Before We Shut The Nation Down!


Seems like the hip thing in our nation’s public sector is for everyone to go on strike. With the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) nagging strike that has brought the Public tertiary education system to a halt for months now; Resident Doctors and  recently Consultants also striking;
and  PHCN, NUPENG, PENGASSAN and more disheartening, the Police Force (rumour tho) threatening to join! *sic*
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Every public sector organization seems to be fancying the strike idea as a “new found” easy way to get whatever they want from the government and by so doing get their own “share’ of the proverbial National Cake.

I do not clearly understand why ASUU have totally refused to renegotiate with the FG and have refused to budge and shift ground despite FG’s efforts.  I also am yet to decipher why the FG on its part have refused to honour the much touted 2009 agreement which it entered into with the union.

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If you ask me what my opinion is on the ASUU-FG imbroglio, I really wouldn’t say that I support either party. All that matters to me-and I believe to every well meaning Nigerian-is that the strike is called off, and the quality and state of our tertiary institutions are upgraded to meet international standards.
It appears that Public sector employees are becoming more and more envious of politicians and public office holders to the point that they would rather rip the nation off and put their selfish interests before those of the Country. It’s amazing that even the recently retired PHCN employees, many of whom received millions of naira each in retirement benefits still complain of unfair treatment, inadequate funding and all what not!

Imagine if the Police, the Army, Navy, Airforce, Nurses and Midwives, All Doctors, Pilots, FAAN, NAMA, NCAA, NAFDAC, Customs, Immigration, and a whole lot of other government and public sector apparati were to down tools at the same time for pay grievances… the entire nation would be grounded!

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Several groups have lamented the increasing rate of prostitution and general crime as a direct result of the inactivity of students due to the ASUU strike. I even read of a student attempting suicide! But come to think of it, is it not the same ASUU that produces the Nigerian graduates which they still turn back and call “half-baked’? And the question I ask is “Who baked them”?
Not like the students particularly love and miss schooling in itself, but rather they miss those extra-curricular activities that they get to engage in when not under the watchful and perhaps disapproving eyes of their parents/guardians–like music, sports, acting, modeling, and even engaging in some business activities.

I still think that for the students who feel dispassionate and wasted, sitting at home because of the strike, they should rather engage themselves in something useful. I remember saying in a post on this blog on my birthday (April 27th) that “education is important, but not an absolute necessity”. I still stand by that school of thought. Afterall, even when the kids are done with school and are graduates, there are hardly any jobs for them to get gainfully employed into. Most end up joining the ever growing “army of the unemployed” Sad!

Before we shut the nation down with all our striking, let’s ask ourselves: Who are we doing disservice to? What happens if everybody else were to go on strike? What becomes the prevailing inflation rate and inflationary tendencies of billions being doled out to some group of the burgeoise-in layman’s English, what happens to the price of garri in the market, when a class of people now are lush with excess cash?

What happens after a child spends four, five or perhaps six to seven years in school studying a particular course, graduates and finds out after graduation that there are no jobs and the course s/he studied is virtually irrelevant in the Nigerian labour market? Do the Universities not generate funds within themselves from School Fees and other levies? Where are those funds? Who controls them?

What happens if the government pays her employees (public sector workers) well enough that they don’t need to envy politicians and political office holders? What if these people are paid on time and as at when due rather than after 3, 4 or even 6 months? What happens if politicians and political office holders take pay cuts (did i hear someone scream IMPOSSIBLE) and slash their over-bloated budgets, bonuses, allowances and allocations?  Why would a politician use public funds to the tune of  $1.6m to purchase bullet proof cars for whatever reason (Well, that's just one corrupt story that happened to make the news, a lot more goes on that we never ever hear about)? What is the moral or economic justification?

I think it’s high time we tell ourselves some hard truth and ask some real questions before we shut our country down!

Below are some tweets by some Nigerians on this strike issue:
@daily_trust: End strike now, #Jonathan begs #ASUU @ikhide: Sell Tinubu & Oduah’s bullet proof cars. Give the money to ASUU.
@ikhide: Good will come out of ASUU’s intransigence- the privatization of public educational institutions. ASUU is writing her will. Good riddance.
@ikhide: Our public institutions need to be weaned of a culture of privilege and entitlement by introducing a motivating force: Competition.
@ikhide: ASUU should ask for bullet proof cars for lectures, to protect them from the irsate students thay have taught to say, “it doesn’t worth it!”

Written by Precious Nwanganga © 2013
Follow him on twitter @Pmoney_Talks

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