By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps towards addressing the immediate and remote issues which informed the ongoing strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
The Centre further noted that after the serious disruptions experienced in the education and health sectors in recent weeks, it is also time for the industrial unions to consider the implication of their action on the ordinary Nigerian, who unlike the political elite, does not have access to public funds to pay for education and health services outside the shores of Nigeria.
Speaking on Thursday, the CHRICED Executive Director, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi noted that while it is true that the neglect of the health and educational system by successive governments is responsible for the current rot in these two critical sectors, the expectation of the Nigerian people was that the current government would provide a roadmap, which would be faithfully implemented to rescue these two critical sectors from their current death bed.
He stressed that the expectation has not been met, as incessant industrial disputes continue to keep students at home for interminable periods, while Nigerians in dire need of healthcare cannot have access due to frequent shutdown of the system as a result of industrial disputes.
According to him; “There is no mistaken the fact that students being forced to stay at home, and patients who are denied healthcare as a result of these endless strikes, are ordinary Nigerians, whose only crime is to be unfortunate enough to be citizens of a country, where the political elite continually show disdain towards the need for a functional public education and health systems.
CHRICED however wondered how Nigeria intends to transform its potential and the energies of its people, into assets for national development, if it continues to leave critical sectors like education and health in the doldrums.
He said; ” In the face of this crisis in the these two vital areas of our national life, it is clear to all how the political elite responsible for the rot in the first place have been short-changing the Nigerian people.After sending public education to a near-collapse, and watching as the health system crumbled, the political elite have now resorted to medical tourism, while sending their children abroad to get quality education. All over the country, the elite are busy creating dynasties by ensuring only they, their families and friends have access to the best services, including education and health, which they alone have the resources to access offshore.
“On the other hand, the ordinary people of Nigeria are being left to their own fate or to pray for divine intervention. CHRICED is of the view that these are of the major governance questions that should occupy the mind of the electorate, come 2019. The Nigerian people must be ready to vote against all those who have decided to kill our public education and health system, while accessing quality services abroad because they have succeeded in cornering the wealth of the nation” he stated.
While calling on the government to act decisively on the issues facing the educational and health sectors, CHRICED equally called on the unions to reassess their strategy, in order to act with the interest of the ordinary Nigerian at heart.
“Beyond strikes, which subject helpless citizens of this country to untold hardships, the unions similarly have a patriotic responsibility to work seriously to entrench accountability in their various institutions.
“It is therefore of utmost significance that while the argument for better funding is being made for these sectors, the bigger issue of accountability and prudent management of funds already going into these systems, must be seriously considered”.
Zikirullahi emphasized that it is critical for the Unions to create a channel through which monies that go into the education and health would be adequately monitored to ensure they are used for the purpose for which they are appropriated.