ASUU’s continued strike worrisome, Babalola laments

Emmanuel Kehinde, Ilorin

The Founder, Bayo and Bunmi Babalola Foundation, Mr Sunday Adebayo Babalola, has decried the continued disruption of academic activities of students in Nigeria’s public universities as a result of the ongoing face-off between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria.


The ASUU commenced strike on February 14, 2022, to compel the federal government to accede to their demands.


The demands of ASUU from the federal government include the revitalisation of public tertiary institutions and payment of earned academic allowances. The lecturers are also demanding the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of university lecturers’ salaries, among others.


The strike which has paralysed academic activities and frustrated many students in public universities has dragged on for over seven months.


Pastor Babalola, who through the foundation he co-founded with his wife, Pastor Bunmi Babalola, has offered scholarships to over 1,000 beneficiaries comprising students from tertiary institutions and pupils from primary and secondary schools, lamented that the strike has frustrated the academic pursuits of many students.


He noted that Nigerian youths are very talented, resourceful, enterprising and resilient, adding that they need to be encouraged to achieve their laudable missions and pursuits.


He said their foundation has invested huge amounts of money in the human capital development of Nigerians, including youths because that is one of the ways to grow the nation and develop people.


Babalola said, “The continued disruption of academic activities of students in Nigerian public universities because of the ongoing strike of ASUU to get the government to address their demands is very sad. Sometimes when I think about the strike, I tend to wonder if the government is not doing it deliberately. If you have an agreement with somebody, you keep to the terms of the agreement and if for any reason you can not keep to the terms, you call the other party to the round table again. You explain that when we did this agreement these were the conditions but things have changed. Make it very clear to them. They are not fools, they will look at it dispassionately, and come up with a renegotiated agreement. I think the government should keep the agreement and where they can not do it, and let them call them back to the roundtable.

“Let the other party, look at the reason that the government is giving, and try to see what they can do to resolve it amicable because, at the end of the day, they are not only the ones that are suffering, the children are suffering and people that would have finished their courses in four years will be spending many more years. That is not good at all. That is why many rich people are sending their children and wards outside the country even at a higher cost. If this thing is resolved and everything is going on well, people will leave their children here. Actually, some people have their children in private universities that are not affected by the ASUU strike. That is a pointer that it is not everybody that is running away but that some people are forced to take their children to other countries.


“You will also remember that this education tourism is affecting our forex as many people are taking their children or wards to other countries and are paying even higher. When those children get there, many of them do not want to come back. We, therefore, lose human resources as a result of that. there is so much human capital flight as a result of medical tourism and education tourism. There is also human resources or human capital flight due to those things.”


He added, “We have been investing in human capital through the scholarship awards of our foundation because children are the human capital of the future or even now. When you invest in human capital, it will permeate every other investment. These children that are in schools now will eventually grow up to do what we can not do.


“There is so much that one man can do but when you develop many people, that single thing that one person can do, who goes ahead to develop many people have multiplied by many folds what those people can do. When you also do that, you also have increased the capacity of that one man that started the whole investment. That is our intention: to be able to touch the future from the present and to be able to also develop the country by doing the right thing today. So it is just our modest way of saying: we have received so much from this country, let us give back to it.”

“Many of our colleagues have either partially relocated outside the country or have actually relocated totally outside the country. But we are staying here to develop the country and development of the system starts with the development of the citizens within the system. That is simply what we are doing.”

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