Barrister Toyin Oladipo is an Ilorin based legal practitioner, He graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1986 before he proceeded to the only Law school in the country at the time, Lagos campus in 1987 and was called to the Bar in the same year.
He had a stint at the Kwara state ministry of Justice where he practiced for 3 years afterwards he started his private firm, Toyin Oladipo & Co located at Offa road area Ilorin.
in this interview with JIMOH SULYMAN, Barrister Oladipo gave his insight concerning the incessant strikes of ASUU, especially the latest one that has been further stretched by two months, he gave the possible solutions and why he thought there should be a systemic overhaul in the country. Excerpt.
ASUU strike has been a perennial problem in our Educational and social system, do you think striking is the best way to signal displeasure?
It is not only in Nigeria that workers embark on industrial action, but I can tell you in Nigeria the only language government understands is strike, you see, I have been following the interaction between ASUU and the Federal government and have come to realise that’s government has been deceiving them all this while, these people go on strike, Government call them and make several promises, after which these people will call off their strike, and then after a while we start all over again like a cycle, so it is not really the fault of these lectures, I feel teachers should be earning better salaries in Nigeria, even more than this National Assembly people.
Now, the salary of a senator in a month, would pay the salary of more than 100 lecturers, if the paltry thing they are demanding for puts educational sector in good shape, why don’t they give it to them? These people are not going to remain lecturers forever, our own children would eventually become lecturers , and this continue to roll.
National assembly, as far as I think, should be wiped out, they are taking too much money, while a Senator will probably take home in a month ,more than thirty million Naira, excuse me what is the justification ? , and we have senior lecturers, professors who are earning #200,000 in a month, and they have spent all their lives in academics.
And these are the people that will teach the children of these same senators, except those that take their children abroad.
What is the justification for taking your children abroad, when we have universities in this country and many of our universities are world class, it is just that the government refuses to fund them, as far as I’m concerned ,ASUU has no choice that to go on strike, the unfortunate thing is that it is not only government that suffers, many students are affected, parents are affected, but then, when two elephants fight , it is the grass that always suffer.
Why did the government allow the situation to degenerate to this extent, that the strike is called, that is my say on this, if ASUU has a part of the fault.Federal Government has the lion’s share of the fault.
ASUU always give notice, maybe like a month or two.
Since the Issue has been going on for years, many people think that it has degenerated into an egoistic contest between the ASUU and Federal Government?
No, I do not agree to that, this thing didn’t just start in during the Buhari administration, when Goodluck was there, they went on strike and they were promised certain things, those promises were not fulfilled, especially when Buhari came in, Ngige called them for meetings and he also made his own promises and those promises were not fulfilled, so, what are these people suppose to do, they have attended several meetings with the government and they always promise and renege on those promises.
What are the effects this strike is going to have on our education system and how bad is it?
Very bad I must, when a student who should graduate after four years in the University is now spending seven years instead, it has its effect on the society at large, first of all, the parents who are paying for the tuition will be further impoverished because they have to pay more.
Even the students themselves, when they are sent home, they begin to do all sort of things, that is when they form bad gangs and other criminal entities, so the students are very affected as well and also it affects the society at large, because it is because when the mind of young people is not occupied with something decent and profitable, that is when they go into all sort of things.
The institutions themselves too won’t be left out of the toll it will have on them, when I was in the University, we have hostels, I went from Ilorin here to Enugu and they have hostels, decent ones for that matter, we have porters who clean the hostels, we were given decent meals and that time, the meal ticket for a plate of food was just 50kobo.
Even at that time, I know people who couldn’t afford 50kobo, they will eat breakfast, skip lunch and eat dinner ,that was when food was just 50kobo talk less of now.
Some schools Now don’t even have hostels whereby we now have expensive hostels outside the school and then the students are made to pray through their noses for those hostels.
It does not augur well for us to continue like this, the society is worse off.
What do you think can be done to save the day?
You see, Nigeria is a very rich country, if a sector has to suffer, it shouldn’t be the educational system, I don’t know why we can’t find a way of reducing the salaries of these legislators, there is no reason why we can reduce the salary of a senator from #30million to #5million and expend the rest on the educational sector.
It is not just the educational sector that is suffering, even the health sector is suffering, so when a big man has head ache, he is immediately flown abroad, when we have health institutions that have been neglected and grounded, so the same thing is what makes the politicians to take their children to schools in oversea in order to avoid strike.
Why is it that we don’t make our own system to work, so that there won’t be strikes, these lecturers are only asking for a decent educational system, why can’t the government give it to them, because we waste money daily.
NNPC every year, budget money for turn around maintenance and they’re not maintaining anything, NNPC staff who doesn’t do anything are being paid their salaries, I don’t understand this, so we have a lot of wastages that can be channeled to the educational sector and that is what I felt can be done to save the system.
You mentioned that National Assembly should be scrapped, how do you think we can do that?
It is not every democracy that needs a national legislative arm, we can tailor our own to suit our need, in other countries, you have legislators that are part time and they’re not paid these bogus salaries and in such countries, those legislators do their work because they love their country, not here that for four years, somebody will be in Senate and his voice will not be heard, so, that is the unfortunate thing ,and I had expected that APC would do better.
Even we don’t scrap the two houses, maybe we should scrap the house of representative and then reduce the salaries and emoluments of the Senate, you’ll find out that, this do or die war in getting elected will no longer be there because what attracts people is the money, it isn’t their interests in serving the people, that is why some people go to the bank to borrow billions to facilitate their election and at the end of the day, they have to recover this money , so that is why they go to such extent of stealing money and all sort of things.