ASUU Strike: Students Remain in Hostels, Optimistic

Student protest strikE

More than two weeks after university lecturers embarked on an indefinite strike, most students of the University of Jos have remained in the hostels, believing that the issues that led to the strike would soon be resolved.

A correspondent, who visited the school, observed that most students had not travelled out, even when there are no lectures.

He observed that most of the students spend most of their time inside their rooms, the libraries, recreational spots and the hostel common rooms.

Others were seen on football pitches or Tennis courts, with some of them saying that they were already getting bored with the inactivity in the campus.

Some of them, who spoke, on the ASUU strike expressed optimism that the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), would soon settle their differences.

Mr Gideon Oga, a final year student in the Faculty of Education, said that he was taking advantage of the ASUU Strike to complete his project. “I was combining the daily lectures with writing my project; now that there are no lectures, I spend most of the time doing research and writing my project,” he said.

Oga, however, called on the Federal Government to address the issues raised by ASUU so as to placate them to return to the classes.

“For me, going home is not an option for now because I believe that the strike will end soon,” he said Another student, Glory Onyemechere, said that she would remain in the hostel until the ASUU strike was called off.

“My parents live in Lagos. I do not want to travel to Lagos and arrive on the day the strike will be called off. That will cause a lot of physical, psychological and financial stress for me,” she said.

She expressed optimism that the strike would soon be called off in the interest of the students because they are the worst victims of the impasse. “I will remain in the hostel because I know that the Federal Government has the interest of students at heart and will not compromise good education for any reason,” she said.

Mr Ernest Atulayo, a post-graduate student, advised the Federal Government and ASUU to seek out common grounds toward ending the strike in the interest of the youths. “No society can survive without education; all sides should strive to make compromises so as to reach some agreements.

Nigeria cannot afford the cost of keeping the universities shut for too long,” he said. Another student, Boniface Mandung, urged the government to consider ASUU’s request for more funds to the universities to boost their quality and prepare Nigerian graduates to compete with their counterparts in other parts of the world.

Mr Ezra Peter, a 200 level student, on his part, decried the “slow pace of the negotiation between ASUU and the Federal Government”. “The pace of the negotiation is very slow. The two sides are acting as if nothing is at stake.

“No side appears to be in any particular hurry. I think this is odd and unfair to the students that are suffering the effect of the strike,” he said.

Miss Halimah Abdullahi, a student at the Abuja hostel, said that the Federal Government had the capacity to meet ASUU’s demands if it was willing to do so.

“ASUU is not asking for the impossible; I have seen what they are asking for and I am convinced that government can meet all the demands if it is ready.

All that is required is understanding and sincere commitment,” she said. Contacted, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, Chairman of the university’s chapter of ASUU, said that the lecturers’ demands were in the interest of the students and the entire education system. “We are asking for more funding so as to have a quality education.

“We are also not happy that government is planning to increase tuition fee for the students in the guise of sharing responsibility with parents.

“We are also angry that some universities have not been regular in the payment of salaries to lecturers. “We have signed lots of agreements with the government, but they have always refused to implement them.

We want the government to keep its side of the bargain,” he said. On the possibility of ending the strike soon, Maigoro said that he had no idea. “As it is, I cannot tell you anything definite because government’s chief negotiator, Dr. Wale Babalakin, appears to be more interested in frustrating us.

“He does not appear serious about settling the issues, or even in engaging ASUU in serious discussions. “Generally, we find him a bit arrogant; from what we have been told, he very often refuses to show up for some of the meetings,” he alleged.

Maigoro advised stakeholders and other members of the society to plead with the government to address the issues, saying that the university lecturers were anxious to return to the classes but were waiting for the right thing to be done.

The lecturers embarked on the strike on Nov. 5, and have vowed to remain at home until their demands are met. But Babalakin has dismissed claims that his team had proposed to introduce huge tuition fees to students.

The Chief Negotiator, in an interview with newsmen, said that introducing tuition fees was not part of the committee’s mandate, and wondered where ASUU officials were getting the “outrageous figures” from.

He reaffirmed his committee’s commitment to the negotiations that started last week, and promised that “positive results will emerge soon”. (NAN)

Culled from Vanguard News Nigeria.

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