By Taiwo Ademola
In 2011, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, described Nigeria’s educational system as a colossal failure and called for the declaration of a state of emergency in the sector. At a later date, Soyinka in fact went on to propose a shutdown of all tertiary institutions for two years to enable the adequate tackling of the ‘inherent rot’. To him, the deplorable state is perhaps irreparable except if given such attention as becoming of sectors where state of emergency is/are declared.
The erudite professor, though means well, did not take into cognizance how different his understanding and interpretation of such word as emergency is to complacent Nigerian governments (both at the national and state levels). While he and well-meaning Nigerians worry over how illiteracy level has gotten to such disgraceful height; a situation whereby being an artisan is comparable, and even thought of as better than being a university graduate, the latter grossly termed with such unregistered colloquial as graduate illiterate, the governments seems not lose a sleep over the issue. And to think they wouldn't mind permitting any small wind to destabilise the already crumbling system is worrisome.
It is now close to three months since Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, has been shut down due to the non-payments of the institution worker’s salaries and entitlements for quite some months now. And sadly, nothing hitherto has revealed the genuine interest of the two governments who jointly own the school, other than a statement from the Permanent Secretary of the Osun state ministry of education, Mr Festus Olajide, who in the as- usual-Nigeria-government rhetoric said, the government will see into the issue. Of course, it is everyone’s prayer that Nigeria will one day reach a level where the government will stop seeing into everything without doing something really about it. That statement has been well over four weeks now, and nothing yet has been done to address the situation.
The response of the Osun state government to the strike action though lacking in conviction as evidenced in the fact that the strike still linger on, could be lauded if one considers the I-don't- care disposition of the Oyo state government to the situation.
Or are we to relate this immoral act of neglect and outright nonchalance to the nation's economy since the nation’s economy seems now to be the new reason for every single problem in the country. Even the nation's economic paralysis is in no way separable from the dilapidating education sector, for if the knowledge impacted by universities and other higher learning institutions had been commensurable with the yearly turn outs of graduates, we wouldn't have probably been plunged in such economic catastrophe as we presently are. And it is quite counter intuitive to conceive of it that a government that is serious about economic resuscitation is at the same time crippling the education sector in neither paying education worker's salaries and entitlements as and when due, nor improving the institution's state of infrastructure.
It is not a sin if the Osun and Oyo governments admit to their inability to rescue the situation. Doing this may attract the attention of the federal government to render whatever help it can, or perhaps, assume ownership of the institution if even for a short term or outright.
It is now high time successive governments in the two states stop using student's lives to play the game of dice. The constancy of the strike actions by the school staffs mostly due to unpaid salaries and entitlements is merely a reflection of gross impotence which simply could be cured by calling for help or sitting for a review of the university's ownership, or perhaps handing the university over to the federal government. . This strike should not just be called off in a scrupulous manner as typical of others. The key reasons must be considered to forestall future occurrences. If that is not done, it merely reveals how students' interest is after all not important in the decision process, something which naturally should not have been the case. Responsibility demands proactive and sincere actions. So as we to say #Reopenlautech and we want the whole troubles affiliated with the constant strike action resolved once and for all.
Taiwo Ademola, a fresh graduate of LAUTECH, is a supporter of Education Rights Campaign (ERC)