By Oladosu Oluwagbenga
University Education not for everyone, according to David Umahi, the governor of Enugu State and chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum.
Umahi emphasized that borrowing more than N1 trillion to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities was unreasonable and argued as much in his statement.
When the governor welcomed a team from the Nigerian Police Trust Fund by Dr. Ben Akabueze in Abakaliki on Wednesday, he spoke against the backdrop of the current strike by teachers at the country’s universities.
Education experts believe that the current ASUU strike, which has lasted for more than five months, may continue.
The governor noted that the two difficult issues facing Nigeria were security and education. He also noted that the country’s educational system was poorly defined and that secondary or vocational education was the minimum standard that any nation should aspire for.
On Wednesday, Umahi stated, “Our primary issues in our nation continue to be those of security, health, and education. Let me briefly discuss education, which falls under our public purview and is the subject of the ASUU. I believe that the way in which our educational system is described is inadequate.
“University education is not for everybody and that is the truth. The basic education every country strives to attain is secondary school and vocational schools. These are the basic schools and when you have these qualifications, you will able to use it either to start up something or to be able to use it to be employed.
“There is a need to review our educational system. It mustn’t be for everybody. I am not ashamed that I have first degree and my Deputy is a PhD holder; it doesn’t matter. It is what you bring on board. So, I cannot see how we cannot sit down with our ASUU leaders and iron out this problem about the ASUU strike.
“I have read on social media, newspapers how students got into trouble just by sitting at home or engaging in means of keeping themselves busy instead of being in schools.
“There is no way the country Nigeria will go and borrow N1.1trillion to meet ASUU demand, its quite unreasonable. Are their demands genuine? Yes. But we can start little by little.
“There must be commitment on the side of both parties that look, the ASUU is not asking this to take to their houses so to say. It’s asking for it for our children, to better the infrastructure, to better the lecturers and the students. Yes, but we can start with a fraction of that and then have a programme that will run on the platform of sincerity to address all the lots.
“But let me also say that most of the time, our people have low appetite for maintenance of public works. No matter how much you deploy to these universities unless the users, the industry, the regulators begin to treat public infrastructure as their own in the various universities, it will continue to go bad.
“So, it is important for ASUU to show some understanding and for those who are negotiating on the side of government to also show some understanding. Lets meet ourselves halfway and their open the schools to save the fate of our children.”