The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday, lambasted the Federal Government, saying there is nothing for Nigerians to celebrate, as the country marks its 62nd Independence anniversary tomorrow, October 1.
University lecturers have for more than seven months embarked on strike action, which has paralysed academic activities in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
In an interview with The Guardian, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said from politics and economy to security, education, healthcare and religion, the country has failed to live up to the dreams of its founding fathers at the dawn of Independence in 1960.
He said it was regrettable that 62 years after the nation’s independence, it was still grappling with leadership challenges.
“When you take a look at all the sectors, you ask yourself, what are we celebrating? In Nigeria today, a flight from Abuja to Lagos is about N100,000 and anybody going by road is not sure of his safe arrival. Civil servants are earning N30,000 a month, which is less than a bag of rice.
“There is nothing to celebrate, our children are at home; those in secondary schools have been taken over by private schools where little or nothing is happening. I think we should just use this period to reflect on all the things that have gone wrong in the country and how to address them. Our young men and women are at home and the government is not bothered. It is a very sad development,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government to increase the annual budgetary allocation to education as recommended by UNESCO.
“It is very easy to address some of the challenges we are facing. Go to the countries around us, they have made education a priority. Ghana dedicates over 20 per cent of its national budget to education and we give just 5.3 per cent, which means we don’t have any value for education.
“Any government that is serious about education will allocate a huge part of its budget to education and train the youth,” he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the elite in Nigeria must make sacrifices for the benefit of citizens, who also should be deliberate to create unity, with equity, justice, rule of law, accountability as components.
This was the summation of Prof Osinbajo’s remarks yesterday at the ‘Nigeria at 62 Independence Day Anniversary Public Lecture’ held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
“We who are the elite are a privileged class, but privilege comes with responsibility. It is the French who describe it as ‘Noblesse Oblige,’ the responsibility of privilege” he said.
Osinbajo noted that “the story of successful societies is the story of how the society’s elite – its best educated, its political and religious class, influence, direct and lead their societies to progress.
“Put differently, every successful society is the product of a conscious, elite consensus; the implicit and explicit agreements of the elite to change their societies for good. But the elite must be prepared to make the sacrifices for the benefit of everyone.”
While the Vice President noted the temptation for society’s elite, whether political, religious or intellectual, to seek benefits for self only, the greater good demands a higher sense of sacrifice and responsibility.
The guest lecturer at the event was the former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, who spoke on the topic, Elite and National Unity.
Afolabi noted what he described as the “immense responsibility of the Nigerian elite,” which is in resolving the country’s challenges, fostering national unity and development.
SPEAKING in same vein, a policy advocacy group, Citizens’ Common International (CCI), has said Nigeria’s 62nd Independence anniversary was coming at a time that calls for sober reflection and collective action.
While stressing that a time like this required a sharp focus on building a nation that works for many and not a few, the group said the country today is far from the dreams of its founding fathers.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the Executive Director of CCI, Olalekan Oshunkoya, enjoined all Nigerians to contribute their quota towards steering the country away from the brink.
Oshunkoya said CCI is collaborating with critical stakeholders to conduct a national survey among youths on what elected leaders should be doing to deliver the new Nigeria young people desire.
He explained that the research tagged: ‘The Nigeria Youth Voice Survey’ is expected to cover 24 cities across the federation.
“As we explore our fate in Nigeria’s future, we are asking our peers to share their experiences on what it means to be a Nigerian. We are also asking about deepening our democracy, political participation, inclusion and active citizenship.”
Also, the Director-General, International Law, Diplomacy & Economy Research Centre, Ndubuisi Idejiora-Kalu, said the findings and opinions from the survey will be compiled into a publication titled: ‘A Nigeria for the Many: A manifesto for the Nigeria we desire.’
Nigerians have been called upon to vote for candidates with history of positive performances, capable with skills to transform the lives of the masses. This was made known by the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Cyril Omorogbe, in Uyo, where he added that unqualified and greedy leaders were the bane of Nigeria’s development 62 years after attaining independence.
He lamented that the country has not been lucky when it comes to leadership. Omorogbe vowed not to be instrumental in giving people bad leaders, as he vowed to protect people’s votes by ensuring their choices emerge through their votes.
He called on politicians to go out and convince the people based on what they intend to do with their mandate to improve the lives of citizens, rather than plotting to rig on election day.