Following the suspension of 99days strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the 7th of February 2019, Nigerians, especially youths have taken to social media to voice their displeasure to the state of education of the country. While many students long to get back to campus, the circumstances surrounding the suspension of the strike seemed to have eroded the excitement of going back to school.
Surprisingly, there is some sort of unanimity in the trend of opinions shared on social media as many people think the suspension is strictly for political reasons and no part of the negotiation prioritizes the interest of the students.
With the National election coming up on the 16th of February, 2019, a school of thought thinks that the suspension is political considering that about 22 million students’ votes will be lost if at the time of election, they are not on campus – which is their voting centers. This leaves many questions unanswered. To the political class, maybe the life of the Nigerian youth is not any more important than the usefulness of their thumbs.
As it stands, ASUU has signed a Memorandum of Action (MoA) on the condition that the government pays outstanding arrears and releases a sum of N25 billion (in April/May 2019) in addition to the N20 billion paid in 2018 after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.
Going by the breach of agreement demonstrated by the government in the past, this implies that the probability of the government honouring this MoA is largely dependent on the outcome of the February 16th 2019 national election.
However, despite ASUU founding its claim on the theme of revitalization of public universities, many students do not share this sentiment as some school of thought even suggested that the management of ASUU be audited for the N200 billion naira received from the Goodluck Jonathan administration. To say the fact, despite ASUU’s regular strike action, the Nigerian university system is still in a deplorable state. Across boards, students’ campus accommodation facilities keeps deteriorating; laboratories are still underequipped; class conditions still inconducive for learning, libraries remain dysfunctional and have been reduced to mere reading rooms. For this reasons, it is understandable that students who are meant to be the beneficiary of ASUU’s struggle now perceive the strike as a time-wasting occurrence that keeps them in school longer than necessary.
In an opinion poll conducted on the subject matter, Hannah Olaniran, a postgraduate student of the University of Ibadan stated “The completion of my second degree is being delayed and I suspect that the strike suspension is a selfish strategy on the path of the government with respect to the upcoming election”. Sulaimon Agbaogun, a postgraduate student of the same institution shares Hannah’s thought. He took the comical approach when he said “It’s a four plus four strategy”.
Therefore, with students (youths) distrustful of the government and unsure of the transparency of their lecturers’ struggle, they find themselves at the receiving end of the decisions of both parties. For obvious reasons, all that seems to matter to them is the attainment of their respective degrees; and that’s quite understandable.
Oluwamuyiwa Ogunjobi writes from Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
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Alli Sheriffdeen Abiola
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Opinion contained in this article is strictly the writer’s and not Aledeh’s.