Benue State University was established in 1992 under the leadership of the late governor Moses Adasu, with the aim of educating the Benue citizens and beyond. However, the incessant strikes of the university lecturers as a result of the government’s disposition to their welfare have lessen the effectiveness of the University in delivering steady and soundable academic services to her students. It is sad to note that the university is currently on strike due to the inability of the last administration under the leadership of Mr. Gabriel Suswam, to pay the accumulative salaries and allowances of the lecturers and the Management staff of the university.
The ongoing strike started on March 9, 2015 and later escalated to the rigid level as the lecturers are insisting on getting all their outstanding salaries and allowances before calling it off. Meanwhile, all the efforts made so far by the present administration of Governor Samuel Ortom did not yielded fruit yet, due to the fact that the lecturers want their accumulated salaries and allowances paid and not promises. The recent action portrayed by the management of the university, where the casket was constructed and kept at the main gate of the university to signify the death of the university has shown how serious the problem is and the present administration should not delay any longer to settle the lecturers and the management staff of the university so that the ongoing strike can be called off.
It is true that the previous administration has caused a lot of damage in education sector and other sectors in the state, by embezzling the funds that were meant for projects that if executed, the state would have taken a giant shade in the direction of development but, the present administration should not continue to blame the past leadership but rather, think of what to do to rescue the state from its dying condition.
It may be necessary to remind Governor Samuel Ortom that education is the backbone of any given state; nation or country and he should do everything possible in his power to initiate positive change into the “stand still system” of education in the state. Benue state university is not the only educational institution that is facing challenges in the state, others like College of Education Katsina-Ala, State owned Primary Schools and so on are facing the same. In fact, the previous administration has crippled education sector in the state. Ortom’s administration should not do same. It is very disheartening to recall that the Benue State University stays in session for one month and goes on strike for four or five months. How do we describe this type of system of education? With the persistent strikes at the University, can she actualize her vision of being “The University of First Choice in Nigeria and Africa and among the top 200 in the world? The institution mission is “to be a centre of excellence in creating knowledge and developing a complete person who is capable of not only responding to the cultural, social, political, and economic needs of the environment, but also setting agenda for change”. Can the university achieve that with her incessant strikes?
Any time she embanks on strike like the present one, students are the ones that suffer after the episode. It is true that once the academic calendar has been tempered with because of the strike, it leads to unusual system of academic services (lectures, assignments, test and so on) in the institution, thereby not giving enough time to students to read and undergo other academic trainings before writing their semester’s examinations. This accounts for the poor academic performance among the students. It has been repeatedly said on both print and electronic media that graduates in Nigeria’s universities are not productive. According to some of the interviews on media, the guests featured on those interviews, accused graduates of not being productive, advancing reason such as lack of students’ commitment while in school but at the same time failed to realize and point out that government also is frustrating the efforts of students with her carefree attitudes towards the education sector in Nigeria. It is very unfortunate that education sector that needed much attention from the government is being neglected, while other issues like unnecessary allowances for elected political office holders, sponsoring of pilgrimage/hajj and so on, which are of less significant, are enjoying maximum attention from the government. If the government at all levels has being caking education as a serious business as our leaders takes embezzling of public funds, educational institutions in Benue State and the country at large, would have been very productive, thereby producing graduates that are productive.
Despite the fact that some students are not committed to their studies, they are not the only people to be blamed for their poor academic performance; the government should also take her share of the blame. Therefore, looking for whom to blame for poor academic performance of students and poor educational system in Benue State and beyond, is not and would never be the solution to the problem but coming together and thinking of the way forward and finally doing what is right in the sector, can revitalize our educational sector.
The time to fix the problems in Benue’s educational system and beyond is now; the time for educational institutions in Benue State to actualize their dreams of being among the best in Nigeria, Africa and the World is now, the time to get rid of corruption in education sector in the state is now, the time to call off the ongoing strike of lecturers at Benue State University is now, the time to pay the outstanding salaries and allowances of lecturers at Benue State University is now, the time to experience positive change in Benue’s education sector is now, the time to put a permanent halt to constant strikes in education sector in the state and beyond is now.
Terwase, a graduate of Mass Communication wrote from Mpape, Abuja.