Prolonged ASUU Strike: A Ticking Time Bomb

Prolonged ASUU Strike: A Ticking Time Bomb

Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is on its 16th strike action since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, shutting down academic activities in public universities for more than four years within 23 years, a duration that is sufficient to complete a four-year degree programme.

In 2020, ASUU went on a 9-month strike, which accounts for the longest since 1999, and about two years later, on February 14, went on a 4-week warning strike before it declared another eight weeks saying that it was giving “the government more time to attend to its need”.

Upon the expiration, it announced an additional eight weeks. The union has now announced a 12-week roll-over strike action, with effect from Monday, May 9.

These constant disruptions of academic activities in the country’s public universities come with serious impacts on the students, many of whom have been expressing their frustration on the painful inability of the Federal Government and the ASUU to resolve their crises.

It is usually difficult for undergraduates in Nigerian public universities under the ASUU to graduate within the four, five or six years they are originally supposed to spend for their courses due to these disruptions in academic activities, leading to constant review of the academic calendars. Sometimes, a student studying for a four-year degree programme spends up to five or more years to graduate.

Many students have complained that while universities are on strike, they mostly remain bored and idle at home, while waiting for schools to reopen. Such boredom and idleness can sometimes lead to mental health challenges which include depression, anxiety among others.

Idling students could also succumb to the vulnerability of youthful exuberance to venture into social vices, given the idle time.

With the constant strikes, some students have resorted to looking for opportunities to earn stipends. This situation makes education less interesting and sets them in a tight corner whenever classes may resume from the industrial action.

Usually, when the strike is called off, the management of various universities resort to crash programmes to enable students to quickly cover the remaining academic workload. This has therefore, in many ways affected the students’ chances of learning well and without the stress of having to quickly prepare for continuous assessment tests and examinations.

A great threat to the country’s fragile stability may emanate from when the students are allowed to remain at home in the days running into the 2023 general elections. The fear coming from this situation would be that most of them, aside being disenfranchised from voting, since they may have had their registration and voting points in their schools, may accede to the allure of political actors who may want to use them to manipulate the election process in their favour.

Recently, the students’ body, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, disclosed in a statement titled: “End ASUU strike or forget political activities in Abuja”, signed by its President, Sunday Asefon.
NANS said no primaries would take place until the Federal Government ended ASUU’s strike.
“Let me say without mincing words, the two major political parties should forget any political gathering in Abuja except there is a solution to the lingering ASUU strike.

“We will frustrate all the activities leading to the selection of party candidates if we remain on strike. We also want to advise the government and the politicians who are busy campaigning to be President to either resolve the ASUU crises or give direct orders to the security operative to shoot us on sight during party conventions to select a presidential candidate. If we remain on strike, they should just forget it”.
Recall that, the Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, had called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to urgently address the ongoing strike describing it as a ticking time bomb.

“The universities are shut down as a result of the ASUU strike. We plead and plead that God will help us to resolve this issue. I don’t feel comfortable that the students are at home and whatever it takes, all hands must be on deck to ensure that they go back to school”, she said.

We urge the FG not take lightly the recent threat by NANS to disrupt the forthcoming parties’ primaries in Abuja, which may also be another time bomb waiting to implode and is likely to compound the already tense security conditions plaguing the country, which seems to have defied all solutions.

AljazirahNigeria joins in the call on the Federal government, ASUU and all relevant stakeholders to rise to the need of the moment so as to nip the imminent implosion in the bud. It would be a sad experience to witness a replica of the 2020 EndSARS if the threats of the students’ body come to fruition.

We join these echoes for the universities to re-open as it will set a tone of tranquility for our polity already bedeviled by various distractions.

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