It is yet again that news we all dread but secretly look forward to. The Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU) has begun the never-ending threat of a strike if the government does not answer their demands. This editorial is not to take the sides of either the Union or the Government but the neglected and maybe, indifferent victims in this scenario; we, the students.
As the news took off with the week, many were unbothered while equally were bothered. At the end of the day, what another strike means for everyone is different. The question now is to you readers. What category do you belong to? Those who have their businesses and plan to get back to it full-time if the lecturers refuse to teach again? Or does who will go to the prayer mountains and beseech God to step into the matter?
Whatever category you belong to, don’t be surprised if your wish is not fulfilled. Since the government has refused to honour the agreement between the two parties, the National Executive Council of ASUU will meet on Thursday, Sept 2 and determine the next course of action. When they meet, it may be the entrepreneurs and holiday-lovers that get their wish if the Union decides to get back to their favourite pastime. However, the prayers of the mountain warriors may reach the heart of the Almighty for the two elephants to find a common ground. That ground where, hopefully, the grass will not suffer.
If you are reading this editorial, you are most-likely among the minority who knows what the looming strike is about. However, do not be surprised when you see your classmates who are not even aware that ASUU and the government are at it again. For those ones, either they just want to graduate before thirty or cannot be bothered again.
You should be bothered, though. If you are a student of any university affected by ASUU, a strike will impact you in more ways than one. We have already seen the effect of the last strike action, coupled with the extended break as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. With most schools having to cancel a whole session and several others accelerating their calendars, there is only a few times that can be worse than now for a strike to happen.
Time is ticking and your age is increasing. The Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) continues to conduct University Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) every year even while applicants have to queue at home behind their senior colleagues that are still writing first semester tests. The lucky you, who is already in the system is not exempted. Five year courses are taking seven years and the job market is not waiting for you either.
Thus, before you say “who ASUU help”, remember that the answer is you. The actions of ASUU determines whether your your friend in that other school graduates before you. It is not that though. These few months accumulate over time and before you know it, you are no longer age-eligible for several opportunities. ASUU officials have little to worry about. The school is their career and their pimary lifestyle.
At this juncture, if you have the same question as several others who have not been keeping in touch with the news channels, we have the answer for you. When you ask, “what does ASUU want again”? The answer is that ASUU wants quite a few things from the government. Their primary demands are that the government should sign a renegotiated agreement with them and pay the N40 billion University Revitalisation Fund. Other requests include the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS), mainstreaming the earned academic allowances of members, combat the proliferation of universities in a system suffering from poor funding.
Now, if you are wondering why these demands seem similar to the 2009 memorandum and consequent ones, don’t wander too far. The context of the strikes remain the same. The never-ending battle which has become a tale for every students in major Nigerian universities has not changed. The combatants remain the same, battlefield remains unchanged and the grasses their continue to suffer.
In conclusion, dear readers, if you own a business and you’re praying for a strike to make more money, don’t wait for one. Put the necessary gears in place for your business to run while you take on academics one year at a time. If you all your eggs are in the basket called school, you can go pray if you want. God may answer you and allow the rest of us to graduate in one piece. Whatever category you belong to, remain that your wishes will not change the reality but may change your reality. Saddle up! The road ahead is shrouded in uncertainty.