In my years of experience in public service, I have come to understand the importance of stakeholder involvement within a community, a state and even a nation when it comes to social change. Who are stakeholders? Stakeholders are people who have an interest in something. For instance, in a nonprofit organization, the stakeholders are the board members, the management, staff, volunteers and those that benefit from the nonprofit’s services.
So what happens when stakeholder interests conflict? When people who have a different stake in something have conflicting interest? The Nigerian Universities have been on strike for over two months now because of what I call “the stakeholder conflicting interest”. The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are not ready to agree because of their conflicting interests; as a result, universities are on strike, leaving students at home for over two months now.
Conflicting interest of stakeholders is not a new phenomenon, but it is important that stakeholders put the ultimate goal of their cause in perspective. In the case of the Nigerian Universities, the ultimate goal should be improving education in Nigeria. But instead, the stakeholders have allowed their conflicting interests to neglect this goal.
“When two elephants fight, the grass suffers” (Nigerian adage). These elephants should keep in mind that they need the grass to survive, remembering that the students, major stakeholders in the university system, are Nigeria’s future leaders.
By Todun Afolabi