If you ever schooled in Nigeria, the name ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) would probably resonate more as the union that goes on incessant strikes that delay students before it clocks that it is a body of university lecturers.
Over the years, Nigerian undergraduates have been under the pain of long strike actions that are always as a result of the frictions between the government and ASUU.
Why ASUU always goes on strike
Before that question is answered, a brief history of the union is necessary. According to the ASUU’s website, the union is an offshoot of the Nigerian Association of University Teachers (NAUT) which was formed in 1965. ASUU formation happened many years after in 1978. This was after the country had enjoyed the oil boom era.
Strike actions are often a last resort the union uses when negotiations and dialogues with the government must have hit a brickwall.
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16 ASUU strikes in 23 years
Punch Newspaper reports that that ASUU went on its first strike in 1988 which was to show its displeasure over General Ibrahim Babangida's regime. That action led to their proscription in the same year. It was gathered that the body went on strike again in 1999 over bad working conditions and it lasted for more than four months.
A run down by StatiSense shows the number of days the union had down-tooled from 2003 till date. In 2003, students were at home for 180 days. A 2009 action saw public universities closed for 120 days. 2010-2011, 2013 and 2020 were 180, 165, and 275 days of no school respectively. The present strike action is more than 120 days already.
ASUU strike portends a bleak future
Many students have complained on end about how the action has put their dreams on hold. A search through the Twitter tag #ASUUstrike will show instances of how frustrated Nigerian students have become, and it is understandably so.
In the uncertainties created by numerous strike actions, some Nigerian students are already charting a new course of action for their lives. Has the strike then been a blessing in disguise?
Olayinka becomes shoemaker as strike continues
A young Nigerian man, Olayinka, made a post that went viral where he showed the shoe he made. People said it looks so beautiful and it can easily be mistaken for a foreign brand.
While speaking with Legit.ng, he said having to combine school work with his business was a hectic task.
“Yeah, I won't lie, it's not easy especially when you're in session but it's a bit easier when we are on holidays, even when we're in session, I do night shifts to meet up with customers demands and I work on my lecture free days too. I try all my best to balance school and my work, I don't allow anyone affects each other.”
ASUU strike: Union issues fresh queries to tertiary institutions, vows to sanction non-complying chapters
Though the young man hopes the union will call off the strike soon, he said that the holiday has given him more time to work on his craft.
ASUU strike continues, but a student sought opportunities abroad
For Chinemerem Timothy Diala, the current strike action has been an opportunity for him to seek better opportunities abroad.
The effort of the 200-level biology student eventually paid off when the schools he applied to offered him admission. Some of the universities who would like to have him were University of Colorado, University of Nebraska, Tennessee State University.
ASUU made Sam-Obisike lose a job
ASUU strike caused some pains too despite how young people have been seeking an alternative way out. The story of Sam-Obisike Chibueze Wenedah, a student of Mechatronics at the Federal University of Technology comes to mind.
In an exclusive chat with Legit.ng, the undergraduate revealed that he lost a job offer that could have been paying him N350,000 monthly because he was still in school.
In a painful revelation, Chibueze said that the offer was rescinded when they discovered that he is yet to graduate.
"I am bothered because I have been offered full-time roles by some firms. I passed the interviews but when they found out I was still a student, everything was terminated. I was supposed to have graduated by now.”
What happens whenever the strike ends?
The struggle should not only be focused on ending the strike. Such as happened in the past and it has never been a permanent fix. Before the public lecturers go back to the classroom, main issues like; better working conditions, good remunerations, and adequate allocations to education budget must be fixed. Without those, we may just be turning in circles.
ASUU rejects offer to end strike
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that there was a mild drama when the ASUU rejected Berekete Family radio’s intervention to end the ongoing strike.
On Saturday morning, June 11, the host of the radio programme, Ahmad Isah, popularly known as Ordinary president, invited ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, and his team, to explain to Nigerians the perennial problems and state why the union is still on strike.
Isah also said he had set up a special intervention bank account domiciled in TAJ Bank to raise funds for the union, with a view to ending the strike.