Parents, students panic, kick against disruption of academic calendar


By Gabriel Dike, Fred Ezeh, Abuja; Scholastica Hir, Makurdi; Sola Ojo, Kaduna, Ikemefuna Ikem and Emmanuel Uzor, Awka


Nigerian University System (NUS), specially, public universities may experience another disruption of academic activities if lecturers make good their threat to down tools in two weeks time.

Lecturers in public universities have since 2009 being agitating for improved working conditions and payment of withheld seven months’ salaries. The decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to give the Federal Government two weeks ultimatum on their demands is generating ripples among students and parents.


ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said its NEC meeting took place at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, May 11 to 12, 2024: “The meeting received alarming reports on the failed promises of the federal and state governments towards addressing the lingering issues that forced the union to embark on the nationwide strike of February–October 2022. NEC sadly noted that there are no serious efforts to redress the ugly situation.

“Reports available to NEC indicate that an increasing number of Nigerian academics died while thousands of others are nursing life-threatening ailments occasioned by work-related stress, absolute pauperization, and multidimensional insecurity.

“NEC discussed the grim situation the universities have been grappling with since the former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, truncated over five years of government’s engagements with ASUU at the point of signing a negotiated agreement in 2021.”


He said demands include the sanctity of legally constituted governing councils; review of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement; revitalization fund for public universities; earned academic allowances; and withheld salaries, promotion arrears, and third-party deductions of our members.

Others are illegal recruitments; proliferation of public universities/abuse of universities’ rules/processes; and treasury single account (TSA) and new IPPIS vis-à-vis the autonomy of universities.

Osodeke: “NEC shall reconvene after two weeks from the date of the NEC meeting to review the situation and decide on the next line of action.”



President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Lucky Emonefe, said: “ASUU is our big brother in the struggle. We completely agree with them on the issues they raised because we believe that it will make the system better. But they should consider the plight of students who suffer more whenever these industrial crises start.

“Unarguably, there’s urgent to inaugurate the governing councils for the universities. Vice Chancellors have unilaterally run the affairs of the universities for almost a year now, and that’s disastrous to our university system. Such has discouraged transparency and accountability and promoted corruption.

“We are aware that ASUU had issued two weeks ultimatum. I appeal to President Bola Tinubu and ministers of education not to allow the two weeks to elapse before they take expected action. Even if they can’t do it within the two weeks, some efforts should be seen to have been made towards achieving that.

“No one can doubt the fact that ASUU has a genuine reason to be unhappy, but strike should be last option, because of the wider implications. We always advocate dialogue and negotiations. That has been the approach used by NLC, and it seems to be working. We always insist they discuss the issues and not cause disruption in the system.”

National President, Nigerian Youth Union (NYU), Chinonso Obasi: “Unfortunately, Nigerian students are continually being used as bait by ASUU to drive home her demand. One of ASUU’s demands is non appointment of the governing councils by Tinubu. This is an issue that requires political will to implement. Why then do ASUU want Nigerian students to suffer?

“The setting up of a governing council in higher institutions is backed by an Act and non-compliance ought to have consequences and due process to seek redress. Given the bad state of the Nigerian economy, the implication of another strike will be worst felt by Nigerian students and their guidance. There will be a high crime rate, depression, and mental illness, and guardians would spend more than budgeted.”

Jennifer Egbe’s son, is a 300-Level student of Business Administration, Bayero University Kano (BUK): “My mind skipped when I saw the news items on Tuesday evening about the ultimatum by ASUU. I shouted ‘not again!’

“My son has had his fair share of this academic disruption. He cannot afford to experience it again. It affects him mentally. I am sure other students face similar experience.

“I don’t have the full details of their anger. But whatever it is, they should amicably discuss it, and not resort to strike which does no good to anyone.”

Abigail Ujah, student, Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi: “I think the Federal Government needs to do something fast. They should meet the demands of ASUU because the issue of consistent strike is not good for us, the students.

“Many people tend to lose interest in the education system because of how long they spend in schools. That often leads to poor academic performances. I believe that once you’ve lost interest in a particular thing, you can no longer do it with so much zeal and passion.

“I won’t say it is the fault of ASUU as a whole. It is the government’s responsibility to provide the basic things as being demanded by ASUU.’’

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Mrs. Martha Ochanya Ugbah, said: “ASUU should device another strategy for pressing their demands. Strikes are old fashioned and must be updated. Both ASUU and the government can share the blame. Government has failed to hold its end of the bargain.”

A lawyer in Makurdi, Benue State, Joseph Gbagyo, said: “It is quite unfortunate that ASUU has again issued a two-week ultimatum. It is heartbreaking to say the least. Priority has not been given to our educational system as expected of the government at all levels.

“I will unequivocally say that the blame goes to the government. Under Chapter II of Constitution of Nigeria, it is the paramount duty of government to provide quality education for the citizens of Nigeria. Where this is not the case, then the government should accept responsibility for its failure and gear up to it.”

