By Gabriel Dike, Blessing Ani, Joanna Jaiyeola (Lagos) and Lateef Dada (Osogbo)
On Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would enter its seventh month and there is no end in sight. The implication is that students in public universities may lose an academic session due to the prolonged strike.
ASUU, on February 14, 2022, embarked on industrial action to press home the implementation of its demands by the Federal Government. The union rolled it over twice and in August declared a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike.
Students have expressed concerns about how the strike has caused a hold on their lives. Elijah Ottah, student, Agricultural Engineering, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State, lamented: “I would have graduated and be preparing for NYSC. My mates are currently doing their master’s degree. Some are writing their final year project and I am here wasting my life and time.
“It is mentally frustrating, tiring, and annoying. It is just like you setting your goal and a situation comes to spoil it. You cannot actually move forward. We are wasting time. They should remember it is our time they are wasting.
“Most of the students have mapped out their goals and plans to be executed at the right time. With the sudden hold, their plans are also on hold.”
A 400-Level student of Insurance, University of Lagos, Akoka, Faith Olanrewaju, appealed to the government and ASUU to settle their differences: “It is depressing. When I look at my mates in other universities moving forward, I feel bad.”
Goodness Ezeofor saw the strike differently. She is now producing G-Active Zobo drink: “For me, ASUU strike is a blessing in disguise, because I have been able to achieve a lot.
“At first I was looking for work but none was coming forth. I then signed in for content writing. I was doing well but I felt like this was not just what I wanted, I needed more.
“So, I ventured into making Zobo and it has really been great. Just within the space of three months, and this is the sixth month, so you would have an image of where I have gotten to.”
Ebenezer Odukoya, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State, said: “ASUU and government are not fair. If their children were to be in this same situation, they would have done something about it. A lot of students have been really affected by the strike, some have lost their lives, including going into depression.”
A 400-Level Law student, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, Osun State, Mary Enyi, told our correspondent: “The FG-ASUU battle is impacting negatively on us. All our life plans have been put on hold due to the prolonged strike.
“Being at home for this long is not good, it’s slowing down one’s plans. Students staying at home for this long would possibly reduce the motivation to learn. Everyone must have found an alternative to live within these six months. And when we eventually go back to school, most schools would start rushing syllabuses, which would not help the students at all.
“I would have been in the second semester or be preparing to finish the semester by now. The Federal Government and ASUU should come up with a long-lasting solution, instead of going back and forth and placing the life plans of students on hold.”
Jacob Eze, a 200-Level Law student, University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State said: “If there is a law to restrict public officials’ children from schooling abroad and attending public universities, more attention would have been given to public universities.
“I felt so bad staggering and not ascending to the climax of my undergraduate study. My peers in private institutions are progressing without restraint.
“I gained admission in 2019 and I am still in 200-Level in 2022. My friends in private universities that we gained admission together in 2019 are currently in 400-Level. If there was no strike, I should be aiming to leave for another level by now.
“It is now time for the parties involved in the education industry to think together and stop operating in separate silos and fiefdoms.”
Jonathan Okubi, 300-Level student, University of Jos, Plateau State:
“Can you imagine, public universities shut for over six months? Both parties have frustrated our lives while their children are schooling abroad. Government and ASUU to resolve their differences.”