As the face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) rages on, students have called on both parties to resolve all issues, report ELIZABETH FADEYI and TUNDE ADEBAYO (IBADANPOLY).
The Federal Government directed tertiary institutions to resume on October 12, after the long COVID-19 lockdown, which began in March.
But federal institutions could not resume because of the ASUU strike which began on March 9.
It was gathered that ASUU made efforts for government to intervene on the five major issues presented to the Federal Government — renegotiation, earned academic allowances, visitation panels to universities, revitalisation of infrastructure and proliferation of universities.
The strike further intensified following the union’s grouse about the government’s insistence on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of lecturers’ salaries and allowances. ASUU developed a homegrown payment platform, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which it believed guarantees the autonomy of the university.
However, the union has not called off the strike because it is waiting for the government to conduct an integrity test on UTAS.
ASUU President Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the government needed to give approval to the National Information Technology Development Agency to conduct integrity test on UTAS.
Nevertheless, students want both parties to negotiate and expedite action for them to resume after the long break.
Sunday Timileyin, a Communication Arts final year student of the University of Ibadan, wants the government and ASUU to conclude negotiations soon for the sake of students.
“The Federal Government and ASUU should reach an agreement for the sake of students. They are delaying us. They are wasting our time. They should reach a conclusion and settle things,” he said.
In the same vein, Ibrahim Mustapha, a Law student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), said he was tired of staying at home, calling on the parties to ensure a quick resolution.
He said: “Both parties should conclude and allow schools to resume. I am particularly tired of staying at home. Plans have been disrupted by their nonchalant attitude. They should let us resume, I am begging them. There is no more time left.”
An Electrical Engineering student of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Olajumoke Moses, wants government to do the needful and fulfill the agreements reached with striking lecturers.
She said: “I have always known that the educational system we have in Nigeria is bad. Those in charge should therefore set things right. I am particularly tired of the strike.”
Eniola Deborah, a Biochemistry student at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), said:
” I am begging the Federal Government as well as ASUU to please end the strike. After all these months, they still haven’t reached a conclusion. We don’t have all the time in the world. They should please do something. Imagine sitting at home while other students have resumed.”
Zaynab Ahmad of Ado Bayero University, who studies Mass Communication, blamed government for failing to fulfill the promises made to lecturers.
“The government takes the blame because of its continuous failed promises to the lecturers. The unfulfilled promises started from 2006. We are in 2020, still, nothing has been done.
“The lecturers also have their own faults. The strike is at the detriment of students. It does not impact the government in any way. The children of most government officials are studying abroad or in private universities,” she said.
Olanrewaju Olamilekan, a student of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), while berating the government for the incessant strikes, said: “I can’t say the fault is completely on the part of the lecturers because negotiation is key. The government is not exactly doing what it ought to do. The government is grossly at fault, it has refused to meet the demands of ASUU.”
For Philip Mercy, another student of Ekiti State University, those at the helm of affairs are nonchalant, noting that it was puzzling that ASUU would still be on strike even in these trying times.
Akinyemi Busola, a student of the Federal University of Technology (FUTMINNA), complained about the disruption in the academic calendar thus: “Over six months of staying at home, yet no hope for resumption. I think a lasting solution should be found. A course that takes four years will be prolonged because of the strike.”
Ojulari Mofehintola, a Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, noted that students preferred private universities to public ones because strike has become the hallmark of public universities.
She said: “While our counterparts are already resuming or planning to resume, we are still at home awaiting the decision of the Federal Government and ASUU. A lasting solution should be brought and the issue of strike ought to be a thing of the past now.”
Davies Grace, a student of Ekiti State University, said: ” We are in a country where the government doesn’t really pay or give much attention to the educational sector. They would prefer to send their wards outside the country to be educated or better still some well known private universities because they know how bad the education sector has become. I think it’s high time Nigerian government stopped paying lip service to education.”
Boluji Olamide, a student of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), said the strike had caused an increase in social vices.
” Pregnancy rate as well as abortion rate among students have increased significantly. Many male students still on campus are seen mingling with the opposite sex as this period of no academic activities has made it possible for them to indulge in lust,” she said.
For Sulaimon Noimot, a student of FUTMINNA, the industrial action has really affected her such that she has lost the zeal for academics.
She said: “I no longer have the zeal to read again, because I don’t even know when the strike will be over. The government should please help students and meet the demands of ASUU.”
Makinde Kikelomo, a Biochemistry student of FUTA, wants ASUU to devise another means of expressing it grievances to government rather than resorting to unending industrial action.
“My course of four years is already turning to five years if the strike doesn’t stop. I think ASUU should improve and think of a better idea on how to negotiate things with the government for what ever they need without affecting the students through incessant strikes,” she said.
Akinpelu Boluwatife, a Medicine and Surgery student of University of Ibadan while decrying the strike said:
“This is a total waste of time. Can ASUU ever avoid going on strike? They are delaying those who want to graduate. Lots of academic activities have been missed due to the nonchalant attitude of the union. Projects are left unaccomplished thanks to them.”
Bukunmi Omololu, a Mass Communication student of UNILAG, decried the ‘insensitivity’ of ASUU, saying prolonging the strike wouldn’t bode well for students.
“If the interest of students is paramount to the union, it would never have allowed this strike to be prolonged. If lecturers are fighting for their right , it should be done in a way that won’t affect students. We have been at home for many months. The lecturers should be considerate enough to know that they are delaying us while they think they are fighting for what is theirs,” she said.
Pamilerin Mary, a student of Ekiti State University, said: ” By now we ought to have finished a semester but I am at home doing nothing. Only God knows when school will resume . Both parties should be considerate enough and remember that they are toying with our future. They should allow us to resume back to school quickly, enough of the delay.”
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