Soremekun Samson Seyifunmi
Although not completely unexpected, the ASUU strike has taken longer than the one-month break lecturers embarked on in February.
The longevity of the strike has now become the hottest topic of conversation amongst the affected populace.
Recall that the Academic Staff Union of Universities commenced a month’s warning strike on the 14th of February, this year.
The strike which was supposed to end by March was extended for another two months. This, according to the union, was because the federal government had failed to meet their demands.
As of press time, students across the nation have no hope of being called back to school on the 14th of May as the government and ASUU continue their strife.
It has been more than 60 days of not learning within a school environment so UnilagSUN spoke to a few students to know what they have been up to.
Fasiji Olamide, a 200-level student of Law in UNILAG, said, “Needless to say, the ASUU strike has brought about a major setback on the academic progress of students under the auspices of the association. However, oddly, I’m in support of the strike because the FG keeps playing games with ASUU. And it’s sad because this same administration promised to invest so much in education, but here we are. On how I’ve been holding up, it’s been tough. I’ve had to bear the major burden of house chores. Yes, I’m a very lazy person, better put, a soft boy! But on the brighter side, it’s been a period of self-discovery for me”.
Another UNILAG student named Abass Roqeeb said, “It has been tough for me. One moment I was a student preparing for exams, the next I’m an unqualified person looking for a job pending the time we would be asked to resume. It’s really exhausting to have to live like this because we are Nigerians that attend public universities. Waking up every morning to do nothing for months would leave a toll on many people’s mental health. They should do something about these strikes, and this time the solution should be permanent”.
A final year student of Agriculture, at the Federal University of Technology, Abeokuta (FUTA) who identified himself as Edward lamented how stressful the continuous strikes have been seeing that he is studying a 5-year course.
“I’m just tired! I’m studying a 5-year course and you’d know how stressful this is. I suffered a setback because of the COVID-19 saga and this same ASUU strike in 2020, and here we are again. I just want to graduate, please. They should please find something to do,” he said.
“This strike would make us lazy. Students will be waiting till the strike is almost called off before they start reading. While those that have read will want to relax because of our mantra, ‘na who first read go first forget.’ But this period is a good time for those of us working”, Aworeni of Quantity Surveying, UNILAG, stated.
Onwunali Tochukwu, 400 level Mathematics Education, UNILAG, angrily said, ” It’s very irresponsible of the government to keep lecturers who have families to take care of waiting for years over their rightful pay. And I understand why the strike is necessary on their part too. But from my perspective as a student in their final year, it’s frustrating! But the strike gives one time to act on other things on their bucket list and thereby the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge”.
A student who told us his name was Oye-nla said, “This strike is what it is. We can’t change many things in this country. In fact, if I had the money, I’d give ASUU and let them end this thing.
“At first, I wasn’t really concerned about this strike, but now, I’m tired. Currently, I’m just trying my best to hustle and also taking some online courses, so I won’t be stagnant despite being on strike”.
Oye-nla is a 300-level student in the Psychology department of UNILAG.
We heard the vexation in the voice of a 100 level student of Mass communication in Unilag, Salman at not being able to have a hitch-free year.
“I gained admission but we couldn’t resume until after almost a year, and I was happy. But we are barely into the semester before this strike action again. I just finished my matriculation ceremony and then we were asked to go home. It’s tiring”, he said.
UNILAGSUN also spoke to some parents of affected students to get their take on the strike.
One Mrs. Adedeji said, “I sent my children to a public university because I can’t afford a privately owned one. But here, the government is making me regret it. I need these children to finish early so I can rest while they pay me. I’ve worked and I’m getting tired. It is wrong for these children to be at home while their own children are abroad.”
A particular Mr. Lawal accused the government of misplaced priorities.
He said, “I have children in the University and I know how bad this is. How would the government not meet ASUU’s demand and they opened New polytechnics? Is that the next thing”.
He added that the strike is an “eyesore”.
It’s 75 days since the warning strike commenced and the federal government is yet to come to a compromise with the union.