Mazeed Mukhtar Oyeleye writes,

Dearest compatriots,

I am a big fan of Professor Wole Soyinka and I try to emulate him, paying homage with every literary piece I create. However, this will be different because I write to win your hearts, not display my writing prowess.

In December 2021, the possibility of yet another ASUU strike scared university lecturers and students. We, the students, worried lest our stay at the university extend further beyond the usual timespan for our respective courses. Although we now go about our academic activities because of the union’s compromise, the possibility of a strike remains a threat.

The prospects of another indefinite strike scare parents, guardians and concerned Nigerians. Recall that the last strike, coupled with the COVID-19 lockdown, contributed to the #EndSARS protests. It is scary enough that no one can verify the extent of lives and properties we lost to the violence that followed; it is more frightening that another strike can lead to larger protests and equally grave consequences.

Similarly, the last strike grew the rate of illegal activities in Nigeria to insane levels. It gave students, who had criminally-inclined thoughts, ample time to carry out their ugly ideas. If the proverb that says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” is true, every strike will unfailingly spike crime rates further, soiling the name of our dear nation.

The words of my roommate, who fell into the hands of bandits in mid-2020, shocked me. He ranged his kidnappers between 17 and 21 years old, with their commander being about 25 years old. His ordeal begs the question, ‘why do young people engage in vices that endanger them and their victims?’ The answer is logical; the demographic of bandits cry for lack of education and enlightenment.

Unfortunately, the spread of criminal activities and unrest in Nigeria leads to untimely deaths and emigration to countries with higher economic development and security indices, robbing the nation of promising individuals. In other words, our falling education system leads to brain drain and flight of capital, which discourage foreign investment in our nation, and ultimately, economic hardship.

I remember my conversation with Prof. Muhammed Ibrahim, a Professor of Language Education at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto on the problems of the Nigerian education sector: He identified the lack of commitment as the major problem, blaming both the government and the citizens of Nigeria. Referring to the days when communities maintained schools whilst the government catered to the personnel needs, he insisted that the education sector can only regain its standards when the people and the state work hand in hand.

“Endowment is what people do outside [the country] to push education: Those that have made names for themselves in certain industries and professions and earned reasonable amounts of money pay back to society through endowments for specific developing sectors. Endowments can equally help the less privileged get educated. We have to come in some way, rather than leaving education in the hands of the government. After all, they [learners] are our children, and it is our responsibility to train our children,” he concluded.

More so, I believe taking sides with ASUU or the Federal Government is a waste of time because it changes nothing. However, the sorry state of education in Nigeria can become history only when you, successful Nigerians, pool resources to fulfil the many promises the FG made to ASUU and sister associations over the years. Without a doubt, the ritual-like strikes that make tertiary education in Nigeria laughable will end, refreshing the relationships between the unions and the state. Thus, posterity will live to appreciate your kind gesture and know who to blame whenever anything goes wrong thereupon.

In the same vein, settling ASUU and her sisters will improve the quality of tertiary education in Nigeria because a part of their accrued entitlement is to upgrade facilities in institutions across the country. Therefore, students will benefit from the settlement of their lecturers, making higher education timely, tidy and attractive to people that see it as an indefinite waste of time. Consequently, it will encourage higher enrolment and curb avoidable idleness, reducing the participation of youths in criminal activities.

Likewise, a significant reduction in crime rates and insecurity will prevent Nigeria from suffering more human and financial capital flight while making our nation a favourite location for foreign investments. Your intervention will better the quality of life in Nigeria, leading to economic rejuvenation and growth.

I implore you to consider my words and do the onus. Your prompt action will secure the future and safeguard our lives and investments. Act now and make your descendants proud Nigerians!

May the labour of our heroes past never be in vain!

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