Every Nigerian student has this enthusiasm and anticipation that fills his/her emotions the moment he/she gains admission into the university. The student automatically calculates the expected successful years he/she is meant to spend in school and the next phase to pursue in life after school years.
“Yes, yes, yeaaaahhh”, Uju danced and jubilated on receiving her admission letter into university for the year 2016/2017 academic session. “I will be a graduate by 2020, finish my NYSC by 2021, become a full graduate and hopefully secure a nice paying job”, she anticipated.
ASUU is the mini-god of universities
Hardly did she know that ASUU is the mini-god of universities, and has its own plans and final decisions on how soon a student graduates from most government owned universities in Nigeria, as it embarks on a strike every four years or so. It’s like a pandemic that must strike and one must surely encounter it – either it affects one in the beginning of one’s academic years or it hits at the end. Some unfortunate students with five or six academic years meet it twice before graduation, making them stay in school for up to 7 to 9 years before graduation. For those with missing exam scripts, carry-overs or extra years, it’s a different story entirely.
ASUU stands for the “Academic Staff Union of Universities” in Nigeria and was founded in 1978. ASUU strike issues are the (non)payment of earned academic allowances, revitalization of the university system, setting up visitation panels to universities, etc.
Nigeria, my country, which way?
This year (2020) again, the ASUU strike hit very hard when it started in March following its dispute with the Federal Government over their insistence on the implementation of the IPPIS for the payment of University lecturers’ salaries and allowances, against ASUU’s own developed payment platforms. To date, the strike has been on with yet no valid response or plan for when Universities will resume for students to go back.
IPPIS is the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, a centralised payroll platform by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Uju was devastated that her initial plans were now shattered as she lamented on her Facebook page, “September 2019 I became a final year student, September 2020 I’m still in my final year. 2021 I’ll still be in my final year. Nigeria, my country, which way?”
But two months later in November, she made another post, “I was among those who thought that 2020 was a waste for me but all thanks to ASUU, now I’m a proud baker”. This implied that she had made good use of her time by learning how to bake and didn’t allow the situation to affect her year too badly.
So, even though she’s yet to become a graduate, Uju has acquired a skill that she’s happy with, as it’ll serve her all through life. Because when she finally graduates and is waiting and searching for a white-collar job, she will be able to make money from her newly acquired skill and probably save enough to set up a big bakery for herself, become an entrepreneur and create jobs for other people.
Postscript: This blog post was written in early December 2020. ASUU suspended their strike on 23rd December and it is expected that Universities will resume in January 2021.
Thanks to the writer who asked to remain anonymous.
Image shows the ASUU logo with a pen writing in the pages of a book and the words: Academic Staff Union of Universities; Knowledge, Truth, Service. Image credit: https://twitter.com/ASUUNGR/