UI Students, Strike Actions, and the Jarring Realities


This time last year, the students of the University of Ibadan, like their counterparts in other affected Nigerian universities, were waiting in bated breath for when the tussle between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the consequent strike action by the latter would come to a halt. Eventually, ASUU called off the eight-month strike on October 14, 2022, after what could be regarded as a partial response to their demands by the then-incumbent federal government under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari.

Despite that this was what many students had hoped during the previous months, the resumption was met with laments and complaints from many UI students. This was, however, not to show that they were satisfied with the strike, but to indicate, if viewed objectively, that students are the proverbial grass that bears the brunt of the battle between two warring elephants. A statement that was significantly echoed by the student populace then was that they had moved on and it was unfair that they would have to discard that life they had been forced to build during the strike and resume academic activities again as though nothing happened. It was particularly harder on UItes as the school had barely begun the session fully.

Hardly a year later, the exact same demands that triggered the strike are still being raised by ASUU. In a statement released last month, August, by the ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Sodeke, many concerns were raised regarding the demands of ASUU which still have not been met. Most importantly, the incumbent government was implored to pay the salaries that were withheld during the eight-month strike.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) began their two-day nationwide strike on September 5, to protest the national fuel subsidy removal which has multiplied the pre-existing economic hardship faced by Nigerians. ASUU has also resolved to join in the strike action and it has already taken effect in some federal universities. Although classes were held in the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ibadan, some faculties like Education complied with strike instructions and cancelled classes.

At the tail end of 2022, a former ASUU president mentioned that the possibility of another strike could not be ruled out this year (2023), because the strike which was embarked upon to improve the welfare of the Academic University staff did not serve its purpose as the Federal Government would not budge. Earlier this year, Prof. Osodeke did not see the possibility of having a strike-free 2023 “except we have a set of leaders that will be elected and will be human beings and think about the system”.

That ASUU has decided to show solidarity with NLC shows the extent to which this exception has been true under the Tinubu-led government and that their own grievances have remained largely unaddressed. The understanding of what triggers strike actions in Nigeria is enough to think deeply about what happens to the students yet again if the unions embark on (an indefinite) one, especially with the current economic crisis.

University of Ibadan just resumed a new session which has not been particularly easy for students as they battle with the current economic realities of the country which has also influenced the increase of accommodation fees, additional costs in the school fees, and even the high cost of transportation on campus. When the new accommodation fee was approved and released, students feared that there would be a staggering increase in the school fees and one of the sad questions (couched as jokes) that were on their lips was if ASUU would still go on a strike despite the huge amount of school fees they were speculating to pay. This raises an important question of how students of the University of Ibadan would cope if a strike action becomes inevitable at this point (of resumption). More of everyone’s precious learning time is definitely wasted but what happens to the ones who couldn’t conveniently afford the fees and had struggled to no end only to be out of school in a short while?

In the end, we can only dream of and hope for the very best, which is, ASUU’s demands being answered by the Federal Government so we don’t have to pay more with our time in the pursuit of academic knowledge.

Leave a Reply

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