We’re making beads, learning computer studies, playing games, doing assignments and eating more
By Dayo Adesulu, Elizabeth Uwandu, Kelechukwu Iruoma Happy Ekeyede & Miracle Ndubuisi
AS the strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, enters its 31st day, grounding academic activities in virtually all universities in the country, students have lamented lack of jobs to keep them busy, while labour leaders and the Federal Government work out their strategies to cope with the situation.
While some students have enrolled to learn different skills during the period, some said they will continue to stay at home in the hope that government and ASUU would reach an agreement soon, which would lead to the calling off of the strike.
Frustrating and disgusting
Chinyere Udechukwu, a 300 level student of Literature of the University of Benin, said the strike has not only crippled her academically but made her irrelevant as she is unable to find a job to keep her busy. She said: “I must tell you that the strike is a sour grape that not only suspended my academic quest, it has also hindered me from getting a job to keep me busy. This is because most employers have refused to employ undergraduates whose institutions are on strike because they believe such persons have no definite time of staying. They feel that such person might be called back to school at any time.”
She said they prefer to employ an undergraduate that came for holiday and not the one that is on strike. Agnes Onyilo, a student of Benue State University, said “ASUU strike has frustrated me and I don’t know what to do again as there are no jobs. It is not ASUU’s fault but that of the government. They have wasted my precious time making my education slow and extending the year I plan to wrap up my studies. It is annoying, frustrating and disgusting.”
A student, Pius Patrick said that he is unlikely to go back to school if the strike is not called off soon. “I will be pursuing certificate without an assurance of getting a job after graduation. If ASUU likes, let it allow the strike last for years. Nigeria’s educational system is frustrating. I am making plans to ensure that my male children become footballers,” he said.
Students do nothing at home
Joseph from Ambrose Alli University, AAU, Edo State, said since the strike is still on, he is a bit frustrated over this issue. “But I am reading, praying with hope that government and ASUU settle this ongoing issue. But presently it really sucks that I am still at home doing nothing.”
Progress, also from AAU, said he is really not doing anything at home, noting, “I’m just hanging out with friends, helping my father at work. My friends and I are planning to go into business if at the end of this year the strike is not called off. I believe and hope that ASUU calls off the strike so students can go back to school because we are tired of staying at home doing nothing.”
Ifeyinwa Mbamara, a final year student of Accountancy in Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU, said she is at home and tired of the strike but have been preparing to learn bead making to make better use of her time. “I am still chilling and hoping for the best and if I don’t get a positive reply by the end of this month I will get a job and go on with my life,” said Peace, another student of Ambrose Ali University.
Priscilla Eze said at the moment that she has been doing nothing, noting that she is staying at home helping her parents with the house chores and praying the strike is rescinded soon, so she can get back to school.
Dera Nwosu, a 300 level student of Mass Communication, also from COOU, urged government to intensify efforts to ensure that they reach a consensus with ASUU. He said: “I am frustrated already at home but with high hopes, I am doing nothing because I believe that the strike would be called off soon.”
Engage in activities or delayed calendar
Pelumi Olugbenga, a student of History and International Studies of the Lagos State University, said the strike which has revealed the fact that government is not taking education seriously, had made him resort to reading and writing articles. “The current situation is quite unfortunate and sad. I had initially envisaged to be in my final year in a matter of weeks but the strike has dashed my hopes. The strike has substantiated the fact that studying in a government-controlled varsity is four years plus X and the value of X will be known only when you graduate.”
He said in the meantime, he has dedicated the holiday to the reading of books, writing of articles and other self-development related activities. “To be frank, the country’s educational sector is not well-funded and it deserves greater attention. If we want to develop, then we must be really ready to fund our educational sector. UNESCO recommends that each country should spend 26 per cent of its total annual budget on education but is that obtainable in Nigeria? We budget less than 10 percent for our education sector and it’s sad,” said Olugbenga.
“I attended the Hesselbein Fellowship Summit for Young Professionals at the University of Pittsburgh, USA in July and I can boldly posit that education stimulates critical thinking. Critical thinking births innovations and innovations drive development. “Government should start seeing education as part of our national security and not just and ‘anything goes’ approach,” he said.
“The Hesseinbein fellow pleaded that government and ASUU should reach a compromise for the benefits of the students as soon as possible for our future is at stake.”
Karen Anaeme, who was lucky to have written her final year exams at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, few days before the strike started but was unable to do her clearance said she has started learning how to sew. She said while the strike lingers, she would utilize the time judiciously to be grounded in sewing.
Amara Orji, a third-year student of Mass Communication, UNN, said the strike came when she was supposed to begin her two months compulsory internship programme. She said: “I am currently undergoing my internship programme in Enugu and I pray that the strike should not continue even after I would have finished the programme.”
For Owolabi Temitayo Alexander, Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS Ekiti chapter, said the strike was affecting students in both negative and positive ways. “It is affecting the students negatively and positively on a 70:30 basis. Some students are supposed to have written their final exams but they couldn’t due to the ongoing strike. On the negative side, there is the increased rate of social vices particularly cybercrime and psychologically, students are getting academically tired. Some students have lost faith in the Nigerian educational system.”
On the positive aspect, he stated that during strikes, students will always want to wile away time by learning one or two things like tailoring, trade, etc. “It is an avenue to have vocational skills that are key for survival,” added the Ekiti NANS President.
Increased cost of living
The continuous stay of students at home, according to parents and guardians, has affected their standard of living, considering the high cost of living in the country. Temitayo, Ekiti NANS President, called for an end to the strike, stating “As students, we want the FG and ASUU to reach a compromise. We are even confused as we know it might be difficult for FG to fulfill its promise. So, all efforts should be geared towards ending the strike as it at the same time affects our parents who have to spend double for their wards.”
A guardian, who identified himself as Innocent, stated that since the strike began, three of his relations in tertiary institutions have come to stay with him till the strike is called off. According to him: “They are consuming the little food I have in the house. They are using the opportunity given by the strike to consume a lot of food and things are hard. The cost of living in the country is high.”