The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
Again the Academic staff union of Nigerian Universities have gone on strike and this means all academic work in Nigerian universities are shut down and young university students are forced to return to their parents or wards, and occasionally to the streets- the men joining bad gangs to commit all manner of crimes and the women into "glorified prostitution." Since the early 90s, it has become impossible to predict or estimate the duration or finishing times of university courses in Nigerian because of incessant Lecturers' strike or work to rule actions, caused by successive governments that care less about education and its importance to overall development.
Our president, UMYA, talks of seven point agenda, one of which is human capital development, yet he supervises the rot in educational system across Nigeria, by very low funding of a vital sector like education. Some people thought that been academicians, and indeed the first president to have a genuine university degree, along with vice president Goodluck Jonathan, Education would have it very good with these calibre of men in the presidency. But no, it is business as usual and it cannot be better than even general Babangida's military dictatorship, as a paltry 2.5% of GDP is assigned to Education by former Lecturer Umaru Yar'Adua to the chagrin of ASUU. The truth is that successive Nigerian administration- military and so called civilian "democracies-" never really cared about the public educational system in Nigeria. Why would they care? Their children and ward don't go to Nigerian schools; not even the private schools. Check out the National Assembly members, the ministers and the state governors whose children are of university age and you would find that their children are in UK and American universities where they pay for each child the equivalents of their two years legitimate salaries! Don't ask me how they are able to finance the fees and maintenance of 3 children in UK and American universities t the same time. Nigerian political office holders must be magicians when it comes to managing personal funds and budgets!
Not even an agreement signed by public officers under Yar'Adua's government could be honoured as the people running government lack honour and can't even keep to their own promise(s) - and that is the reason for the current strike which took off on Monday 22 June, 2009. The lecturers are angry and rightly so over the poor funding of Nigerian universities; lack of administrative autonomy of the universities; decaying academic infrastructure; lack of modern learning and teaching materials and poor remuneration of teachers, at a time National Assembly members get all manners of dodgy allowances, including Newspapers and Wardrobe allowances and sundry payment rumoured to run in tens of millions of Naira per quarter, whilst sleeping on the few times they attend sittings in the House.
Let's just try and put a near picture of the fate of young people in Nigeria:
- Nigerian undergraduates spend an average of six years for a four year course before they come out with a degree which compares very poorly to similar degrees from saner climes, where education is given the respect it deserve- Put a monetary costs to this. In sane societies full costing is applied to this type of waste including direct costs and opportunity costs, but this is too difficult for Nigerian leaders!
- Most times when Universities are shut- and it is even estimated that students spend more time outside the university system than within through out the duration of their degree courses. In those times they are out of the university campuses, they are idle as there is no employment or any meaningful voluntary job to do during legitimate and "forced" vacations, occasioned by strikes and other exigencies. These costs monies and at worst these idle hands can get engaged in crimes for as they say "an idle hand is the devil's messenger."
- Each year about a one million qualified students apply through the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for entry into Nigerian universities and only about 200,000 (20%) of them get admitted to all the universities in Nigeria and the remaining 800,000- all qualified with adequate number of required WAEC credits- will keep trying the lottery of JAMB admission for another 3-5 years to get admissions at a time they should have graduated- Please try quantify this wasted years- in frustration and psychological damage to the youth; economic and financial loss to the young person; their families and the national economy- but our leaders cannot think, nor do they care- all they care about is rig themselves into power and then continue with the looting , mismanagement and wastage of state resources.
- Then the greatest pain is the long wasted years of searching for non-available jobs after graduation. Young graduates are abused by old wily politicians and low-life business managers, especially the women folks who are forced into sexual exploitation in the name of getting them jobs, which they hardly get not even after they have been forced to sell their bodies for non-existent jobs after fake promises. The jobs are simply not there, for an economy that is shrinking daily yet churning out half-baked graduates in hundreds of thousands annually. The politicians from the presidency to the local government chair person lack the knowledge and ability to create jobs or a conducive environment that will lead the private sector to create jobs for the teaming young persons roaming the streets, hundred of thousand of them with second degrees but without a job, for upwards of 5-6 years after graduation and national service (NYSC).
- The World Bank reckons about 40 million employable Nigerians, majority of them youths, all able-bodied and willing to work are unemployed and cannot find work to do. The result is that many engage in crimes to survive or try to find legal and illegal means to leave the shores of Nigeria to any other land possible, especially Europe and America. Many Nigerian youths desperate to leave the chaos and nightmare that our leaders have turned Nigeria into, die in the North African deserts of Libya, Algeria and Morocco. Those who are lucky enough to get to the Mediterranean Sea, die in capsized ramshackle boats they try to use to cross to Italy and Spain in the process of illegal entry in do-or-die battle to leave Nigeria. Yet we have national and state governments that profess to be representatives of Nigerians but do not care about the security and welfare of Nigerians- only their gluttonous interest and those of their families and cronies. You get these results when leaders are imposed on the Nigerian people all across without the people able to elect their government in free credible elections.
Put all these wasted years and the psychological impact of such frustration by young persons in Nigeria and you will understand the enormity of the wastages and loss to the Nigerian economy as a whole. No country with a view to any form of future prosperity treats its youth the way Nigerian leaders have abandoned them. You can see the
damage the Nigerian system is unleashing on young people, and the youth who are at their prime are been wasted by bad government across the board in that country. We lack leaders and politicians who can think and plan ahead and in fact realise that we will all be the losers when the youth of a country with abundant energies and ideas are not engaged and utilised for decent academic pursuits and in meaningful jobs for their professional development and the overall growth of the economy.
Have we really had leaders in the real sense of it? Shagari never wanted to be president. He confessed he only wanted to be a Senator, but he was dragged to a position of he was never prepared for nor capable of handling; Yar Adua wanted to go and rest after 8 years as governor of poor Katsina state but Baba Iyabo conscripted an unprepared, incapable man and foisted him on Nigerians. And why should you wonder why after two years of lousy, clueless and colourless presidency the man is involved in "meticulous planning" rather than giving us electricity, water, decent health and educational services? Compare with an Obama of America who went firing from all cylinders from the moment he was sworn in as US President and you see why Nigeria continues to be a mess!
Even when we say we have had ten years of continuous democracy the people of Nigerian have never benefited from it. Only the politicians who are largely usurpers are creaming the whole resources to themselves at the expense of the majority of long-suffering Nigerians. Until the people are allowed to elect their leaders freely, greedy but clueless nincompoops will continue to occupy the political landscape of Nigeria at all levels. Nigerians and particularly the youth must take their destiny in their own hands. These band of politicians running the show must be got rid off by 2011. They, particularly the current occupiers of that leprous party called PDP who now run rough-shod across Nigeria, know that they would never win an election, in a free and fair contest. So those pinning their hopes that Yar'Adua, or indeed the likes of David Mark and members of the National Assembly would enact some "electoral reform" to make for credible elections in 2011 should better do a rethink. These people are the products of fraudulent election engineered by Prof Maurice Iwu. They have continued to keep the monster in charge of INEC despite all his shenanigans since April, 2007 "s-Election" described by the whole world as the worst election you could have anywhere even by the standards of banana republics standards. Only the people of Nigeria can ensure they vote in people of their choice and ensure that their vote will count by staying and insisting that ballot boxes are not snatched by PDP thugs and that counting is done and registered in their presence.