By: Fawole Israel
THE CRY OF A NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENT:A SOLIDARITY CALL FOR SANITY
Segun Alara,(fictional name), an indigene of Ibadan ,the largest native municipality in sub-sharan Africa , situated between the grassy plains of the guinea savannah and the verdant expands at tropical rainforest , the capital city of the old great Oyo Empire now Oyo state and also a neighboring state to the old mighty Ife Empire now state of Osun. He (Segun) joyfully gained admission into a foremost University of Technology in Nigeria to study Electronics/Electrical Engineering in the year 2009, friends and families could hardly grab some peaceful moment as he kept reiterating his joyful story into their ears, friends rolled out drums, family members threw parties, all meant to celebrate his triumphant entry into a University but seven years after Segun is still struggling to complete his eight semester. Many people have queried his duration in school but is it the government’s fault who has failed to take education so seriously and has refused to give subventions to institutions and take up other responsibilities, Segun’s fault, educational Unions’ (ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT) fault whom in the cause of demanding the government do their responsibilities resolve to strike actions or the fault of his parent that couldn’t afford the tuition fee of a private University?.
The lamentable and mourning state of our educational sector needs alacritous attention and the sinking ship of our educational sector needs a rescue. I will not go too far, but rather pitch my tent at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo state. A state university co-owned the state governments of Oyo and Osun state.
Ladoke Akintola University of Technologhy has been embroiled in crisis for over a month now. The students are at home as a result that the management declared an indefinite semester break a week to exams as a result of ASUU’s refusal to submit examination questions in demand for their twenty-two months arrears of allowances and salaries of some few months. In their demand they demand that the owner state governments take up their civic responsibility and properly fund the university. The university hosted by Oyo and Osun state is sinking gradually as SSANU and NASU chapter of the institution declared an indefinite strike owing to the looming financial crisis.
It is, however, very unfortunate that Gov. Abiola Ajimobi and Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, who are visitors to the university allowed matters to degenerate to such ugly length due to their non-challance and complete disregard for public tertiary education in Oyo and Osun state. The Lautech snub started about six years ago when the Oyo State Government and Osun State Government under the administration of Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola started a case on the ownership of the institution, this ownership tussle between the states led to the two owner states completely abandoning Lautech to its fate, and in struggle to cater for the expenditures of the institution the management had to increase the tuition fee of the students from #40,000 to #150,000.
The solidarity protest response of the students to the sky rocketed fee led to the closure of the school for over three months then. Amid the protest of Lautech students against the 2010 increment, the management and the owner state governments of the University also embarked on an aggressive propaganda to water down the backlash of the public against the fee hike. The central premise of the argument by the management against the fee hike solidarity was; complaint over the dwindle subventions from the owner states government and the need to develop and sustain quality in the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, hence students must pay. But quite after a long protest of the students a consensus was reaches among the students and the management and the hike saw a reduction from #150,000 to #65,000 for the indigenes of the owner states and #72,000 for the non-indigene students and the acceptance fee of the fresh students to be #20,000. The recent increment in the acceptance fee of the fresh students seems to be another beginning of increment of fee in the institution. Barely three years after the hike, the managements’ arguments haw been debunked by realities of things we can see with our naked eyes, while the increment has failed to justify its existence according to the estimation of the fee hike.
This nagging crisis of almighty ASUU refusal to submit examination questions which led to the closure of the school has afforded me the time to have a closer or let me say a personal review of the ‘holy gholistic’ increment of the tuition. Looking through the estimation on the tuition receipt, I kept on fixedly gazing on the development fee of #30, 000 out of the twelve listed estimation. Then questions heaped on my mind ‘development of what …’ an obvious pellucid reason for is , so far ,is the condition Lautech has been during the time when fee was #40,000 and now make no major difference. Well, consoling myself, the money was probably used to pay the workers’ salaries before the educational unions in the university unleash their wrath of strike against the management since the owner state governments never consider the funding of education that paramount to the development of the country. And today it is another great testimony to Nigerian corruption as the money meant for the development of the institution is being diverted to payment of salaries since the government has shy away from their responsibilities. Ladoke Akintola University needs fervent prayer for it to recover from its perilous declination. The grandeur, ivory towerness and charm of modern universities are absent in Lautech. The door ways have no doors, the windows have no louvers. The rustic and perilously hanging ceiling fans have not worked for over a decade. The environmental stench drifting even into the classrooms is overpowering. Lecturers offices are not much better than the afore described classrooms. This can be very shocking information to other undergraduates but Great Ladokites” have taken this aberration in their strides.
Remuneration and welfare packages for Lautech lecturers are better kept secret to prevent the hearer suffering a breakdown. What do we expect from a university where allowances arrears can sum up to twenty-two months talk less of complete basic salary.
Lautech educational unions should unite with the Vice Chancellor to present a combined strength to challenge the two owner states government’s unwillingness to invest in infrastructural improvement and development of the school. The VC too is helpless in the face of the Governor’s intransigence and unwillingness to modernize facilities on campus.
It is highly regrettable and unfortunate that Gov. Abiola Ajimobi and Mr Raur Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun state is heeding the advice of their conservative political godfathers whose private universities’ admissions will swell as a result of the Lautech crisis or any crisis in the public University system.
This inscrutable stance is understandable when we realise that in Nigeria today, nearly every governor or the wife has a university or is directly or remotely connected to the proprietorship of private universities. And so for the private universities to grow, the public universities must be unfunded to create an atmosphere of confusion and indefinite strikes.
Nigerian leaders are not well educated on the intrinsic value of education for the total development of its Citizenry and economy. Education is the only lifetime you can throw at a drowning man to rescue him. It is the only social fabric and infrastructure that can
guarantee an assured tomorrow.
President J.F. Kennedy of America once said: “Our progress as a nation cannot be swifter than our progress as a nation”. That is, education is the bedrock and surest index for development in the American society. That is why Harvard, Yale and Massachusetts Institution of Technology have overtaken British universities in global rankings.
Horace Mann a great philosopher postulates that “a human being is not in any sense a human being, till he is educated”. Henry Peter Brougham says further: “Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave”. But it was the great and
famous Greek Philosopher – Aristotle who hit the nail on the head. He said: “Educated men (and women) are as superior to uneducated men (and women), as the living are to the dead”.
So of what economic benefit are millions of “living dead men” to the country? Today Oyo and Osun State is the world’s capital of Area Boys. In fact, the government has now recognized Area Boys and given them uniforms of many colors, starting from the congenitally corrupt, crude and undisciplined YES-O and O-YES officials whose modus operandi outdates Shakespearean times and the two Governors are aware of all these.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun state should move their priority from environmental sanitations and their pro-rich and anti-poor capitalist policies to funding of education because it is the only legacy that will outlast our roads and and airports. I
have seen wonderfully adorned roads and boulevards but truly they do not last, just like ogbomsho-oyo express road that has turned to a blood sucking monster need to be reconstructed.
True, Oyo and Osun indigenes and elders should prevail on the two governors Abiola Ajimobi and Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun state to leave an enviable record on education that will transform the image and economic strength of the presently average state to one of the
greatest economies in the world. After all, California is the world’s fourth largest economy in spite of the fact that it is a dependent state within America. Our States can be like California if we make education our priority. Gov. Abiola Ajimobi and Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of Oyo and Osun state can do this by unconditionally reopening all closed tertiary institutions and seconday schools in States and investing heavily on education.
Fawole Israel Olamiposi writes from Ibadan , he is an undergraduate in a Nigerian University .