Students in tertiary institutions across the country are tired of staying at home. Hence, they are appealing to both parties to reach an agreement so they can return to school, as the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) still locked in a seemingly unending battle, Gistlover reports.
Students in federal public universities are sad. Reason? The Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are yet to resolve issues on the industrial action embarked upon by the union.
They are lamenting the continuous closure of public universities. ASUU strike has lasted for more than two months, yet, there seems to be no end in sight. However, they are appealing to both parties to resolve the face-off to allow them return to class.
ASUU, on February 14, 2022, declared a one-month warning strike following the failure of the Federal Government to implement the famous February 7, 2019 Memorandum of Action (MoA), which contained important highlights of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement and aggregated the cardinal arguments of the 2012 and 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the 2017 MoA.
The union also blamed the government for failing to implement the December 2020 MoA when the longest strike in the history of the nation took place.
However, it extended the strike for two months after the expiration of the one month warning strike.
The strike is 67 days old with schools shut and students forced to stay at home.
ASUU, FG negotiation hit gridlock
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has insisted that the government should first pay the accrued N200 billion revitalization fund for revamping infrastructure in the various institutions before it calls off the strike or engage in further negotiations.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, noted that the May 2021 agreement is still sacrosanct and should be implemented for sanity to return to the tertiary institutions.
Speaking on the negotiations for improved salaries for university staff, the ASUU chief said the government was yet to come up with any proposal on that. According to him, ASUU met recently with the Federal Government’s renegotiation team but the government failed to come up with any proposal.
However, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the renegotiation of conditions of service of the university lecturers, must be guided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principle of ability to pay.
Ngige said the former renegotiation committee headed by Prof. Jubril Munzali proposed a 200 per cent rise in the emoluments for university workers, which the Federal Government refused to pay.
ASUU and Federal Government have not also agreed on the payment platform for lecturers in universities. They are at daggers drawn on IPPIS and ASUU’s UTAS.
‘We want to go back to school’
Abiodun Adesanya, a student at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to sheathe its sword and go back to the lecture rooms,noting that the strike was delaying students’ academic progress
“I would say ASUU has a just cause for the strike. Unfortunately, irrespective of how good their reasons are, they are really delaying the progress of students. What ASUU is fighting for is not just for now, but for the future of our educational system. ASUU should soft-pedal because the prolonged strike is delaying students’ academic progress,” he said.
Ruth Ighomrore, a 300-Level student at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), called on Federal Government and ASUU to reach a compromise because students were beginning to lose interest in learning.
“This strike is really affecting people mentally, psychologically, and emotionally. Many students are losing interest in learning. First, it was COVID-19 and now strike. It is prolonging the number of years one has to spend in school and I am gradually losing interest in reading and writing exams. ASUU should reopen schools,” she said.
Ifedolapo Babatunde, a student at the Federal University of Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), appealed to both parties to prioritize students in their negotiations.
“I am not just tired of the house, but ASUU is just prolonging our (students) future, causing unnecessary delay and tampering with our plans. I have things I want to achieve at different stages of my life, but they keep disrupting my plans. Please, they should think about our future and just call off the strike,” she said.
Bamise Temidayo, a 400-Level student at Ekiti State University, urges ASUU to call off the strike
“I’m tired of sitting at home. I want to finish my project. I want to finish my final semester so I can move on to the next phase of my life. ASUU should please call off the strike,” he said.
Sikiru Sulaiman, a Microbiology student at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), appealed to ASUU to consider the future of students even when the government seems unconcerned.
“This strike has negative effects on students. Whenever the union embarks on strike, it weakens the strength of students’ brains and obstructs academics. Some students entered into a marriage because of the strike. ASUU should consider the future of the students even when the government seems unconcerned,” he said.
Oshinaike Oluwafunmilola, a 200-Level student of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), pleaded with ASUU to rescind its decision on the strike. She said she was tired of staying at home as there was much ground to be covered in school.
“This is from the depth of my heart. I want to urge ASUU to, please, rescind its decision on the ongoing strike. I am tired of staying at home as there are enough things to cover in school,” she said.
Another student at the Federal University of Oye- Ekiti (FUOYE), Abel Jimmy, said there was need for ASUU to call off the strike because students were not getting any younger.
“Aside from wasting our time, students will end up being rushed to make up for the lost time which mostly leads to failure. ASUU should please call off the strike to avoid massive failure once the school resumes,” he said.
Another student of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Boluwatife Ojo, said the strike had encouraged youths to engage in cybercrime and money rituals.
His words: “It is painful that the issue of strikes has now turned into regular and yearly activities in Nigeria’s educational system. The strike has led youths to vices and all forms of criminal tendencies. Students now take advantage of not being engaged academically to engage in cybercrime and money rituals.”
“As students, we can only vent our anger, displeasure, but we do not have the capacity, power, and wherewithal to instruct or call our lecturers back to classes. However, we can only appeal to them, to passionately consider the interest of students. The union should also find better alternatives to resolve this issue without making students suffer.
“We also use this medium to call the attention of the Federal Government to do the needful so as to ensure a smooth academic calendar for students, other than delaying them unnecessarily because of their actions and inactions on the educational system.
“The government should also find a lasting solution to ASUU strike or any industrial action that might be embarked on by other university unions to forestall recurrence.”
For Olawale Rahman, a 300- Level History and Strategic Studies student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the strike has brought about depression.
“This strike is seriously actually affecting students. I think ASUU must have a rethink and resume. Youths have lost interest in studying. This will in one way or the other affect the growth of this country.
“Moreover, students are depressed. Frankly, school is one of the ways by which students get away from depression and achieve their goals. Now many are into in drugs and other illicit ventures. The Federal Government should please settle whatever is between them and ASUU so that we can all go back to the classroom,” he said.
Babatunde Adedayo, an English Language student, OAU, urged the union to demand their entitlements from the Federal Government using other means instead of always embarking on strike.
“While I urge the Federal Government to deliver on its agreement with ASUU, I appeal to the union to seek another way to demand their entitlements from government instead of embarking on strike which affects students.
“Those that ought to graduate last year were unable to, due to the industrial action. They are affected again with this current strike. Also, those in one level or the other cannot move forward. No one can say when the strike is going to be called off over failure to reach an agreement,” he said.
Mohammed Halimat-Oyibo, a 400-Level Biochemistry student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the strike has dampened her spirit and weakened her zeal for academics.
“For me, staying at home because of the strike is discouraging one and weakening our zeal for academics. It disrupts our plans and makes us feel schooling is of no importance anymore,” she said.
Ajadi Joshua, a 300-Level Law student, University of Ibadan (UI), urged ASUU to reopen schools because the strike has affected students’ years of graduation.
“Four-year courses turn to six years. Five- year courses to seven, eight years, which is not good enough. Apart from the waste of time, it also affects one’s resume. I have been forced to change my expected date of graduation on my resume four to five times,” he said.
Oshoniyi Mofiyinfoluwa Aderonke, a 400-Level Human Kinetics and Health Education student of EKSU expressed worries over the inability of secondary school graduates to proceed with their academics because of the ASUU strike.
“It’s two months, secondary school graduates can’t progress with their studies even if they pass UTME except they go to polytechnic or private schools. This strike is not in favor at all. I should graduate by June or so but I’m stuck here. It is slowing my plans. I thought I had paid my last house rent since March 2021 but I have no choice but to renew my rent again.
“Students have plans when they want to graduate and what to do after, but it is all messed up with this recurring strike. This is really affecting us academically. I cannot remember my course code anymore. It might sound funny but some students cannot remember their matriculation numbers anymore,” she said.