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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just My 2 Kobo: Looking Beyond The ASUU Strike

A while ago, the ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) Chairman, said in an interview that students didn't want them to call off the strike. In his words “Our students have come out to say they don't want us to call off the strike until the Federal Government answers us, because they don't want us to call off now and later we go back to strike again. So, we are heeding the advice of our students”. 

I wasn't present when the student conferred this message to him, so I have no clue if it is true or not. But one thing I know for sure is that the students just want to get done with school and be sure its over. I was a student once, I was lucky enough to experience a serious strike just once in my final year (2009) for three months. All I thought of after the first month of being happy to be away from school was, 'can ASUU call off the strike already so I can make it to law school in October', well I got to go to law school in April 2010.

The statement got me thinking about the whole strike, were the striking lecturers any different from the government they were striking against, were they even considerate of the feelings of the students who they had left sitting at home for months. I was listening to a programme called 'If Wishes Were Horses' while driving home a while back, the wish of more than half of the people that texted or called in was that ASUU should call the strike off, they complained that they were tired of sitting down at home doing nothing. Students begging to go back to school, now that’s a first!!! I really can't reconcile the reaction on this programme with the statement made by the ASUU chairman.

I am not going to go into the details of the strike or the politics surrounding it, I just want to look at our striking lecturers and see if they really have the interests of their students at heart or just the interest of their pockets. I remember numerous stories in school of female students who were failed repeatedly because they refused to sleep with the male lecturers. Stories of students who felt terrible after having to sleep with their lecturers just to pass, some of them go ahead to loose their sense of self worth. Stories of students who had to pay to get the pass that they ordinarily were entitled after working hard for it. Stories of students whose hard work were thrown into the dustbin, because the lecturer had to balance his sheet out, he would change marks of deserving students to lower grades to ensure he gave higher grades to the students he had slept with or collected money from. Stories of lecturers failing their students because they did not buy their hand outs. There are numerous stories of the atrocities of these lecturers, acts that left their students and ex-students lacking in both confidence and knowledge required to compete outside the four walls of the university.

The government not sticking to its part of the agreement is inexcusable, but the reports show that House of Assembly is willing to sign a supplementary budget if that would end the strike. I think they should try to come to a compromise with the government, that’s the essence of living in a civilised society, we should be willing to meet the other person half way. If really the lectures were interested in moving our education sector forward, they would be more interested in cleaning up the sector first from the inside, they would think about the students whose lives they destroy every day with their actions. Its probably because they know they students can't decide to strike against them that they keep on perpetrating these evil deeds.

The strike gets you thinking about the reason why we do what we do, for the love of it or just for the financial gains attached to it. For a position as serious as moulding the minds a nation, shouldn't it be a little more than the financial benefits. Nobody is saying the teachers should teach just for the love of it, but if they really loved what they have been opportuned to to be doing, they should be willing to come to a compromise with the government, not necessarily because of the government, but because of the minds they have been gifted with moulding. The minds they are moulding today are the minds of our future leaders, if they do their jobs right, the strikes would be a thing of the past, because when these minds get into power, they remember what they have been taught. But this strike only shows that a lot of our teachers went into teaching because all other career paths failed, not for the love of it. There are very few like my late Jurisprudence lecturer, Professor Oye Cukwurah, who I think went into teaching for the love of it.

The members of ASUU should be very aware that the patience of the general public is gradually wearing thin, if this strike drags on for too long they would loose the support of the general public, which they have had from the beginning.

But then again, what do I know; I just think the change we want to see in the educational sector should come from both the government and the lecturers, all the billions in the world would not change the education sector if the lecturers remain dirty.


Anonymous said...

I share most of your thoughts in this piece. But let me point that if NANS is worth its salt it can galvanise and mobilise students to drastically reduce if not end the evils students receive from these lecturers as you rightly mentioned. The way forward on the strike is compromise on the part of Asuu.
Jeremiah O. Sunday

uchenna Ezeonyeka said...

very well said/

Anonymous said...

You just said my mind on this issue. I believe that the student should match to the national assembly and make a case for themselves if not Asuu may never end this particular strike. This is because once more Nigerian are made to believe that this fight is for the mass while it is far from the true picture of things. Some of these students will suffer from many set backs such as, begin above age of service-29 maximum, also many employer of labour want younger fresh graduates who are between the ages of 21-26 many student will be above these age at the rate which Asuu is going. No one will hand your right over to you if you only sit back and wish you could have it. Prayer without work is dead. We have prayed, now is time for the Nigerian student to act on her right. Remember your parents get to pay more bills by your continued stay at home.

Anonymous said...

Comment by Amaka Agbo-Anike

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