The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has now been on strike for nearly six months to protest against the Nigerian government over its failure to implement the agreements it entered with the union.
This unreached agreement between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria, has shut down universities campuses, giving lecturers no choice but to evade classes, also, it abruptly gave students what can be best described as a ‘sit home with your parent’s order’.
The strike which commenced on Valentine’s day, February 14th of this year as a warning strike is currently ongoing and will be the second longest strike in Nigeria’s history. This current strike has also ascertained that the Academic Staff Union of Universities has now embarked on strike for 19 months ever since the emergence of President Muhammad Buhari, making his regime the longest strike period recorded ever in Nigeria since independence.
One of the African Proverbs goes that when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. Apparently, the grasses of the situation are no other but the Nigerian students who have through their union body, The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), staged protests on different occasions asking the government and ASUU to settle their conventional scores and reopen universities in Nigeria.
Despite protests from students, and a series of meetings by ASUU and the Federal government, the season film does not seem to have an end yet, as reaching an agreement is taking an eternity.
The Struggle And Negative Side
ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, giving reasons for the Union’s standpoint disclosed in a report that Nigerian universities will be like Primary schools in the next three years if not for their current struggle.
‘If we are not sincere, if we are not fully committed, we would have abandoned this struggle. Do you know what will happen? In the next two to three years Nigerian universities will be like public primary and secondary schools. What we are saying is that the government should change our system. I want to plead to the president on behalf of Nigerian children who cannot afford it that the legacy he should leave behind is to transform this system.’ He said.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Enugu State Chapter joined the nationwide protest in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) through the state Chairperson of NLC, Virginus Nwobodob disclosed that keeping students out of school is a dangerous move that has affected the students and lecturers welfarism.
‘ASUU members are hungry. A lot of ASUU members have been thrown out of their houses because they can no longer pay their rents and their utility bills.’
He added, “keeping our children out of school is dangerous. Some of these children have turned to kidnappers.”
Also, some effect of this strike is that some female students are now engaging in hook-up business, while the guys are now massively involved in a fast and furious race of the growing multimillion-dollar betting Industry, they have seen it as a way to make cool cash before resumption. Apparently, the ASUU strike has contributed negatively, doing more harm than the expected good to Nigerian students.
However, stakeholders in government do not seem to be bothered if the strike is called off or not because their children do not go to school in Nigeria. This issue has generated another heat that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) asked government officials in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to withdraw their children from foreign universities and enroll them in Nigeria so they can also feel the pain in their shoes.
Students Losing Opportunities
Things are no longer at ease as many lecturers are not receiving their salaries, and for the students, especially those in their final year, things have fallen into improper fractions as most of them are now losing gigs and employment opportunities due to the delay in their certificates.
The students have lamented how employers are demanding certificates from them before considering giving them a job, however, their unfinished academic activities have contributed to this rejection from their potential employers.
A final year student at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Phillip Anjorin narrates how the current strike has landed punches on him and his friend.
He said, “Merely thinking how my university, which is a state-owned institution, could stay this long in the strike without putting us into consideration hurts me more.
“My colleague applied for training and it was certain that he’ll be employed as a graduate intern after the training. But he’s not eligible despite the knowledge he has already gained. I’m sure he’s not the only one out of millions. Others have their painful stories too.” He added.
A finalist of English studies, at Obafemi Awolowo University, Bukola Shabi, also emphasized that the strike has affected her to the extent that all her plans to explore and look for good job opportunities this year were forfeited due to the strike.
She said, “Staying home for the first two months hoping we would get called back soon, then applying for jobs and hearing that they were looking for graduates ripped me off so many opportunities. It’s just unfortunate we have to be the ones bearing the consequences of their negligence.”
Similarly, a final year student at the University of Ibadan, Babatunde Balogun disclosed that the strike has denied him his plans to apply for postgraduates after BSC, adding that he’s using five years pursuing a 4 years course.
He said, “The plan was to proceed for post-graduate studies immediately. The ASUU strike shattered this dream years ago. It’s heart-wrenching whenever I remember it’s my fifth year in the University pursuing a four-year degree and I am yet to resume classes for my final year. There are so many job opportunities and scholarships out there, unfortunately no certificate to binge on them.
“Imagine being out of school for over six months in a country where there is no war. I’m not getting younger. It irks me when I see my peers graduating from private institutions. Gone are the days we are proud of schooling in either federal or state institutions, these values and pride are now in extinction. As it is, I just want to graduate. He added.
Recently President Muhammad Buhari donated the sum of N1.4 billion to a neighboring country, the Niger republic which has generated a lot of reactions from Nigerians as some see it as the right thing at the wrong time, in a situation when the country is still battling with different economic, societal problems, insecurity, and ASUU strike.
Olawale Solomon, a 400-level student of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko also reacted that the ASUU strike has blocked his chances of working in a ministry.
“I was asked that after I finish my Bsc that I should bring my C.V so that they can help me, but unfortunate ASUU disrupted my plans and age is running over me, this bring worries to me everyday I think about the opportunities I had, but due to ASUU strike, I couldn’t make it this year again. And as we all know, Nigeria is a populous country whereby many graduates are out there looking for green pastures, no employment, so any opportunity someone has must be utilized well.
“It’s the fundamental right of the government to fund universities. The allocation given to education is very small, the Federal Government should take education seriously, if not Nigeria will not be among the developed countries, education should be taken seriously because it’s the success of any nation.” He noted.
Promise Eze, a final year student of Uthman Danfodio University revealed that he had planned that by the middle of the year, he must have graduated.
He said, “I planned that I should have graduated, and even before NYSC, I should be out there finding and seeking opportunities for myself. But here I am, stuck at home, stuck with all the big dreams in my head. And it’s not fair. I’m not getting any younger. The ASUU strike robbed me of some jobs a 25-year-old could get, I can’t get them anymore because of my long stay at the University.”
Also, a student of the Federal University of Oye Ekiti, Yusuf olukokun disclosed that he gets annoyed anytime he thinks of how unfairly the Nigerian education sector treats him.
“The fact is I don’t have any job waiting for me outside this is just Nigeria stuff, but I’m stuck, strike has been the major block for me to see what the labor market has to offer.”
Before the ongoing strike, students have been complaining about the effective running of their counterparts’ academic calendar in private universities, who fortunately gain quick access to employment with meaningful salaries while they are still at ‘home-alone’ waiting for (ASUU) and the Federal Government to settle their dispute.