by Dapo Egunjobi
There are other factors; the instability in electricity that adversely affects teaching, clinical trials and laboratory researches, inappropriate funding of the educational sector by the government…
Before I got to the University, I never really knew much about strike actions. I do hear about it but showed little concern probably because I finished from a private secondary school where I did the last three years. Even when I was in my junior secondary school, I can’t remember if we were ever affected by any strike.
During the Obasanjo administration, I remember vividly that my elder ones were at home for about a period of four months when they both told me that they were affected by an industrial action that forced them to stay at home. After a series of meetings the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had with the Federal Government, they failed to reach a compromise and this led to the shut down of Universities across the country and academic activities were paralyzed. It was this period I really started to know what strike action meant.
Before I got to the higher institution in 2006,I had made a calculation on paper when I tried to figure out the most likely time I would finish school either with the four-year course I came in with or if eventually I would change my course to medicine in my second year. I would only just have to add two years to the calculated date but then my brother came to the table and saw what I was writing where he told me to add ‘plus x’ to the number of years I’m to spend in the University. Of course, he wasn’t trying to say I was going to have an extra year in the University but he was almost certain that at some point in my study, there would be some delays as a result of an anticipated strike action.
I find it difficult to pen down as I was only just positive that such will not happen in my time.
The first year came and I managed to escape. The session finished February 2007 which was supposed to be the normal time. We were to resume June 2007 but the school adjusted her calendar and added three months extra to our resumption date in order for them to normalize the calendar back to the old ‘September to June’ style after which you can have the months of July and August to yourself as a summer break.
The university didn’t even achieve this for a period of two years before another nationwide strike came on board. It was the same agitation of salary increment and other reforms in the education sector the ASUU cried on in 2005 that led to the strike. The Government had not heeded to their cry. The whole university calendar was disrupted and there was need for another adjustment.
From my second year till the time after my third year when I was about to cross over to the clinical school, there was no major strike that stopped academic activities. However, when we got to clinical school, we were able to do our introductory posting which lasted for eight weeks after which the second strike I just talked about came up.
This time, we were not even taught in the clinics and wards. This lasted for a whole four months. Then I began to wonder if I will ever leave school on time. I thought the‘plus x’ my brother talked about could only last for not more than a month or two but lo and behold, it was over seven months extra already and it started to become unbearable. Many of my friends complained on a daily basis but we could not do anything to help the situation as we just watched in despair. We started to talk about the political aspect of the whole situation and how badly this has affected the education sector and the kind of image it’s giving to the nation.
ASUU strike had not only been our problem. We had in the past been affected also by other strike actions be it at the State or Federal level. Among these are health workers strikes, fuel crises, and local political unrest to mention but a few. All these have in one way or the other affected our studies.
The education system has really deteriorated. We don’t produce quality graduates as of the old. Many things are lacking. Strike is just one major factor I talked on. There are other factors; the instability in electricity that adversely affects teaching, clinical trials and laboratory researches, inappropriate funding of the educational sector by the government, undue politicizing of some major posts in the university, nepotism, tribalism and inadequate reward of success of brilliant students.
My question is now to Nigerian university students. On our own, how do you think we can deal with these negative changes particularly that of the strike actions which halt our education on a yearly basis?
Do you think we can influence these to a large scale to suit our own purpose? Do you even think ASUU have a plan for us or they are just after their own welfare alone? After all when they go on strike, we automatically do too.
This article was first published in 2012 during a previous ASSU strike.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.