gave out their best leading to high class of graduates. During this period, the lecturers were not the most paid individuals in Nigeria nor were they always in competition with political office holders, in terms of remuneration. Even though we had Nigeria Union of Universities Teachers as a trade Union then, they never engaged in anything that jeopardise students’ career. The lecturers took lecturing as passion by offering their best to students.
At this period of time, Nigeria government never budgeted 1/3 of their annual budgetary allocation to University alone and all the Universities as put together then never had equivalent of N1trillion Naira which the present ASUU is clamouring for today. The infrastructural development in our schools neither was it top class nor can it be said to compete favourably with Oxford University standard in London. The lecturers never stayed in air conditioned office nor complained of not having such yet Nigeria Universities were among the best in the world.
When federal government introduced free feeding for students in our Universities, there was nothing like ASUU and neither does any University trade union came to the rescue of students when the same welfarism was abolished too.
Sequel to the above, education in Nigeria began to dwindle with the coming of ASUU in 1980s. The poor quality in our education sector began to set in when the new crop of lecturers began to view lecturing as means of richness rather than passion unlike we had observed immediately after independence and before 80s.
The poor quality of education began to set it when lecturers would stay at home for months and after calling of strike set out exam for school to take them to the next class without any thorough lecture. Our education began to dwindle when Lecturers under the aegis of ASUU starts dictating to federal government on what they should be receiving and the platform federal government should pay them with.
Poor education began to set it when lecturers makes buying of hand-out compulsory for students and instruct them that failure to purchase it implies automatic failure of the course. Poor education began to set in when lecturers began to complain that they are being paid peanut when compare to the jumbo salary and allowances of the political office holders.
Truth be told, even though federal government has their own side of weakness, from my finding ASUU and all other associated tertiary instruction Unions are the biggest culprits as they are only using Students as shield in their quest for improve condition of services. If I am not mistaking, what has improved in the Universities since ASUU’s formation? Education is always on decline and the little federal government had given have not translated to the production of Nigerian-made fire matches from their research work.
– Stephen Shaibu Ojate, a Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Abuja. He is on facebook and reachable by phone call and on whatsapp via 09075716236