ASUU strike product of policy somersault- Tobias Amara

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By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

 Mr. Tobias Amara is a seasoned lecturer, notable public administrator, former Head of Department, Public Administration, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, Zonal Coordinator, South South, Public Administartion andthe laudable ideas Management Development Institute (PAMDI), Abia State Chapter Chairman of the same institute. In this interview he spoke on the vexed issues of ASUU strike and JAMB cut off mark. Excerpt:

     There has been plethora of ASUU strikes in the past and at the end of the day no solutions have been proferred. At this point one wonders if ASUU strike is still fashionable?

       The leadership of the union said that they embarked on the strike to get government to respect the 2009 agreement. The agreement was in respect of funding tertiary institutions in the country. From what government agreed with them more than N1trillion was to be expended in a period of five to six years in funding the tertiary institutions.

     It was in 2010 that N200billion was released and since then no other money has been released.By failing to release tranches of money in succeeding years, the federal government has breached the agreement thereby truncating the laudable ideas of the parties that signed the agreement. One would wonder why ASUU allowed so long a time before embarking on a strike to get the agreement respected. It would appear that it is the same case of policy somersault where one regime will propose and pursue an idea only for the succeding regime to throw it to the dustbin, irrespective of what good impact it will have on the polity. Otherwise how else would one explain the fact that government receive huge funds from Paris Club Refund and deemed it fit to share it to the governors in total disregard to the critical sectors of the economy: education, health, and agriculture.

     My take is that government should take the bold step of renegotiating with ASUU leadership with a view to finding speedy resolution to the crisis, so that the students may go back to classes and the problem of increasing social vices wlould be nipped in the bud.

     The recent cut off mark by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has generated mixed reactions, what is your take on this?

       The 120 and 100 points respectively into universities and polytechnics may have been a well- thought idea by the reggulatory body, JAMB but it portends great danger for the survivalof the education sector.One must appreciate the fact that no country develop beyond the quality of education, technological knowledge to it. If we must go down memory lane, we will recall that sometime in the past, you needed aggregate of 30 or more in the national common entrance examination to have admission into public secondary schools. But from 1980, this score began to plummet to the point that by mid 80s with aggregate 18. People were admitted into public secondary schools, and thereafter nobody talks of common entrance. Today we know what has become of public secondary schools.

       Education has always been competitive that is why all over the world, schools try to out- perform each other in thhe quality of their products and success in entrance examinations had been based on high performance in order to sustain this.The pride of somebody who passed examination is that there are people who could not pass. If we reduce university entrance in Nigeria into all comers affair, we will end up killing the system in the near future.

   As it were, bourgeios are disposed are disposed favourably to killing the public schools so that their private universities will flourish. But one expects the APC- led government which has touted itself as a populist government to do the needful to revive public schools and restore them to their past glories. Reducing cut off mark to120 for universities and 100 for polytecnics is antithetical to this.

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