The lingering strike of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has taken an unnecessarily long period. When the Academic Staff of Union of Universities (ASUU) was on strike, it was as though the whole of Nigerian students or parents would not sleep. Religious leaders, groups and individuals of influence had a lot to say about it as they pleaded with the government and ASUU to resolve their differences. It is not same with ASUP strike. Isn’t it because we place more emphasis on universities than their polytechnic counterparts?
In Nigeria, education, especially tertiary education, has ceased to be a right long ago; it is a privilege. To be a university or polytechnic student is a thing of chance. There are those who are not in any and there are many too who pursued university admission fervently but who ended up in polytechnics, especially in a Nigeria where we fight for nearly everything. The preference for university graduates as against their polytechnic mates by employers does not help matter either. The dichotomy between a university and polytechnic graduate is an issue government has not done enough to resolve.
On the current elongated strike embarked upon by polytechnic teachers, it is regrettable just as it is totally unthinkable for tertiary institutions to be closed down for eight months due to an industrial action linked to government’s neglect.
The most affected group in any industrial action affecting tertiary education institutions in Nigeria remains the students. Nigerian students (who are of the voting age) do not however know that there is a lot of power in their hands – particularly in their thumbs. The power they possess goes beyond taking to the streets to protest against unjust government actions and inactions. It goes beyond carrying placards on the street of Lagos or in a remote campus in any part of Nigeria.
The population of the Nigerian youth is staggering and when it comes to election, they have a big role to play. The youth of today can decide who should be their head through the power of their vote. It is left for them and their parents to decide who leads them come 2015.
The ASUP strike and the unnecessary dichotomy between the Bachelor of Science and the Higher National Diploma degrees need to be attended to. The employers of labour need to come to the full understanding that in getting the work done, delivery on the job and not paper qualification is what matters. There is hardly anybody who has not had enough of this unnecessary neglect of duties by the government. We need a change.