By Elizabeth Ogunwale
Sometimes it is the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. This is not to say that the biggest doesn’t but that the smallest decisions which you had no high hopes for could turn tables around. In recent time, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has gained both popularity and notoriety in our public space, especially in the educational sphere.
Noteworthy is its every day or say, every week closed door meetings with the government, to draw up conclusions on their demands – long term demands – but to no avail. This sole decision made by the ASUU without the involvement of students have led to the age-long stay- at- home of students which seems like it would not be ending soon. The disagreement between the government and ASUU since March 23 has put students at a dead end.
The major issue that triggered the ASUU strike early was largely dependent on the introduction of the new payment system for all government employees which was met with negative response by the ASUU. The Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), a centralised payroll platform designed by the Federal government to manage its payroll budget directly and supposedly curb ghost workers.
However, reasoning with ASUU, the core reason for the long-term strike also borders on other issues which include revitalisation, improvement in the quality of infrastructure, funding of universities and regulation of payments of salaries, among others. The only way out of this grid is to strike a balance for the above issues which have kept students and lecturers alike at home.
Lecturers, as we can testify to, during this strike live a miserable life unless they have an alternative, while students due to the idleness, have engaged themselves in illicit, illegal and mundane activities which have had a negative impact on the country.
The sole decision made by ASUU has caused us, the students, to restructure our plans this year. It has also altered the number of years to be used in the university. Though year one students can still opt out, write UTME and pick a private university to start from scratch but the reverse is the case for most of us in our third or last year as this will be hard for us.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has unanimously resolved to organise a nationwide mass protest to drive home its demands on the immediate re-opening of all universities across the country. On his part, the President, University of Ilorin Students union, Wisdom Okoko said : “ASUU strike is killing us. The Federal Government and ASUU are putting their interests forward. Nobody is putting the interest of students as a priority. ”
In sum, let’s bring back to our focus that, without students, there will be no lecturing job. However , ASUU is forgetting something – that students should be fought for. Whether they reach a resolution with government or not, one thing the union needs to remember is that ” you’ve to know when to strike and when to retreat”.
- Ogunwale is a 300-Level Law student of University of Lagos (UNILAG).