THE ongoing strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is eighteen weeks old, and as it is, the lecturers and their employers, the Federal Government of Nigeria, are working hard to resolve the issues (and areas of disagreement).
The nationwide strike followed Federal Government’s failure to honour what is termed as The Academic Earned Allowance (AEA) which formed a component of the 2009 agreement government signed with the union. The lecturers said they won’t return to the classrooms until the agreement with the Federal Government is implemented in full. The implementation, however, according to Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance will cost the government about N90 billion.
When two elephants fight, the grass suffers. The grass here are the students who stay at home – and because of the realities on ground some of them have taken up activities to engage their time while the strike lasts. ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to some students who narrated what they do now to buy time till the strike ends.
AMANDA OSAGIE, University of Lagos
I’m Amanda Osagie, a 200 level student of University of Lagos. Since I love modeling, I have continued from where I stopped. I have been in and out of the studio from one photoshoot to another.
CHIAMAKA ADIGWE, Lagos State University
Right now, I am learning to make beads. I have even passed the training stage, all what’s left is to perfect it. It would be easy for me to make extra money when the strike is eventually called off.
ADEYEMI OMOLAYO, Obafemi Awolowo University
Since the strike started I have been doing little business here and there. I sell phones, laptops and at times cars. Just to make little money. I am also learning to start a business when they eventually call off the strike and I finish school.
ABIOLA TEMITOPE, Ahmadu Bello University
My name is Abiola Temitope, a student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I am studying Mass Communication and I am in my final year. It has not been easy because I should have finished school by now.
I have been helping my sister at her shop. She sells baby items and other household things. At least, she gives me a token at the end of the month, that has been keeping body and soul together.
EMMANUEL OPEYEMI, Ahmadu Bello University
My name is Emmanuel Opeyemi, I am a post graduate student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Since the strike, I have gainfully engaged myself. I am serving as a personal assistant to my uncle who is a pastor. It can be quite engaging and tasking but I make a token from it.
We are appealing to ASUU to call off the strike so that students can go back to school.
OLABISI OLALEKAN, Lagos State University
I am a 300 level student of Business Administration, Lagos State University (LASU). It’s a painful experience, staying at home for four months doing nothing. I had to start learning hairdressing. And I hope by the time we resume, I should have acquired enough knowledge in that field, because no one knows exactly when the strike will be called off.
We don’t even know the outcome of their meeting. We are all fed up with the situation. They should just consider the interest of the students, not their selfish agenda.
KAYODE ADEBOYE, University of Ibadan
I am a 200 level student of Computer Engineering, University of Ibadan. I am now working in a factory in Lagos just to keep myself busy, pending the time the crisis will be resolved. It has not been a pleasant experience all this while but we students don’t have a choice.
We can only plead to the two warring parties to sheathe their swords in our interest. We all want to go back to school and complete our studies.
SEUN OLOYEDE, LAUTECH
The federal government and ASUU are non-challant and careless about the education system of the country. They call us future leaders while they are busy destroying the future we are meant to lead.
I have been selling recharge cards since the strike.
ADEOLA BADMUS, Olabisi Onabanjo University
It is not surprising because the nation’s education system has not actually been encouraging, even before the strike. Federal government and ASUU should just pity us and let us study in peace. I have been modeling since the strike.
WHY UNIVERSITIES MAY RESUME THIS WEEK
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has begun consultations with its members on whether or not to accept the new offer of a yearly payment of N220 billion over the next five years made by the Federal Government, in furtherance to the implementation of the 2009 agreement aimed at ending the four-month strike by the university lecturers.
ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan who had a 14-hour meeting with them that ended in the early hours of Tuesday, November 5, 2013, had made the offer of the annual payment of N220 billion for five years after the union had insisted on getting paid N350 billion annually over the next four years.
But the Federal Government had pleaded with the union to be reasonable in its demands so that the universities could be re-opened. It also appealed to ASUU’s representatives at the meeting to take its offer to its members and gave them one week to thrash it out. If the Federal Government’s offer is accepted, the amount will be used for the universities infrastructure under the 2009 agreement.
ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that the striking public universities lecturers met in the nine zones of ASUU with branch chairmen to discuss the outcome of the meeting with Mr. President.
ENCOMIUM Weekly called Lagos State chapter chairman of ASUU, Mr. Karo Ogbinaka, a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, on Friday, November 8, 2013, 2013 at 3.16 p.m to know the outcome of their own meeting. He said, “We have not had any meeting. As soon as we get a green light from our President, Mr. Nasir Faggea, we would have our meeting.”
ENCOMIUM Weekly also gathered that the Ibadan zone of ASUU held its meeting at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, while that of the North Central zone took place at the Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State.
The Federal Government had, on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, after a marathon meeting agreed to inject N1.1 trillion into the public universities over five years. The money, the Federal Government promised, would be released at the rate of N220 billion annually starting from 2014.
THE HISTORY OF ASUU STRIKE IN NIGERIA
1995 5 months
2001 3 months
2002 2 weeks
2003 6 months (ended in 2004)
2005 3 days
2006 1 week
2007 3 months
2008 1 week
2009 4 months
2010 5 months and one week
2011 3 months ended in 2012
2013 4 months and still counting
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN and AJOKE ONITOLO