The Soul of Chess – ASUU Vs FG -By Rodiyah Omotoyosi Mikail

Filed under: National Issues |

In the game of chess, pawns cannot move backwards or sideways. They are vulnerable and depend heavily on the support of other pawns.

But despite the useless disposition of pawns, Francis-André Philidor, an 18th-century chess expert, described them as “the soul of chess.”

It is they which uniquely determine the attack and the defence; and on their good or bad arrangements depends entirely the winning or losing of the game.

This is exactly what we students are. . .pawns!

A couple of nights ago, I was lying in my bed at my University hostel in Sokoto, when I suddenly heard whoops and hollers of students ringing across the walls of the hostel. Curious, I stood up to behold the ongoing.

“Hurray! ASUU strike has been called off!” someone shouted from down the hallway. I was ecstatic: finally, after over two months of academic dormancy, everything was finally going to be back to normal.

Because it seemed too good to be true, I was bent on checking the news myself. On my phone I was, browsing the net, when an annoyed squawk retorted: “Who’re these jobless idiots spreading false information?” Well, a fight ensued, the end of I didn’t wait to watch.

It was January 2019 and the strike continued, two months, eight days and still counting…

Then I thought to myself, how exactly did we get here?

In the past decade, ASUU has embarked on over twelve notable strikes, the least lasting three days and the most over a year. Strike has been made, over time, an integral part of the university system in Nigeria.

But the unfortunate side of it is that, as two buffaloes quarrel, the grass underneath profusely suffer. Whether or not the strikes yield result, it is we the students that bear the brunt.

Stuck in the middle of the fight are the students, between two Kings, ASUU and the Federal Government, unable to move backwards or sideways. Inconclusive meetings we see each time, glaring in headlines.

”It is bad government, not bad people” Johann Wolfgang said, “that cause revolutions.” The government is at fault, but it has failed to stand up to its responsibility. The government has failed in its duty to serve us, the masses.

So, I hear that the reasons for this strike are the unimplemented agreements from 2009. I say what about them? But them, looking around me, I see plenty reasons for a strike.

We do not have to go as far as discussing the government’s failure to release funding for the revitalization of public universities, the release of reports on Earned Academic Allowances (EAU) or the release of the university pension fund operational issue.

Looking around me, I see abandoned and uncompleted development projects that add to the ‘aesthetics’ of our schools. I see the 1:1000 ratio of the students and lecturers that aids swift learning of students.

In fact, our over populated classrooms that again lack public address systems ensure effective learning and assimilation of knowledge among other things is enough ingredients to make a strike.

What options have our lecturers. “When you do what you love,” a Sage once said, “you will never have to work for a day in your life.” Even if our lecturers derive joy in teaching, it all becomes burdensome in the face of unfavorable conditions.

I think its high time we reminded the government that the education of the youths is a right, not a privilege. Everyone is entitled to strike-free education. It shouldn’t be exclusive to the children of the rich, powerful and the privileged.
However, as much as I want to support ASUU for standing up for the education sector, I’d rather remind them that the subjects of their anger and annoyance sit peacefully in their offices planning the next election while we, the students, are the ones who are thrown out of school.

The incessant strikes affect our education, wastes our time, makes us less productive and contributes a lot to the deterioration in the education sector.

ASUU should note that the Nigerian government has no interest in the education sector, not in the least. Thus, they’ll not answer to your call until they’re certain there’s a political benefit to it.

While this not affect them at all, it affects us, the students.

The government should be reminded that even though the pawns are weak and vulnerable, they remain the soul of the chess.

Even though our fates do not lie in our hands, tossed between the two adversaries, we remain the leaders of tomorrow!

I hear the strike was ‘suspended’, good. One can only hope we have a hitch-free academic session now. After all, the strike was suspended, not called off.

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