Misbahu Shehu Gokaru
Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s Minister of Education has spent several years berating public officials and their ineffectual policies as a political pundit and a prolific columnist. But in his second term as Minister, he has unraveled quickly and shown that he is no better than the same public officials he had lampooned as a past time over the years. His recent “walk out” perhaps is the greatest testament to this fact.
Education remains one of the most fundamental needs of human mind in modern times aside its explication of the human ecosystem, it is this illumination that advances human civilization and at the base of it, it remains the foundation bequeathing survival skills and sustainability.
There is a history to university strikes in Nigeria, in the 80s there were strikes to stall the University operations, at then to attain the status of fair wages and university autonomy. The Military regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida then proscribed the association for its militant advocacy and being a strong opposition to military rule. In 1990, the ban was lifted but 2 years later in 1992 after another strike, there was another ban. Further strikes were announced in 1994 and 1996 whilst protesting the military government of General Sani Abacha. For more than 30 years this endless cycle of strikes has continued unabated.
Once again ASUU started its usual rounds of industrial action citing the non-implementation of past agreements. Nigerian students led by Sunday Asefon had held a rally to protest the incessant strikes and express their displeasure to government on the way it has handled negotiation so far. They demanded to see the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu and they were ushered into his boardroom where in the company of the top management staff the President of NANS went ahead to address the issues at hand.
The interaction went thus for those who have not been privy to the issues. Speaking during the tensed interaction, Mr. Asefon claimed the minister publicly celebrated his son who graduated from a university abroad while being aloof to the issues bedeviling the incessant strike in Nigerian institutions.
“This is your second term in office, your salary will be paid. The salaries of the lecturers will be paid. We want to really know what is really happening,” the student leader said.
“Honourable minister, you celebrated your son who graduated in a country, in a university outside this country. We appreciate that. Our parents do not have that money to send us outside the country, but we are in this country. We should enjoy what we are paying for.
“We want adequate funding of education in this country, honourable minister, our message is that we want to go back to class. We want our schools to be open.”
In a reaction unbecoming of a public officer, especially in response to students who have been immensely traumatized by a cycle of perpetual strikes and in a highly un-empathetic manner the Minister asked the protesting students that they should have addressed the issues with their lecturers. Thus, making the issue a flaky game of ping pong. However, what he did next left the entire country especially parents extremely shocked.
He said “Perhaps the only point that you made that is even worthy of attention is that you said students should be involved in this (discussion) and I think it’s probably a good thing, and it’s the only thing I’m going to take from everything you have said here. Thank you.” He stood up packed his file and left, staging a walk out on the representatives of Nigerian students.
Unfortunately, his shoddy behavior has now been archived on the internet, which will ultimately define his tenure as Minister, under whose watch school children were routinely kidnapped at Federal Schools and especially as one who couldn’t assuage the needs of ASUU to keep children in school.