University education in Nigerian appears to have been thrown into fresh rounds of turmoil, as the non-teaching staff unions of Nigerian universities last Monday declared the resumption of its recently suspended indefinite strike action in public universities.
Academic activities have been crippled on campuses across the country as the leadership of the aggrieved workers have ensured a high level of compliance with the industrial action.
Recall that three unions, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) had all come under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC) to direct all their branches nationwide to resume strike from Monday December 3, 2017.
The strike, according to the union, had become necessary due to the failure of the Federal Government to clarify the criteria for the disbursement of the N23 billion it had earlier released to the university unions, which include both academic and non-academic staff unions.
The lion share of about N15.10 billion was said to have been allocated to the teaching staff union (ASUU), while only a paltry sum of N7.929 billion was allocated to the non-teaching staff unions made up of SSANU, NAAT and NASU.
The industrial action is coming barely one week after members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) suspended their strike, and barely two months after the Academic Staff Union of Universities called off theirs.
Disturbed by the development, parents, lecturers and professionals have called for caution as the series of disruptions is making nonsense of the academic calendar and also affecting the students’ ability to concentrate.
Speaking with New Telegraph on the issue, a lecturer with the University of Lagos, Mr. Modiu Olaguro, said the impact of the strike had been total, as it has stifled operations at the university.
He said: “The strike is total here. With the exception of security personnel, who are not usually allowed to participate in such strikes, all offices are currently under lock. There seems to have been an effective mobilisation of the members of the striking unions as nothing is currently happening on campus. All activities have been placed on hold.”
Asked to rate the level of compliance with the strike so far on a scale of 1-10, Mr. Modiu placed his rating at nine.
Also reacting to the matter, a student of the University of Ibadan, Temitope Omotan, described the impact of the strike as far-reaching.
He said: “The strike has come at a time when students were beginning to heave a sigh of relief that academic activities are beginning to swing into full gear. This is not good for our educational system.”
On his part, a senior lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Mr. Cami Ezenwa, lamented the incessant industrial actions in the country and its far-reaching consequences on students, the academic environment and the society at large.
He said: “Strike is an ill will that does no one any good.
That is the truth. It is destructive on both sides. It has negative repercussion on the student first, then the academic environment, let alone the nation. On one hand, the students would have lost lots of grounds whether you like it or not. If they have 15 weeks, by the time strike takes five weeks out of the 15 weeks, you only have 10 weeks.
The implication is that the lecturers will start stampeding the students. Whether you like it or not, the consequence is that you are going to graduate incompetent students; who may have the certificate but may not be able to deliver on the job the way it is required of them.
“Also, you are giving a negative impression to the people. If there is constant strike in any economy, it has implication on who is in power. It shows that you are not doing your job well. The impression is that if you are doing your job well, you should be able to negotiate yourself out of such a strike. Sometimes, when a minister experiences that kind of situation it puts his job on the line because it means you cannot negotiate, you cannot represent the government well.
“On a national scale, you and I know the implications on the society when you churn out students who don’t have the requisite capability despite attending institutions of higher learning.”
Also bemoaning the consequences of the strike on students, Barr. Peace Udoh said: “With the ongoing strike, no doubt, the student is the worst hit. How else does he grapple with the fact that the non-implementation of the decision between the staff union and the Federal Government is ultimately borne by him?
“He is at the centre of it all. His learning comes to a halt; time and resources are not properly utilized or totally wasted as the case may be, as forces beyond his control become the determining factor to forge ahead with academic plans, aspirations and pursuit.
“The nation also bears the brunt of the unrest that ensues. Parents/sponsors’ investment in the student may not be expected to yield as and when due. The economy also suffers and loses the percentage contribution that should emanate from the age bracket of that section of youths. Generally, his contribution to nation building and development may not be recognized, and so much more.This is the bane of industrial strikes in our educational polity.
However, a geologist, Ozor Nduka Jeremiah, who couldn’t conceal his disappointment over the issue of endless industrial actions in the country, which had become a culture for workers to abscond their duty posts just to register their grievances against the government, blamed the situation on irresponsible stakeholders in the educational sector who had misplaced priority.
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