By Sonia Odigie
Over the years, students in Nigerian Federal universities have experienced the dark sides of being a student. Being born a Nigerian has it ‘perks’ but most Nigerians believe that being born a Nigerian is already a minus to them, talk more of studying in a Federal university where one has to constantly endure as university unions embark on one strike or the order, with the looming potentials of damaging the education sector in the country.
Growing up as a child in Nigeria, I was made to believe that education was the key to success. But how do I achieve success when it seems like the government of this country have little or no interest in the nation’s educational sector.
The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) and the federal Government of Nigeria are always in conflict over funding of the universities and better working conditions for its members.
ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on the strike to demand the re-negotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU agreement; adoption of UTAS as a replacement for IPPIS as a payment platform; payment of salary arrears for academic staff; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); revitalisation funds for the universities; release of White Paper on Visitation Panels that concluded their assignment last year; and non-proliferation of state universities.
The ongoing strike has lasted for over 200 days, leaving the students helpless and idle. Despite several meetings between the federal Government and Asuu there is no doubt that the Academic staff union of University have become an object of riddicle to the federal government of Nigeria as there has been no positive outcome from their meetings
Students in federal universities have become frustrated and have settled for menial jobs as they are forced to remain at home by the ongoing strike which can instigate them to join criminal activities such as cybercrime, kidnapping, armed robbery and the likes.Most of them are learning skills to avoid being idle which is important, especially now that there is no hope of securing a sustainable job after graduation.
Recurrence of the ASUU strike has numerous negative impacts on us, something the government and ASUU don’t consider when they fail to come to an agreement. We lost a whole session to this same madness two years ago. The same thing is already happening now, with the ongoing strike.
Aside from the fact that students end up spending longer period of time to complete their studies because of the interruptions caused by the strikes. The fall in the standard of education is inevitable, due to numerous breaks occasioned by the strikes, and subsequent rush to complete the syllabus on resumption. What options are left for students and parents? Not too many. Private universities are too expensive. The prevailing foreign exchange rates, have also priced foreign universities out of the reach of majority of Nigerians.
It’s so sad to hear that those who should act to better the education system send their children to top universities around the world.
According to Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” If the strike continues for too long there might be no world to change through education as a lot of students have lost hope in the Nigerian education system.
This ongoing of strike has made it known to us that the people in power are only concerned about spending money on frivolities, it has opened our eyes to the fact that successive governments have reduced education to its lowest and are only after making generational wealth for their families, leaving the common man to bear his cross.
The federal Government and academic staff union of University should please come to their senses as the lingering strike is doing more harm than good to destroy the dreams and aspirations of most Nigerian students.
I believe if they can come together to reach an agreement which would put an end to the constant strike, both parties and those affected will be happy and the educational system in Nigeria will become better.
Both the federal government and ASUU should realize that what they are doing is that whether by omission or commission, they are putting a sword on the soul that holds the nation’s education sector and jeopardizing the future of the youths.
If this is a contest of egos, this is the time to put a stop to it. The interest of the students and the educator sector and nothing else should be the priority. With the way things are going, I wonder whether we the students do count anymore in the equation.