Egwu, Yar Adua & ASUU; Back to School 2

As we celebrate school (University) resumption and the beginning of a new academic year/semester here in London, hundreds of thousands of our colleagues in Nigeria unfortunately are bawling over the lugubrious impact of the ASUU- National Strike.

Egwu, Yar Adua & ASUU; Back to School 2: adapted from the Dee Zone – Newspaper Column of Dayo Israel-

As we celebrate school (University) resumption and the beginning of a new academic year/semester here in London, hundreds of thousands of our colleagues in Nigeria unfortunately are bawling over the lugubrious impact of the ASUU- National Strike.

Whilst here in the west, Education of the Youth is the most vital investment of the government after the Iraq war, Nigeria has continued to deprive its future “ The Youth“ good education, forgetting that all who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youths.

It is appalling to know that with the President an Academician, The Vice President an Academician, and as a matter of fact, the Education Minister an academician – whereas the Academic sector of our Nation lies in ruin whilst the political sector continue to wallow in corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

Whilst on the train some days ago, my friend and I spent time reflecting over our experiences as students here in the UK. I remember when I got my admissions into London Met, it was like a ticket to a brighter future – I knew it was a beginning of a worthwhile experience. Student life for us is fun, in every way. To start with, gaining admission to University gave us access to about £2500+ interest free overdraft from the Banks for opening a student account and this was available to everyone including foreign student. That was more than what was paid for my mother’s dowr given to me just because I got an admission into University. However it was part of the societal package to help us enjoy school life. You also get 1year free National Student Railcard from NATWEST when you open a bank account, alongside many other package.

After enrolment, you also get to register with the Student Union which gives you access to the NUS card. With the NUS card, you get up to 30% discount at various High Street stores, clubs, bars and various other attraction sites. The student oyster card also gives you 30% discount on your weekly travel card so what would normally be £24 for a zone 1 “ 2 travel card became £17 thereabout. All in the name of encouraging you to study and remain a student.

We attend various dinners and receptions hosted yearly by the International Student House, the Universities, and even the Mayor of London at the City Hall. The Prime Minister often invites various students for reception at Downing Street – all to encourage other young people to make the best of school. Everyone was looking forward to Fresher’s week every year even non-fresher’s as it was the place to network, make new friends or find a cute student to spend the semester Student Societies exhibit their products, campaigns and materials at the Fresher’s fair. I was always in the Nigerian society booth recruiting new Nigerian students to my University or at the Christian Union booth giving out free sweets, a free bible and a tract to new students – winning soul for God.

Education in this part of the world is of great important to the government and a priority on their agenda. NUS Conference remains the highlight of Student Advocacy, with everyone trying to get a slot to attend. Working was part of student life and getting a basic job in the University was somehow easy if you know the right steps to take. I started by working on the Student Union peer support team helping other students with their coursework’s for almost £8 an hour. Student Services in the University are available 9 – 5 to help you find a good accommodation, a good job and enjoy University life.

The peak of our student life is that the University appreciates their students; they sponsor students who are doing excellently socially. Many are on scholarships in America because of their social exploit or sport skills. I remember being sponsored by my University to attend a World summit in Malawi amongst others, whilst many other fellow students were also sponsored to attend international festivals, sport competition and all sorts. My University secured the exclusive right to promote my visit to the Queen at Buckingham Palace and it was on cover for all the school’s publications.

My favourite part of school life being the fact that you can plan your year and calendar. Everyone knows school resumes 3rd week of September and vacates on the 2nd Friday of December for Holiday. We know exams/coursework deadlines submission is in January and school resumes again in February to vacate in April then come back in May for Exams to conclude in June. The dates are published before resumption and followed to the letter. This gives us the ability to do other things, like I have my team schedule all my tour for the Holiday knowing assuredly that school would run as scheduled to the Glory of God.

During school vacation, our Libraries are open fully to students and if you are lucky to be in UEL, its open 24hours. Your National Library membership gives you access to use other Universities Library for studying and book loans. So if you get to be on Holiday in Manchester and you study in London, you can use the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Library.

Unfortunately in Nigeria, it is not so. One would assume that with 98% of our Leaders having their student abroad or most of them having studied abroad would know better and learn on how to make our University system work; however their only priority is making their bank account workactively.

 Our teachers and lectures in Nigeria are underpaid, short changed, under treasured and under developed. Yes under-developed! Many of our lecturers and teachers lack basic presentation and communication skills that would make them effective due to lack of extra-professional training. The teaching sector is perceived as a sector for those with no other alternative. No one is proud to share their teaching ambition and no parent encourages their children to be a teacher/lecturer in Nigeria. If you are a Nigerian full time lecturer or teacher and you drive a super nice car, live in a mansion or have anything extra ordinary, you are perceived to be involved in some shady deals because truly the Nigerian teaching salary doesn’t afford them such luxury.

