As the public universities workers continue to stay away from work over long-standing unresolved issues with the federal government, The Concerned Parents and Educators led by Founder, Mrs Yinka Ogunde, on Monday, in Lagos, joined the Education reporters in the country to protest the continued closure of the nation’s public universities, demanding their immediate reopening.
The peaceful protest was organised by the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN), a body of journalists across print, broadcast and online media organisations, who report education in the country as part of their advocacy interventions beyond reporting.
The protesters with various banner and placards stating their demands including “Immediate reopening of all public universities,” “No to incessant strikes,” “Improved budgetary allocation to education,” “End to the proliferation of academic institutions,” “End to the politicisation of education” and “Appointment of a competent hand as an education minister,” among others moved from the Lagos Television premises at Agidingbi through the government secretariat to the Governor’s Office where they presented their letter to the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu for onward delivery to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the letter signed by the EWAN chairman and Head of Development Desk, Premium Times, Mr Mojeed Alabi, EWAN expressed disappointment that both the federal government and the university workers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), could again afford to ground the activities on ivory towers after about the first one-year industrial action and another year of general lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
The union said the action of both the government and the university workers to allow the youths to stay idle for several months when they suppose to be productively engaged with their studies and without considering the grave consequences including rising ritual killings, armed robbery, kidnappings, cyber crimes and so forth is a clear demonstration of their non-sensitivity to the cry of the masses.
They said it is not news that the majority of them don’t have their children in public schools, they should allow the children of the poor who are more than 80 per cent of students in the country to have access to uninterrupted learning.
According to EWAN, it is worrisome that in this age when other countries which value genuine development are running on a knowledge-based economy, where teenagers and youths are immersed in critical thinking and innovative skills to solve societal problems, Nigeria which prides itself giant of Africa is glued to its past of shutting doors of knowledge against its own youths.
“We can never develop as a country towing that path.
“Education across levels needs to be fixed and also receiving a steady attention.
“So, we want the people particularly President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet members, who are in control of public funds to inject enough money into the education system and stop politicising the affairs of the sector.
“Let Nigerian students go back to class and learn. They are the future of the country.
“Their continuous staying idle is dangerous to both the country and its people.
“So, we want Mr Sanwo- Olu to help us deliver our open letter to Mr President.”
Receiving the letter on behalf of Governor Sanwo-Olu, his special adviser on education, Mr Wahab Tokunbo, said the Lagos State government particularly shares in the pains of both the university students who are idled at home for no fault of theirs and their parents.
He said it was true that no country could progress meaningfully without the provision of quality education for its citizens, which he said could only be given in a stable and functional system.
He said that was why the Lagos State government takes the sector at all levels seriously.
In their separate addresses earlier, the human rights lawyers, Mr Jiti Ogunye and Convener, Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE) Network, Mrs Yinka Ogunde, who are both parents lamented what they called the continuous neglect by successive Nigerian governments particularly from the mid-80s of the public education from primary to tertiary levels.
They said the situation had become terrible to the extent that only the poor parents, who could neither afford to send their children to private schools at home nor send them overseas to study see the public schools as a last resort in Nigeria.
They said it was high time the Nigerian government invested hugely in education so that Nigeria can attain economic greatness in the comity of nations.
Source: The Tribune