Nigerian students trapped in trauma as Government toys ASUU strike

Kehinde,27, a spill over student, thought he would see his name from the list of graduating students of his department at the University of Ilorin in August 2021, but unfortunately he couldn’t find his name, though, he had a “B” grade in his final year project but he flunked the general course and a departmental course which must be passed before one is certified to be a graduate of his department so, for that to be done he has to wait extra year and re-take those courses he failed before he can be given a certificate. Now, when ASUU struck its lashes, his anxiety begin to mount. ” This strike really gets me, I swell, there are lots of things I want to lay hands on, nah this school of a thing cover my face, if nah se I don commot school ni… but God knows everything. I for don dey make something do in life nah but anytime I won do anything like this I for don dey reason this school matter”. He voiced out a dismal tone. His course mates are about to finish their one year national compulsory service (NYSC) but his own life remains the same” I don fed up I won’t tell you a lie. That’s why I dey joke sometimes to hide my fraught feelings” he said in Pidgin English.

This Strike is a Stumbling block to Our Plan

When the University of Ilorin joined her Federal universities colleagues in February 14 to embark on one month warning strike, all academic activities were put on hold, though, the school had done with her second semester examination. The final year students of the institution of learning thought they would not be affected by the strike when it was declared since it is only final year project and other clearances are the core aspects left, to keep them stay on campus. ” My final year project has been on hold since February 15 the second day this ongoing industrial action was declared because there is no supervisor that will cross check it. All our supervisors’ offices remain closed. I plan to focus on Agro-business after the completion of my projects and give the business an undivided attention pending the time of our convocation. But thinking that the strike will end soon make me not to venture into it up till now”

:ne the final year students of the school who claimed anonymity told WITHIN NIGERIA;

” I don’t think I will go for NYSC anymore if this strike is longer than this” Yusuf a 300 level student in view said dejectedly. When he gained admission in 2019, he had calculated his age and together with duration of his stay in the University base on his Engineering course but now, that the strike has interrupted his programme he has lost hope of going for his Youthful service. “The year I will graduate initially if there is no strike is the last chance I have, as we all know that there is age restriction for National Youth services corp anything that makes it to exceed the time of graduation written on JAMB admission letter like this, I won’t have opportunity to go anymore” he said.

His second fear is that the school management tend to draft new academic calendars that will make their lecturers rush them and decrease the necessary time a semester supposed to be run.

Emmanuel, 28, a postgraduate student at the university of Ibadan has not yet to get employment since 2017 when he finished his first degree from Obafemi Awolowo university, Ile-Ife. Thus, he thought he could quickly finish his master degree but now that the ASUU strike has set in, he has lost focus.” You know there is time for everything, and the chance of getting employment these days is becoming harder day by day. As you know there is age limit for some work in the labour market, this strike is just wasting my time” he told Within Nigeria

Risk of Traveling and Off-campus house rent

According to findings, more than two university of Ilorin students got burnt in an autocrash accident during the fuel hike while traveling back to their home in Lagos as a result of ASUU strike on February 20 this year. That is part of that grotesque that is scaring Habbeb a 100 level Pharmacy student at Bayero University Kano of traveling, he is from Oyo State he doesn’t used to go home anytime they have break, ” If there is no strike I can decide not travel home to avoid the risk of travelling” but when ASUU declared its strike he is at force to leave the school and went home when the management ordered them to vacate the campus.” As a student staying off campus that just spent two to three months in the house he just rented, now that we are at home the money is counting, without even stay there and that will increase one’s budget of spending more than what is planned” he said gloomily.

The stakeholders Turn deaf ears

Prior to the time that the bomb of this protracted industrial action will totally explode, ASUU as had been ringing a bell of warning since 2021, but the people concerned turned deaf ears to the tintinnabulation of the bell. ASUU in waiting for response from the federal government used a lenient approach at first, in request of its demands thus, it declared a one month warning strike in February 14, in anticipatory to government’s reaction, but the Minister of Labour and employment Dr. Chris Ngige as a conciliator and Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu, Adamu kept mute watching the union to roll over the strike to two months warning strike and now being extended to 12 weeks on Sunday night May 8 during its national executive council ( NEC) meeting held in Abuja . But all efforts to reach out to Professor Osodeke proved abortive on that new development.