The University structures itself is rotten, facilities-nothing to write home about, and the staff room a dead man zone. Many teachers express their frustration in class when they beat students at every slightest opportunity (by the way that’s child abuse). Lectures sleep with students for grades; high school teachers sell snacks in break time and expos (exam answers) to WAEC/NECO student for money to survive. The best teachers some students have experienced over the years have been student-teachers from the NYSC, (many of which have been reported to be sleeping with their student, maybe because of their experience with their lecturers). The so-called NYSC Teacher end up moving to Shell and NNPC for a better career life considering the travail of being a teacher.

Library???? I don’t even want to go there, apart from my personal High School experience in Nigeria, I visit Nigeria at least 4 times a year, mostly during my holidays and many of the times it involves me speaking in schools and institutions all over the Nation. The libraries in our schools and Universities are an eye sore. The best many of the libraries have experienced are Rotary Club donation to their libraries or an old student donation to their Alma Mata. Being a member of the MBHS Old Boys Association in the UK, we have been competing with the Igbobi College and King’s College old boys association in reforming our school library. Our UK Chapter donated a lot of computers to the School in Lagos to create an IT Library which have not been functioning because of lack of Electricity, and buying diesel for the big generator we bought cost a fortune. Generally all over the nation, there are no Multi library networks and lack of adequate copies to loan out to their students talkless of other students. Filled with dust and mostly outdated books, the libraries are not in anyway attractive to the student, especially in a world of E-book or online resources.



Talking about reform, Our President with a background in the academia or let me say it as it is, a teacher in Katsina state turned President with a 7 point agenda should have put Education (Formal and Informal) as top of His agenda bearing in mind that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. In the word of John Dewey, all reforms which rest simply upon the law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements, are transitory and futile…. But through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources, and thus shape itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move.

However the Presidents most supposedly successful reform lies in the creation of a Niger Delta Ministry and granting of Amnesty to un-educated Niger Delta Militant. I mean uneducated not in an insulting way but highlighting the fact that education for Niger delta Youth should have been paramount enabling them to take their future into their hands and not resort to violence. It’s all about the oil isn’t it, considering that the MAJOR militants are yet to surrender or lay down their arms. They must know that Nigerians are not fooled by the media propaganda flouted on NTA and other Govt media about the militant giving up arms, because the real big guys are still in the creek.

Back to my point, our entire President and his colleague, the teacher turned Governor and now turned Education Minister should do is give more attention to education rather than blackmail ASSU on the pages of Newspaper.

I still believe that Obasanjo did a lot of good for Nigeria, one of which is Iweala and Ezekwesili. I remember attending a Key Meeting of NIDO Worldwide in Toronto where Oby Ezekwesili highlighted all her plans and focus for the educational sector. Very strategic and on-point vision to reform the educational sector and empower our teachers, but the system that does not encourage good talent threw them back to the World bank like it’s been doing for all our teaching talents now sitting in major private sector companies.

I have no doubt that if Ezekwesili have continued in the Education Ministry, my colleagues back home would not be wasting away in cyber cafes because of ASUU strike and NEPA Palaver. No wonder there is an increase in the number of International Students in Europe because education at home is worsening and considering that time waits for no man, they seek alternative abroad.

Unlike here where we are given cash for studying, from EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance received by High School student in the UK for staying in schools) to Student Loan and Student Overdraft, the Nigerian Government is planning to take more money off our students by increasing student fees – in a country where minimum wage is not up to a weekly EMA for a year-10 student, and student loan is not available.

Forget about the newly introduced Bank PHB etc special saving package and loan for Nigerian student who want to study abroad, the Government need to set up a well structured student finance system as part of their educational sector reform. The Government needs to pump more money into the educational sector today so they don’t have to pump money into fighting crime tomorrow. Our Ministers needs to stop embezzling budget meant for our teachers; and heartless people should be removed from the position of authority especially in positions that are paramount to Human Development.



Is our Hon. Minister of Education’s appointment based on experience, passion or politics? Why are over 30% of our states without a functioning Schorlaship board? What happened to our bursary system? Why is our teacher turned president turning blind eye to the ASUU strike. We elected Yar’Adua not Egwu. We elected Him to give us Power (Light), Education, Jobs, good roads and not depression.

We have no problem with the President giving His daughter out in wedding to Governors although quashing the hopes of many Young Nigerian bachelors, however we have a problem with the President allegedly spending $5million on a wedding when $4million of that would turn our Universities around for good.

This is a wakeup call for our President to stand up and do something tangible for Nigerian Youth and Student by going back to the drawing board and from the same purse that’s funding the Amnesty program, fund our education because if our over 500, 000 Nigerian student are not back in School in a few weeks, the President may have to be worrying about granting amnesty to students turned Armed robbers, Hired Assassins or Aristos out of frustrations from the ASUU strike.

And on a lighter note, National Population Commission warns that young people staying at home idle especially when NEPA has held Power, with the absence of affordable leisure is dangerous to managing Nigeria’s over population as they’ll have more time to spend with their girl friends and make more babies for the nation to worry about.

To be continued.

Dayo Israel is the President of the Nigerian Society @ London Met and a M.A International Relations student at the University. A Former Deputy Senate President of the Nigerian Children’s Parliament and TV Talkshow host.