Any country moving in the right direction must be able to see that by the amount of patriotism its citizens generate towards national projects. This is easily deducible because for any country that panders only to the whims and caprices of majority of its citizens and not the fancies of a few strongmen, patriotism which translates into love for such a country and actions depicting such love would come naturally.
When patriotism is not forced and thus not frail, it usually translates into something so beautiful and any country bustling with patriotic citizens is a country bubbling with health.
Nigerians have a long history of voting with their feet and putting their money where their mouths are. Through many years of brutal military dictatorships and faltering civilian administrations, Nigerians have come to carve out for themselves a reputation for steadfastness and fortitude.
Perhaps, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) knows this. It would pretty much explain why it has dug in its heels for what seems to be eons.
An interminable strike action
On February 14,2022 which was Valentine`s day, as if to serve Nigerian undergraduate students and by extension Nigerians the most bilious of Valentine gifts, the fragile love story between ASUU and the federal government fell apart. As usual, at the heart of the crisis was a crisis of confidence rooted in failed promises bordering on money and the state of Nigeria`s ivory towers.
What started as some joke has now lasted all of seven months and in that time, many Nigerian undergraduate students have been forced to sit at home and stare into a bleak future. For the university lecturers which have now gone for more than six months without salaries, privation has continued to pummel their faces with its furious fists.
In this time, representative after representative of the federal government has wailed into the media that while the government was doing its best to resolve the impasse, ASUU had taken on the role of on an irritable, implacable child.
The lamentation from government representatives have also included lines painting ASUU as a ruthlessly greedy negotiator whose demands if met would leave the country bankrupt. However, Nigerians know better.
Amidst the relentless talk of austerity, a jamboree has been afoot. When different political parties flocked to their primaries in May and June, prominent members of the ruling APC which presides over a country supposedly pulling itself by its shoestrings were more than happy to gleefully churn out millions of naira as part of the process.
They would argue that it was their money if Nigerians did not know better because in a ruthlessly plundered country where everyone claims never to have stolen in their lives, everyone must bear the toga of thievery.
While ASUU has been on strike because there is no money to meet its demands, a government that does not want to pay members of the union a backlog of salaries for seven months had enough on itself to cross the border into neighboring Niger Republic and play the role of `Father Christmas.’
On the back of the recent order of the National Industrial Court asking ASUU to call off the strike and ask its members to go back to the classroom, the federal government has ordered vice chancellors in the country to reopen universities and resume academic activities. How convenient!
It is sobering that strike actions by ASUU have become an annual ritual as Nigeria continues to negotiate what has been an unbearably tough path to nationhood.
That it continues to come around on a yearly basis is testament to the fact that successive administrations have paid only lip service to commitments to solve the recurrent problems once and for all, electing each time to cut corners, recycle the issues and force Nigerians to rinse and repeat every year.
It is urgent that the deep-rooted issues with Nigeria`s university education are addressed once and for all so that progress can be made. It remains a symbol of systemic rot that Nigeria has not been able to get its university education right after so many years.