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Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume who is a former Attorney-General of Imo State has called for some implementations which would further yield better investment in education to secure the future of teeming young Nigerians.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Rapporteur, Victims of Persecution, made the call in an open letter to relevant officials and institutions of government over the lingering strike of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He said the nation must make a conscious departure from lip service to a functional education system in the Nigerian tertiary education system.
“Suffice it to say, today, you are one of the few persons that providence has positioned to contribute to the destiny of Nigeria and that of our children, and this can only be achieved through a conscious departure from our culture of lip service to functional education in our tertiary institutions,” his open letter dated June 7, 2022, read in part.
The letter was addressed to include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Executive Secretary, National Union Commission (NUC), and the Chairmen, Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Education (Tertiary).
The rest are the National President of ASUU, the Chairman of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, the Secretary of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities (COPSU) and the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
ASUU and other university workers’ unions have been on strike shutting down Nigerian public universities since February.
The unions’ demands, among other things, include better funding for the nation’s public tertiary institutions and improved welfare for their members.
While the government has released 34 billion naira for the payment of minimum wage consequential adjustments from 2019, ASUU maintains it will remain on strike until its core demands are met.
Mr Ume, who expressed worry over the incessant ASUU strike, said the union had embarked on strike not less than 16 times since 1999 to demand better welfare.
This, he said, has disrupted “the much needed academic programs for the students”.
“The result is apparent: most of our youths in the tertiary institutions are retarded to become half-baked minds,” the lawyer stated.
Mr Ume, who described the “repetitive strike actions” by ASUU as “a source of national embarrassment”, blamed the problem on Nigerian ruling class.
“With the interest of the children of the ruling class taken care of, the need to ensure that our educational system is brought to a good standard is relegated to the background.
“This is the irony of the Nigerian rulers’ dichotomy with the Nigerian electorate and populace.”
He lamented that for years, Nigeria has allocated a little percentage of its yearly budget to the educational sector far below the 26 per cent of the annual national budget recommended by UNESCO.
“Indeed, the above is not a good omen. Suffice it to say that the most direct way to stunt the growth of any society is to blur the educational system.
“Is Nigeria substituting education with violence? Soon there could be more guns in Nigeria than books and more kidnapping bushes than libraries,” he stated.