As Nigerian university lecturers enter their eighth month of the strike, President Muhammadu Buhari has listed the minister of education Adamu Adamu among the recipients of national honours – an order of awards given to citizens and sometimes foreigners in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the nation’s development – to the chagrin of many Nigerians.
The national honours seen as an official validation of one’s excellence in a chosen career will now be awarded to Mr Adamu, deemed incompetent by many citizens over his inability to proffer reasonable solutions to end the prolonged eight months strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which began February 14.
Mr Adamu’s tenure as education minister since 2015 has witnessed over 20 months of the strike, an astounding record that has left many students academically stranded across the nation.
Schools like the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife had to merge new students from two academic sessions 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 for lectures in 2022 before the current strike.
Some students who have written their final examination were yet to be mobilised for the mandatory national youth service year and are unable to apply for jobs because recruiting organisations demand both university and NYSC certificates which haven’t been issued due to the strike.
In 2017 under Mr Adamu’s watch, ASUU embarked on a one-month strike that lasted between August 17 and September 18.
In 2018, the union began another strike that lasted three months, from November 4, 2018, to February 7, 2019.
In 2020, ASUU embarked on its longest strike lasting from March 23 to December 23, a nine-month period which translated to a wasted session on the academic calendar.
In 2022, the union has been on strike since February 14 and all negotiations so far have reached stalemate. The federal government is unwilling to accede to the demands of the academic union. The strike has been on for over eight months.
Secondary school education had also degenerated under Mr Adamu with JAMB cut-off marks for university admissions reducing from 180 marks in 2015 when he assumed office to 140 marks in 2022.
The cut-off marks for securing admissions into polytechnics were also reduced from 150 marks in 2015 to 100 marks in 2022, a proof of Mr Adamu’s inefficiency to up the ante at the secondary school level.
Despite these shortcomings recorded under Mr Adamu’s watch, Mr Buhari is determined to compensate the education minister with the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) national honours, a move considered reckless and insensitive of the regime to the plight of students and striking lecturers.
The award conferment has validated concerns that Mr Buhari’s body language towards the comatose educational sector was non-challant, an attitude that emboldened the immediate past minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba to pick up the APC presidential nomination form valued at N100 million during an ongoing ASUU strike.