Monday, September 30, 2013

ASUU: Beyond the strikes

CHINUA Achebe in his book,  There Was A Country , wrote: ” Why has the war not been discussed, or taught to the young, over 40 years after its end?’ History, we were taught, is the story of past events.
We have read about the Songhai, Mali, Oyo, Benin, Kanem-Borno and other kingdoms. We read about their rise and fall, including the remote and immediate causes of rise and fall of kingdoms.
We also learnt that a people who do not learn from history, are bound to repeat it again. If our education curricula have not touched on salient aspects of our country’s history, how will the leaders of tomorrow identify and find solutions to these problems, whenever such arises? We have not addressed the issues of our past and that is why we are stuck where we are now.
How do our curricula address the issue of our distorted nation, causes and solutions? The corruption of our political class, the destruction of the civil service, the looting of our past military regimes, the high-handedness of our politicians and the continuous festering of ethnic and religious bigotry? What are the remote and immediate causes, and the solutions?
It is my humble opinion that if our children are made aware/conscious of these issues right from the secondary or tertiary education level, the populace will be more enlightened towards the challenges confronting this nation. This is where our academics/intellectuals and educational planners come in.
History is history. The events have taken place; you cannot run away from the facts. Any attempt to hide or distort it will only lead to repetitive occurrence without solutions. It is therefore very important for those in positions of authority to boldly confront this distortion in our educational structure. Our history must be continuously updated. That is how it is done in progressive countries.
The French Revolution, the American war of independence, the Soviet Revolution, the Middle East wars, the American Watergate, even the Arab Springs that happened barely two years ago are now subject of studies in American universities.
Why do our intellectuals shy away from researching in these vital areas that concern our country’s stability and development. This is a food for thought for ASUU. They should not be known only for strikes that concern their welfare.
The parlous state of the nation’s politics, economics, education and other key areas is as a result of lack of real focus on the part of our intellectuals .We yearn for the days of Awojobi, Chike Obi, Usman and other intellectuals of yore who understood the links between the academia and the larger society and were not afraid to give their voices to change, even at the risk of their personal safety- not for pecuniary interest like we have now.
ASUU must realise that they are a part of the larger society and their actions have chain reactions. When they are through, the non-academic staff will take-over, followed by doctors and nurses, then teachers and so on and so forth. Their issues cannot be tackled in isolation of the over all.
If their fight is for good governance and improvement of the overall state of the nation, it will have more meaning and beneficial to all, not a negligible few.
The parlous state of our nation is enough research material for our social, business and actuarial scientists. How many of them have taken advantage of this? Instead, we find recycled notes. They are even allowed the indulgence of private practices and so you find them shuffling from one private university to another. The strikes have given them more leeway for such pursuits since the private universities are in session.
Some will argue that the conditions are not suitable for research. Under worse conditions we have seen research breakthroughs in India, Soviet Russia, Indonesia, civil war America, China and the rest. In fact, the situation of this country is much more ideal for researches in the social sciences, business, economics and the likes. Even in agriculture, with our multi-dimensional topography, vegetation and size.
Our intellectuals have failed us; they should be in the forefront of the quest for good governance. They are the beacon of society in the Ivory Tower where the people look up to for direction.
The unity, with which they bond when they engage government in their fight for pecuniary interest, should be extended to ensuring that the overall system works properly in the country – free of all destructive sentiments -   in the light of the failure of other arms of government.
The responsibility for taking this country up to the next level rests on the shoulders of our intellectuals; they should wake up to their responsibilities.
Mr  Sunny Ikhioya a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos


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