In a year that has belonged to the coronavirus, pockets of police brutality protests and new anxieties from Nigeria’s economic recession, the ASUU strike happening isn’t strange given how frequent it has occurred. The Academic Staff Union of Universities has been at loggerheads with the government for years, over unpaid wages, poor funding of universities, and also to honour the memorandum of agreement signed between the union and the government in 2009.
Its latest union action in 2020 is a huge indication of how the educational system continues to fail young Nigerians who have been home since eighth months and thus disrupting academic calendars. Although the government recently offered N65b to address some of ASUU’s demands, the strike still lingers with no reach for resolution in sight.
In this piece, Nigerian students discuss their views on the strike, how they have been coping in the the past months and how university education can be better.
Annie, 20, University of Lagos
‘Funnily enough I was relieved a little when the strike started. It was a break from academic work but after spending a month at home doing nothing, I wanted to go back to school. I’m studying political science but I was also making some profit off cooking meals and selling them to my schoolmates. So I saved up some money and went to a culinary school and now it has becomes a business which I run on Instagram, people make orders for different dishes and I deliver to them. This is how I made myself useful during the strike but it will be great if the government and ASUU reach an agreement for the sake of our education.
Uduak, 24, University of Ibadan
The ASUU Strike really affected me negatively because I have been out of school for like nine months and I have been stuck on one level for two years. But positively, I have had time to think and reflect about my life, what I want for myself. I was able to start a business and work part time in a radio station, which has been educating and fun. I still want to finish my degree as a microbiologist though.
Olamide, 20, Obafemi Awolowo University
Before the strike I was running a hair extension business in school but during the strike, I was able to focus more on the brand and I even made more money than before. This sounds strange but I’m too eager to return to the school. The only thing I miss are my friends and we talk sometimes via video calling and when one of them talks about school, I remember again that I’m studying business administration.
Famous, 24, University of Nigeria
I’m a rapper, so of course this side of me still has to continue, strike or not. But I think it’s insensitive that the government hasn’t resolved the strike with ASUU all this time. I’m in my final year (Banking and Finance) and I just want to graduate so that I can move on with my life. I have written a couple of songs, made a demo and I’m trying to enter for this music competition on radio. Music is what that has been keeping me sane and I thank God for that.
Peju, 24, University of Ilorin
Where do I start from? After writing JAMB three times to study pharmacy and facing ASUU strike, which has seriously disrupted my education. If I was schooling in a private university, I would have finished by now. I haven’t been doing anything at home, too scared to go out because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it hasn’t been an entire waste because I have been learning make up on YouTube and it has exposed me to a lot to knowledge and technique. This month, I will do the make up for my friend for her birthday, just to put myself out there and see reactions to it. It’s making me nervous but asking if I still want to go back to school? Of course, let me get this education and be free.