” That shows a disheartening level of how Education is, in Nigeria. The development of a nation is the function of the attention that it gives to its Education, therefore every point in time a nation stands between education and its distruction and it is only teachers through quality teaching. That can avert rapture. If the teachers are now being treated badly and they resort to industrial action_ Strike_ as we have it right now it simply means It’s FINISHED this administration has failed us” a Public Affairs Analyst in Abeokuta, Mr. Fatai Adisa said .

Among demands of the union are; Fulfilling of 2009 agreement, revitalisation fund for public universities, payment Earn Academic Allowance (EAA) acceptance of University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment in replace of toxic Integrated payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which violate the University autonomy Act 2003 . Ex- vice- chancellor of the university of Ilorin and JAMB registrar, Prof. Isiaq Oloyede said in a report that, IPPIS is not okay for university system ” I am not a fan of the union but here, ASUU has right to fight for its payment platform” he is quoted.The Government chicane the Union that UTAS would be deployed and that made both parties to conditionally signed agreement on December 23, 2020 a memorandum of action (MoA) which led to the suspension of the nine months old strike. Chris Ngige in a report, accused ASUU’s home grown payment platform (UTAS) that it failed credibility and integrity test but passed users acceptability test. After a dawdling process, the Director general of National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa explained the loophole in the platform built by the union. This issue of payment platforms seems to be a bone of contention in the last two years

Interest in school lost

For Precious, a 300 level of Federal university Oye- Ekiki, he cannot count how many times he had experienced a strike, those series industrial action had made him lose interest in education again and caused him depression and trauma. ” This strike makes me feel that education is no more the way, even all the school I went to right from my tender age seems to be in vain and a waste of time. Anytime I see my friends that we got admitted together in the same year at the private universities that are now in the 400 level, they are about to graduate now, but I’m still battling the 300 level. It actually makes me feel as if there is no future again. How can we be on strike ever since February 14, without it being resolved? There is no assurance that, even if we resume tomorrow there won’t be a strike anytime soon. Don’t let me lie to you, this ASUU strike has made me feel like I should not go back to school again”. He said hopelessly.

Why do students swing into action?

When the outcome of the meeting slated for Monday April 11 by the Federal government ended in deadlock without any agreement reached by both parties, after the warning strike had already been rolled over to another eight weeks, Chris Ngige and the minister for state education Chukwuemeka Nwajuba begin to play duck and drake neglecting the hiccups in their watch and scampered to buy a frigging presidential form at a whopping rate of 100 million naira when all public universities, both teaching and non-teaching to down their tools which is rotting the country’s education. In the early hours of March President Muhammadu Buhari donated $1 million dollar to the Humanitarian Trust Fund of Afghanistan, those among other things assert the government’s preposterous posture towards the plight of Nigerian students. The first protest was first staged by the National Association of Nigerian students on March 25 in Abuja under the leadership of Sunday Asefon. Recently, on May 3 Tuesday the University of Ibadan students gathered at the University of Ibadan gate to demonstrate their tiredness of the protracted strike On May 5, carrying placard with inscription of #End ASUU strike. The students of the University of Benin and Ambrose Ali , also blocked one of the major roads at Ovonramwen square in Benin city. A report showed that the University of Ilorin students under the leadership of Waliu Opeyemi Omoluabi have been planning their own school’s protest; Omoluabi said this in his official Twitter handle. And now, University of Lagos has joined, according to a press release. Possibly more schools are going to join in the near future.

Amand Jennifer a Facebook user, base in Chicago said; Nigerian government should watch out for #EndSARs part two while commenting on action students engaging in the protest.

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