The ongoing one week warning strike by the Non Academic Staff of the Nigerian Universities under the auspices of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) has thrown pebbles into our stream of educational complacency. The school activities are disrupted, regardless of how slight the disruption might be; school gates are locked; the taxi-cab drivers are stopped from their works and the major roads in the school are blocked while the aggrieved non-teaching staff express their grievances to the Federal Government on their refusal to attend to their demands which include the payment of their earned allowances, matters concerning the university staff schools, and the renegotiation of the 2019 agreement with their union.

Since they believe that embarking on strike is the only language the government understands and the only strategy they can use to press home their demands, the Union has taken the painful step of embarking on a warning strike as they believe it will shame the government into listening to their cries.

It should be noted also that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had followed the same pattern as they embarked on a one-week warning strike in 2016 before their three months total strike began in November 4, 2018. This only further reflects the fact that strike has been eating deep into the edifice of Nigerian Universities since a very long time, and the government has been the major player in this institutional deterioration. Government-owned universities have only helped students in elongating their stays on campus, thus bringing inconvenience to their studies. For these reasons, many students have found solace in the private universities as they are certain of graduating at the set date and find a very peaceful environment to study.

The failure of the government to reshape and redefine our educational sector has been a major challenge to the smooth running of the academic calendar. Unlike Ghana that allocates about 20% to their educational sector, the Nigerian government is still allocating 7% to education as against the recommended 15-20% by the United Nations. Sadly, this has been a major misfortune sticking the sector onto the precarious cliff of declination. This has in fact been one major reason why many Nigerian students have become circumstantial proponents of the controversial mantra that ‘school na scam’. It is thus a pain in the ass that Nigerians have lost faith in almost everything about the country. And this is why we might keep on losing our best brains to other countries with better enabling environment.

Beyond the physical lockdown of gates or the disruption of academic activities, one insidiously harmful effect of strike in the academic community is the psychological risks that the students bear. The minds of most students become caked up with confusion, distorted focus and uncertainty of decision. Whether or not classes would hold becomes a subject of doubt, and this could pose a debilitating disturbance to the personal daily schedule of many a student. This is often the case when, at times during industrial actions by the non-academic staff, some lecture rooms might be open while some others would be under locks; then a student gets to his/her faculty only to realise that the particular lecture room s/he’s headed to is locked. Then other students of that particular course trickle in one by one only to also be faced with the confusion of whether or not the class would still be held— thus, time and energy become wasted.

For the successful management of any institution, the hurdles lie with both the academic and the non-academic staff of the institution; every “body” has their roles to play in taking the institution to the acme of greatness. One body cannot live peacefully without others as they are like the human bodies— if one part gets injured, it affects the others. Since the strike has begun, there has been incessant power outage, and the porters who are to secure the hostels are nowhere to be found, which means there is no one to checkmate those who are coming in and out of the hostels. In recent times, the University has witnessed several robbery attacks which has made the school management to announce that they would begin scrutinizing illegal occupants in order to prevent further attacks, but with the ongoing strike, one may conclude that another robbery could easily occur again. Even the supposed prevention of squatting in the halls now inevitably becomes ineffective.

Also, the stoppage of vehicles from moving in and out of the campus from the main gate has made everyone, both lecturers and students, to trek to their destinations. And this, apparently, could only cause many students living off campus to get to their classes late.

The strike has made the academic staff’s works doubled as they are made to open the doors of each classroom, and the locked General Office of every department would also hinder the students not to have access to the principal officers of the department. Thus, there would be little or no means for students to lodge their complaints.

As Mattie Stepanek, a famous American poet would preach that “unity is strength …when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved”, it is when every stakeholder of the institution work hand-in-hand that the students can study in a very conducive environment and the academic calendar can run smoothly without any doubt of whether classes would hold or not. The effects of the strike are on everyone, be it the students and the staff.

So, it is high time the federal government looked into the matter, proffered a lasting solution and increased the very low financial budget allocated to education. Workers should be loved; government should give them a happy life, like an anonymous quote puts it, “if to love each other is the job, then the happy life is the salary”. The federal government should revisit the agreements made to the body and should act on them as soon as possible so that the union will not resort to indefinite strike. This is especially because whatever affects activities within the institution of learning automatically affects the students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *