In February, Hammad Abdulrasheed, a penultimate student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, was excited when he received an email from an organisation he had applied to for his dream job after many years of internship.
He had been invited for an interview via google meet.
However, his joy was short-lived as soon after the meeting, he remembered that the organisation could not employ him because he was still a student.
“But when I was asked where I did my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, I told them I still had a few semesters to do on campus. This response surprised the organisation because they believed I must be a graduate since it is indicated in my CV that I entered university in 2017, and this is 2022. That is five years, which is enough to finish a degree programme.
“I would have graduated but due to the incessant ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) strike, I am still in 400-Level,” Hammad said.
He continued: “I was told they would have been happy to employ me but they want to employ a worker who is ready to change his present location permanently and it is not possible to employ a student for that position. That was how I lost the opportunity which was supposed to be a life-changer.”
Babatunde Qadri, a student at the University of Ilorin, also shared with SaharaReporters how he lost a good opportunity. He was shortlisted for a fellowship to do a postgraduate course in Vietnam, all expenses paid.
He thought his statement of result would be available by April, having taken his final examination in February, a week before university lecturers embarked on strike.
“The strike did not allow me to get my credentials because anytime I contacted the students’ affairs division, their response was always that the lecturers that would even make provide my scripts were on strike.
“This made me lose this great opportunity. And for the past three months, since I took my terminal examination, I have been stagnant. We have not been mobilised for the NYSC programme and our results have not been released to allow us to look for better opportunities,” Babatunde added.
ASUU was formed in 1978, a successor to the Nigerian Association of University Teachers formed in 1965. It is the umbrella union for lecturers in federal and state universities in Nigeria.
This union has persistently embarked on strike in response to the Nigerian Government’s refusal to uphold agreements signed with it. It is to push to force the government to meet its demands but it repeatedly leaves students at the receiving end as the country lacks responsive leaders.
I Lost NNPC/Total Scholarship Due To ASUU Strike
Like Hammad and Qadri, Abdulrahman Abdulganiy’s story is no exception. Abdulrahman was fortunate to be shortlisted for the NNPC/Total Scholarship in 2020 but it was while universities were closed due to the lingering ASUU strike following its face-off with the Nigerian government.
Abdulganiy had returned to Kwara, his home state, over 700 km away from Sokoto.
He said, “I was in my state due to the strike and the examination in Sokoto, where my school is. I could not travel to Sokoto at the time.
“The story would have been different if there was no strike. At least I would be in school to take the test. It is painful that I lost the chance to receive close to N150,000 annually.”
A student of Bayero University Kano (BUK), Mustapha Babalola also blamed the incessant strike for costing him many opportunities that would have helped him in excelling in his academic and career pursuit.
“Being an undergraduate since 2017 has been one of the reasons I was not chosen for most of the opportunities I have applied for.
“We are talking about scholarships, training programmes that I would have been eligible to enjoy. My graduation is even long overdue but the strike is keeping me at home longer than expected,” Mustapha said.
Students Take Over The Streets To Seek An End The Strike
On Tuesday, hundreds of students of the University of Ilorin (Unilorin) in Kwara State, staged a peaceful protest to express their sadness and disappointment over the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The university students, however, said they would take the protest to major places in the city like the Government House, roads linking Ilorin Airport, the State House of Assembly, Federal Secretariat, police headquarters, and the Directorate of State Security Service (SSS- also known as Department of State Services, DSS), among other places, if the meeting between the lecturers’ union and the Nigerian government officials failed to resolve the lingering crisis in the country’s university educational system this week.
A similar step was taken by students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, on Thursday morning, as they blocked the Ife-Ibadan Expressway to protest against the lingering industrial action.
Nigerian Government Is The Problem’ —ASUU President
ASUU has said there is no going back on its decision to continue with its ongoing strike following the Nigerian Government’s failure to honour the 2009 agreement.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Osedeke said the union took the ‘difficult decision’ after exhausting all avenues available to amicably settle the matter with the government.
“Let me give you an example because this is where we are getting it wrong, when the airline operators said they were going to stop the flights, the Senate and House of Representatives quickly stepped in.
“This is because they are affected; they quickly rushed in and addressed the problem. Why would they not resolve that of the education sector that is affecting the children of the poor and the ordinary people?
“If the government is willing to resolve the issues affecting Nigerians, then there would be no need to go on strike.
“The problem is the will of the government to resolve issues,” he said.
Nigerian Government, ASUU Resume Negotiation
The government has scheduled a meeting with ASUU executives for Thursday. It is a meeting targeted to find a lasting solution to the 86-day-old lingering strike action by Nigerian university lecturers.
This was disclosed in a letter from the office of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which was addressed to various stakeholders on Wednesday.
According to the letter dated May 11 and signed by C.C. Dike, special adviser (technical) to the labour minister, the meeting will be held at the banquet hall in the State House at 4 pm.