Coping With Prolonged ASUU Strike

Tired of staying idle at home owing to the ongoing ASUU strike some undergraduates have taken to menial jobs to keep themselves

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Nov. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

LIKE unemployed graduates who have learned to cope with the harsh economic conditions, undergraduates of various universities in Nigeria have also devised different means of coping with the idleness occasioned by the lingering strike by their lecturers under the aegis of the academic staff union of universities, ASUU. ASUU had embarked on total strike on July 1, to compel the federal government to honour the agreement it reached with the body in 2009. According to the body, the government had been insincere in implementing the agreement which bordered on funding, institutional autonomy and some other issues.

Since the strike began, academic activities had been paralysed in virtually all universities in the country. The campuses have become deserted as students who stayed back at the beginning of the strike with the hope that it would be resolved soon have returned to their homes. As the strike enters its fourth month, some students staying at home have found their idleness to be a terrible experience. But for some others, the strike has been a blessing in disguise as it has given them the opportunity to engage in some worthwhile ventures.

Richard Ejije

For instance, Mercy Aladi, an undergraduate of biological sciences at the Benue state university, has taken to hair dressing. According to her, the strike is beneficial because she has been able to save some money for herself. She said she started hair dressing as a helping hand at her sister’s salon in the second week of the strike because she did not want to remain idle at home.

“I didn’t want to just sit down at home doing nothing. So I asked my sister who owns a salon if I could come and help her. She agreed and I started going there since the second week of the strike. Now, I have improved my hair dressing skills and I have made enough money to sustain me when school resumes.” Although she is happy about making money, Aladi is tired of the strike and eager to return to school. “I am making money but I am really tired of this strike. I want to go back to school and complete my studies.”

Like Aladi, Richard Ejije is another undergraduate who has opted to do something productive during the strike period. The third year student of biochemistry at the University of Benin has enrolled at a catering school to learn baking and other culinary skills. “I couldn’t bear to stay at home and do nothing, so I enrolled at a catering school. I have always wanted to learn how to bake and cook well. Although, I don’t intend to open a business on that line, the skill will be useful to me on a personal level.

Despite being occupied, Ejije said incessant strikes by lecturers had delayed him and his counterparts in other public universities from completing their studies in time. “This strike is slowing us down. I’m in my 300 level but I would have been in my final year now. The ASUU strike is never a blessing at all because it has forced many youths into some social vices and other unwholesome practices. The strike seems to have a more telling effect on undergraduates residing outside Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other urban areas. For such undergraduates, there are no menial jobs to keep them busy and so they have to spend a better part of their time at home.

Onyinye Nwafor

Onyinye Nwafor is one of such undergraduates. Since the strike began, she has not been able to get a menial job to keep her busy in Asaba where she lives. “I am really tired of this strike. I have tried getting a job to keep me busy but all those I have approached have turned me down because they don’t know when the strike will be called off.” It is not just undergraduates who are bearing the pains of the strike, admissions seekers into various universities are also eager to see the schools resume.

Ilerioluwa Olayiwola who is awaiting admission into the Obafemi Awolowo University is in a quandary. She had just concluded her first year at the university when she decided to change her course and rewrite her UTME which she passed excellently. She, however, has braced up to lose a year as a sacrifice for the change of course. Unfortunately, the one year has been prolonged by ASUU’s indefinite strike. For now, Olayinwola has got a temporary job to keep off idleness as long as the strike lasts.

“I have been working as the customer relations officer, CRO, in a company in Lagos, and I am also learning to make clothes at my mother’s shop on weekends. Although what I am getting from the company as salary is small, I am grateful to be occupied unlike some of my mates who are just roaming on the streets.

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