Strike Stricken?

Happy Monday!

Do you see the irony in that… Happy + Monday… Wrong combo right? My mum and every worker on earth think so, I’m sure you do too. But I surge forward to the day where shouts of “Thank God its Monday” would echo on the streets of cities all around the world.
Oya, enough with the sarcasm; Monday would probably never be happy except you’re a Writer, Pastor or the son of a billionaire whose only job is to spend. Guess I’m one of the lucky few, so TGIM!!! :d

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Moving on to today’s agenda.
Many saw my BIO on twitter but few responded.
Did I just say few? they were more than few o… we have many gifted writers in this country.
As you know @dolposowo debuted last week and another fine young man is debuting right now.

Where are the Le Incredibles ?
Last week was wonderful… I say we make this week better! 😉
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Be inspired!


Strike Stricken | Damstylee_Original picture sourced from Google

Strike Stricken | Damstylee_Original picture sourced from Google

The average Nigerian public university student spends far more than the stipulated 4-5 years attaining his/her degree.

Strike, strike, strike!
Strikes are a fixture Nigeria has come to freely associate with attaining a university degree alongside books and bribes. As a matter of fact, it is very doubtful that there is a single person alive that has attained a degree in a Nigerian public university without experiencing strikes. Saying a Nigerian school is on strike is almost as commonplace as saying “NEPA don carry light.”

The current strike, organised by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and scheduled to run for 90 days, began on the 1st of July this year and is still ongoing. So far, the strike has spanned approximately two months; that is two months of missed lectures, tests, research and many other academic pursuits for our students. This waste of time and resources is by no means harmless, it cannot just be made up and/or forgotten about.

Now the ASUU is on strike because it and the federal government are at loggerheads over some of the same issues that keep cropping up year after year. The ASUU’s justification for this year’s strike is the federal government’s failure to adhere to the terms of an agreement reached between them in 2009. Despite pleas and demands from various government officials that lecturers should return to their classrooms, the ASUU pledges not to budge until its requirements are met. In 2011 the ASUU called a total and indefinite strike over the exact same issue currently in debate. Strike actions in 2009 led to the negotiations that brought about the agreement in the first place.

I venture no opinion on whether or not the ASUU is within their right to keep striking or whether or not the federal government is indeed breaching their agreement. What I am saying is that over six months worth of academic progress has been lost since 2009 over the same, seemingly unresolvable problem. Will it ever end?

Who suffers the consequences of this lost time?

The answer to that question is, of course, The Students. The repercussions of a strike to the average ASUU member is a few weeks break from work and, worst case scenario, some lost wages. To any member of the federal government, the repercussions of a strike go no further than slight public embarrassment at their failure to provide necessary educational infrastructure. Our government officials are pretty thick-skinned, most even accustomed to embarrassment and reproach. Unfortunately, however, the repercussions of each strike to the average Nigerian student are more severe than perhaps the ASUU or the federal government would like us to believe. A student who gains admission to a public university at age 20 will spend about 4 years attaining his/her diploma, 2 extra waiting on the conclusion of various strikes and 1 year serving with the NYSC. At 27, he/she will enter the work force only to be told that the maximum age for graduating applicants at most prestigious places of employment is 25. What a joke, right?

The average student tends to have a very active mind that requires constant occupation and the idleness of sitting at home during a strike can be very damaging. No poles have been conducted, no official records taken but I think it is safe to assume that rates of petty crime, drug abuse and even unplanned pregnancy rise during every prolonged strike. It is as simple as the youths have nothing better to do.

It is as though Nigeria systematically encourages it’s bright young minds to go and seek education elsewhere. Different countries around the world; from Turkey to China to Canada and even as close to home as Ghana, now offer educational packages that are more enticing that Nigerian public universities. It should technically be cheaper and more convenient to attend school in your own country but when one factors in the risk of strikes and the necessity for bribes in Nigerian public schools, the logical options are the more expensive private schools or schools abroad.

My younger brother graduated secondary school this year and applied for admission at the esteemed Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. His O’ Levels and JAMB result are above average and by all means he should now be facing the trials of course registration in a university. Instead, he sits idly at home for weeks because ABU’s entrance exams having been postponed. He awaits the conclusion of one indefinite strike that will probably only give rise to another indefinite strike. On the recommendation of friends, I decided to explore other options and happened upon a pleasant little university in North Cyprus offering half scholarships and various other incentives to emigrating Nigerians. In less than a week my brother’s acceptance letter had arrived in my mail and I was being encouraged to begin school fees payment and registration. Needless to say, my brother is not attending Ahmadu Bello University anymore.

Many foreign countries have come to recognise the weaknesses in the Nigerian educational system and endeavour to draw out our youths with various enticing offers. When presented with the prospect of an unnecessarily elongated degree hunt in Nigeria due to unpredictable strike patterns, many of our students would choose and do choose to go abroad. We flee our nation to lend our intellect and resourcefulness to another man’s land. A Nigerian student studies abroad and earns his/her degree in 4 years flat while another struggles in Nigeria faced with strike after strike. I suppose I cannot speak for anyone else but, given the options, I know what I would do.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to witness some well organised affirmative action from our students to counter the ASUU’s never ending urge to strike? Youth is a powerful force that is constantly undermined in Nigeria because of our deference to the elderly. Imagine a mass gathering of all currently grounded students in poignant protest against the strike; bank activity brought to a halt, communications companies silenced, even federal and state roads brought to a stand still.

The resulting chaos would be glorious and would surely force some sort of a resolution between the federal government and the ASUU. The youths must have a say in this matter, after all they are the ones most affected by it. A lack of action only shows that we have come to accept this way of life, resigned ourselves to a black fate.

To say “only God can help us” is nothing but foolishness.

Michael Sontee
Ff @Stuck_InNaija on twitter


Thanks for reading.
Do drop a comment or your views below, it will be really appreciated.

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4 thoughts on “Strike Stricken?

  1. Aw. It must hurt, mustn’t it, being a student? Being a graduate is not bliss either.

    That said, the strike time is a great for regrouping (doing a recon, if you will) and making something of your life – something that transcends the piece of paper you are working hard to acquire.

    Amazingly, my current profession has nothing to do with what I spent five years studying. I had my “Eureka” moment during a three-month strike in 200L. At the time, it was just something to do while waiting for ASUU and FG to resolve their palaver.

    And now- voila. It’s my full-time profession.

    So – cheers, I guess.


  2. I have to say this is one of my most engaging pieces…..I am glad dis came out of one of d youths in this nation…..tank u michael….d suggestion abt d youths comin together to bring this to a stop is great buh we need an initiation……we need to rise up and we need to do it fast and now…..tanx again


  3. ” A student who gains admission to a public university at age 20 will spend about 4 years attaining his/her diploma, 2 extra waiting on the conclusion of various strikes and 1 year serving with the NYSC. At 27, he/she will enter the work force only to be told that the maximum age for graduating applicants at most prestigious places of employment is 25. What a joke, right?”
    That is the part that gets me the most. That so many jobs require you to be a max of 25. If Gov’t had even an inkling of the situation they’d caused, they would outlaw places of employment putting such caps on age


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