• Friday, April 19, 2024
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ASUU Strike: Former Nigerian students recount ordeals

ASUU strike: When will it be over? (2)

Despite attempts by the Federal Government (FG) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to reconcile and end the ongoing warning strike, the industrial action has entered its third week.

While accusations and counter-accusations over who is at fault for the lingering strike fly around, many Nigerians have voiced out against imminent negative effects of the industrial action, recounting the strike ordeals in their school days.

Friday Erhabor, a public affairs analyst and a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka frowned at the ongoing strike and its concomitant negative effects on students as he recounted with regret what he suffered in his university day as a result of the ASUU strike.

“It was because of the ASUU strike that I spent 5 years for a 4-year course. ASUU was on strike for 8 months in 1993/94. Instead of graduating in 94, I ended up graduating in 1995.

“Till today, each time I think of it, I still feel sad about it. That is why today, I have my two daughters at Redeemers University. I just do not want them to experience the same frustration I experienced.

“It is a hard decision for me economically but I prefer to go through the pain of the sacrifice to watching ASUU and the government mess up with the future of Nigerian students.

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“I was just helping my father with the farm work. What entrepreneurial drive could one pursue in the village other than farming? It was the worst traumatic moment any student could pass through. You just wake up every morning listening to the radio to hear if the strike has been called off and you do this continuously for eight months. The Nigerian government right from the military has always been insensitive and wicked, Erhabor said.

For Johnmoen Akrasi, a former student of Onabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State the ASUU strike affected him twice, 2001 and 2003.

“I was supposed to do a four-year course but I ended up spending five years. Two JAMB sets were combined in 2004 as a single admission set, you can imagine what the classroom management would look like. It was all students on their own syndrome with little or no practical lecturers’ impact to help the new students find their bearings,” Akrasi said.

Olubunmi Adeoye, a graduate of the University of Lagos disclosed to BusinessDay that she suffered a six months setback due to ASUU strike in 2012.

“It was so discouraging and frustrating; I even forgot my matric number while idling away at home. We just dropped off our books. And when we later resumed the lectures were rushed. Because of the rush to meet up with the calendar, some students ran mad, while some were on drugs to keep the pace,” she said.

Bassey Dennis, a former student of the Crossriver State University of Science and Technology (UNICRUSS) said he was just a new intake in 2011/2012 set when ASUU went on strike for six months, so he did not really feel the heat apart from the lecture rush they had on resumption.

But for Jamiu Ogunbowale, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) the 2015/2015 ASUU strike disrupted his academic calendar then which led to an unnecessary rush.

However, some students made the best use of the strike to learn some skills and/or earn some income for themselves.

David Oluwaseun, a former student of OAU, the ASUU strike affected him in 2015 and 2018, but he saw the ugly situations as a window to acquire some skills.

“During the ASUU strike, though a painful experience, I decided to learn some skills instead of sitting at home. I learned shoe making crafts, photographing, bartending, and some digital skills.

“Students should make the best use of the situation. ASUU strike can be an opportunity to learn something new,” he said.

For Akrasi, he teamed up with a friend to start a WAEC tutorial class which generated some revenue for them in 2003.

“In 2003, my friends and I from different universities approached public schools in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos State and organised tutorials on different subjects for the SSS3 students preparing for WAEC. Each student paid N20 per subject. The strike lasted for 6months,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Businessday discovered that Nigeria’s growing middle-class population who are in demand for quality university education are increasingly embracing private universities options as ASUU strikes and the government’s nonchalant attitude towards education continues to rise.

Seventy-nine private universities have received licences to operate and established between 1999 and 2020, representing an increase of over 2000 percent in the last 21 years. This is more than the combined 52 federal and state-owned universities established in the same period. This buttresses the fact that there is more demand for private universities these days.

Jegede Olorunogun, a parent disclosed that many parents and guardians are turning to private universities to purchase the much-required education for their children because the public universities system in Nigeria has failed fuelled by the insistent ASUU strikes and nonchalant attitude of the government to education in general.

“The private university system, having suffered an initial setback in the 1980s, has renewed success today because of the obvious failure of the public university system to adequately address multiple problems such as access, quality, funding, strikes, cultism, and stability of the academic calendar, which the private system has been able to overcome more effectively.

Parents and guardians with the means send their children abroad for studies. Those who are unable to afford such foreign degrees settle for local alternatives, that is, a private university as public Nigerian universities continue to rot away,” he stated.