ASUU Strike: My response to Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde’s Questions By Olabode Emmanuel Olawumi

When ASUU embarked on a national strike on July 30, 2013, we thought it was going to be one of their usual threats that would end soon. This time, they have proven to us that they mean real business. I’ve tried my best to sit on the fence where both parties are concerned. While ASUU is claiming to fight for a better educational system in the country, the FG thinks they are being unreasonable in their demands since, they (ASUU) are not the only sick people the country needs to attend to. Some students are of the opinion that the lecturers are only fighting for themselves and disguising to clamour for better educational infrastructures, others are of the view that the FG is just being unjust in fulfilling it’s duties to its citizens. A lot of writers have expressed their thoughts on this issue so I do not intend to bore you with any additional argument or counter-argument.

However, something caught my attention some days back, when I was doing my daily ritual of scouring the internet for the latest gist in town when I came across Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde’s tweets. In her posts, she condemned the prolonged strike and it’s devastating effect on the lives of the leaders of tomorrow.

I must commend Omotola’s boldness to share her views on the ongoing feud between the lecturers and the federal government, being the first celebrity to address the topic.

The screen goddess wrote:

“Education is a right, not a privilege. This should be the first responsibility of every parent, state and country to their child. Why are students of the most populous black nation in the world, ‘Giant of Africa,’ not in school?

“Where are all the educational funds? Why is there a crippling silence when Nigerian schools have been shut for almost four months and the youths are wasting away with their future uncertain? Our youths should spare sometime to think. Youths, your destiny is in your hand.”

I’ll like to make a rejoinder to the cogent questions and points that the celebrity made in her tweets, the first being, “Education is a right, not a privilege.” Dear Omotola, I’m the last person that will be convinced that education in Nigeria is a right and not a privilege. We all know that everything the government does for us in this country is not a right, it’s a privilege. Have you ever wondered why we scream ‘Up Nepa’ when PHNC blinks our lights? Why do we get overwhelmed when roads turned death traps suddenly gets reconstructed by a particular administration? Our public office holders don’t cease to attract all the media attention they can get once they buy a new patrol vehicle, provide a bore-hole plant for a community or even grade a minor road under their jurisdiction. What they are trying to tell us is that ‘you’ve never enjoyed this kind of infrastructure in previous administrations. This is the best I can offer you. Enjoy it while it lasts.” It’s obvious that once you can’t afford to enrol in a private educational institution – primary, secondary and tertiary and you gain admission into a public school, you should count yourselves lucky that you even have access to the classroom. “We are only doing the ‘unfortunate’ ones a favour. Let them live with it or ‘port’ to private schools if they can afford it.” I’m sure that would be their thoughts. Education is a right only if your parents can afford it, not if your government can afford it. I’ve come to accept this bitter truth with my experience in public educational institutions.

You asked: ‘Why are students of the most populous black nation in the world, ‘Giant of Africa,’ not in school? I wouldn’t mind to give you my sincere answers. We are not in school, not only because our lecturers have refused to teach us and our government has refused to sponsor us but for the fact that we seem less interested in school these days. My dear role model, I can’t remember reading about you completing your degree in the University, but you’ve been listed as one of Time 100 most influential people on earth. Africa’s richest man, Dangote is not a university graduate. World’s richest man, Bill Gates is a college drop out. Wizkid has dropped out of school. If degrees had less effect on these people we so much respect and want to be like, why should ours be different. Afterall, it’s easier to be a militant or a religious extremist and get compensated by the government for rehabilitation than pass through school and get a job after you graduate. Most of us are on the streets, honing our skills, hustling and making ends meet. We are getting street wise rather than being school wise because we don’t want to be slaves to our fellow men anymore. What is the educational qualification or background of our corrupt politicians who oppress us with their wealth? School won’t give us the time to record songs, attend auditions, go for seminars, enrol in entrepreneurship lessons, start a business because of their archaic educational syllabus.

Did I hear you ask: ‘Where are all the educational funds?’ That’s a very deep information I don’t have at my disposal. I bet you can use your influence to ask for the audit reports from the people concerned. Ask our Vice Chancellors how they utilize the internal revenues generated by their respective Universities’. The education minister and other stakeholders should give a well-detailed account of how the industry has been managed in the last eight years. Don’t be amazed by the results you get.

“Why is there a crippling silence when Nigerian schools have been shut for almost four months and the youths are wasting away with their future uncertain?”, I guess I’ve addressed that above so I would spare you the repetition.

You ended your tweets by encouraging us to ‘spare sometime to think” that our destiny is in our hand.” Well, I’ll say a reasonable amount of our destiny is in our hand while the remaining part lies in how our environment influences us. With our strong will, creativity and passion for excellence, we’ll become whoever we choose to be. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that the journey will be easier under a better and favourable environment.

Thanks for lending your voice and I hope I’ve been able to contribute my quota to the matter at hand.

Like my friend will always say at the end of his articles, I’ll get a cup of coffee, sit back, relax and watch things unfold.

God bless Nigeria!

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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