Award winning Nigerian actress, Omotola Ekeinde, has berated the Federal Government over the lingering industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Omotola, who in April made the Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, took to her Facebook and Twitter accounts on Tuesday to express anger at the way the Federal Government is handling education in the country.
The United Nations World Food Programme Ambassador, who commands a following of 1,163,835 and 277, 040 on Facebook and Twitter respectively, wrote that government has a responsibility to provide qualitative education to the citizenry.
She painted Nigeria as a sleeping giant and lamented that with the ongoing strike the youths were simply “wasting away.”
The actress said education “is a right and not a privilege” and urged the affected Nigerian students to stand up for their rights and take actions to right the wrongs in the nation’s education system.
She wrote, “Education is a right, not a privilege. This should be the first responsibility of every parent, state and country to their child. Why are students of the most populous black nation in the world, ‘Giant of Africa,’ not in school?
“Where are all the educational funds? Why is there a crippling silence when Nigerian schools have been shut for almost four months and the youths are wasting away with their future uncertain? Barka de Sallah. As we pray, eat and relax on the occasion of this holiday, our youths should spare sometime to think. Youths, your destiny is in your hand.”
Her fans appear to have been challenged by her online crusade. They lauded Omotola, who broke into trending topics on the Nigerian social media space on Tuesday, for being the first Nigerian celebrity to speak out against the ASUU debacle.
A particular Facebook fan of Omotola, Esther Ukeh-Negbo, wrote, “We thank you for coming out to support the youths. Other celebrities are busy wearing the latest designers to red carpet events. It is not their fault, they are not in our shoes. You have proved yourself to be a good mother who feels the pains of others. I hope to follow in your footsteps in the future.”
Appreciating the actress for her concern, Chukwuemeka Nwaeze, said on Facebook that it was high time the government took education as a top priority as it obtains in other parts of the world.
Nwaeze said, “Omosexy please tell our leaders. As you can see, our government has deprived us this basic rights because of their misplaced priority. May God help us in this nation. Our leaders should know that education is a top priority anywhere in the world. Thank you, my sister, for bringing up this issue.”
Some university students affected by the strike observed that the political class were paying lip service to the educational sector because many of their children were getting the best of education abroad.
Many of Omotola’s social media followers lamented that it was pathetic and disgraceful that some African countries were getting it right while the Nigerian government had largely preoccupied itself with entering into agreements without honouring them.
A Twitter user with the name Elpresie wrote, “Their children are in private schools in London and in various western countries. We should ask the FG why our future leaders are wasting away in peril. It’s sad. You pick up a newspaper and all you read about is the Peoples Democratic Party’s internal crisis.”
They also blamed the dwindling voice of the mass of Nigerian students on government who, according to them, has broken into their ranks to achieve selfish objectives.
“Some universities don’t even have a students’ union. Some do have but they have been bought over,” a Twitter user, Bukkie Gold, wrote.
While some of Omotola’s fans asked ASUU to continue with the strike, a section of her followers disagreed, saying the university teachers were asking for too much.
One Julie Ooja-Okoh wrote on Twitter that the strike action was in order and should continue until government shows readiness to adequately fund the education sector. “Omo sexy, see me o. Imagine a university where you have to hang on the window to study, take lectures and write exams in that same position to pass.”
But another Twitter user, Saltz Lounge, who believed that ASUU has taken the industrial dispute too far, said, “It’s not that the government is right as regards development in education system but at this point I think ASUU has over- pushed its demands. Has anybody ever asked why state university lecturers are involved in this strike action?”