A civil servant, Mrs Ann Ameh, said: “It is better to negotiate; there should be a common ground to avoid this issue of going on strike. For the students, going on strike is not the best. Because of the idleness, some of them start indulging in taking drugs, involving in crimes that if they were in school they wouldn’t participate.

“As a parent, it’s disheartening to watch the children sit at home and not be busy with their academics when they are students. So it is better that they negotiate and stop these strikes.”

Hembadoon Damna, student, BSU, Makurdi: “ASUU will tell you that they have a lot of backlogs concerning their payments of salaries allowances among others and that the government has not been clearing. Government will come up to say they have done something about it we the students are left somewhere in between. We don’t know who to believe.

“Definitely there would be a lot of setbacks. I signed up for a four-year course. I have spent five years, getting to six already. Remember the lockdown? Another eight months strike and other internal strikes. So it will be a very big setback on my side. When you are going into the university, you already have plans that after graduating, this is what and what I will do but the strikes won’t allow you.

“When they go on these strikes you sit at home you can’t even get busy doing other things because you know that they may call off anytime but again you’re not sure when they will call off the strike. You are spending longer days in school and out there in the society, you are missing a lot of opportunities that you would have taken.”

Another student, Janet Mnena: “I have spent six years in school doing a four-year course. I was supposed to graduate in 2021. This is 2024 I’m still here. This is not good for us and our parents who are paying the bills.

“The house rents are not paid per session but yearly. So instead of paying for four years, I have paid house rents and other bills as a student for six years and still counting. It is frustrating.”

Chairman, ASUU, Kaduna State University (KSU), Kaduna, Dr. Peter Adamu, said: “ASUU has met government officials both formerly and informally to see how we can address abnormalities both in the federal and state universities. Among the abnormalities is the issue of governing council in the universities.

“For 11 months, universities didn’t have governing council. By law, it is the governing council that runs the affairs of the universities on behalf of the visitors who are President in the case of the federal universities and the governors in the case of the state universities.

“But, these universities are running illegally because whatever they do without governing council is illegal. We should not encourage a country where the government that is supposed to follow the rules of law are the ones breaking the law.

“We are just left with lecturers that want to survive eating from hand to mouth. Why would anyone expect that Nigerian universities will be on the map of global ranking when the lecturers are not well-fed?

“Now, the implication is that, the government is about to truncate the calendar of the universities because lecturers are not going to teach. So students will be at home and with the present economic situation, everyone will find a way of survival.”

A parent, Ms. Jessica Bartholomew: “I want to urge the federal and state governments to look at the demands of ASUU so they can be on the same page. This is not the time to embark on strike at all.

“We already have more than enough in our hands as a people. If you are sending our children home, what will they be doing in a country where jobs are scarce ‘commodities’?

“I just hope this won’t come to pass. I remember that prior to the 2023 general elections, Tinubu promised that ASUU issues would be resolved if elected. Now that he has been given the opportunity, he should keep to that promise.”

A student in one of the federal universities, Miss Ochuwa Achichi, said: “The FG should provide a listening ear and provide the necessary grounds while the ASUU should not make difficult demands. Both the ASUU and FG should sit down to make education less challenging for students around the country.”

Chinwe Okenyi, Department of English Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said: “The two-week ultimatum issued by ASUU is disturbing and must be treated with every seriousness because the union has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in universities.

“It will be disastrous if ASUU is allowed to embark on strike again, the situation will no doubt elongate and interrupt our academic calendar as well as expose millions of university students to societal ills as many will be wandering and roaming the streets.”

Cornelius Oragwu is a Master’s degree student, UNN: “They are right in the sense that they deserve better welfare and full autonomy to run the education system. Unfortunately, the FG wouldn’t allow them to fully run the system in tandem with the global best practices. Instead, they continue to run the system with heavy and overwhelming influence from the NUC.”

Christopher Nnadi, a parent Nsukka: “It is very sad and disheartening that strike has become a reoccurring and dominant issue in public universities, yet the federal government appears not to be handling the issue with kid gloves knowing the importance of education to national development.”

Mrs Veronica Ugwuanyi, is a trader and mother of two undergraduates lamented: “Most of the students will stay at home doing nothing, therefore engaging in illicit activities. Government and ASUU should embrace dialogue considering the effects of the strike on both students and their parents.”

Elder Amechi Igwe said: “We received with great concern the news about the ultimatum by ASUU. It has become very frustrating for parents to have their wards in the universities in this country. We are tired. Our children are tired also.”

Christian Nwali accused the Federal Government of insincerity in handling the crisis between it and ASUU: “Students in federal universities have been the worst hit in the issue of strike.”

Rachel Okoye, student, Department of Mass Communications, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State,  said: “The implication of the ultimatum will be great on the students. It will hamper the smooth academic calendar the university has been running.”

Emeka Igwe, Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, said: “The idle mind they said is the devil’s workshop. If ASUU is allowed to go on strike, it will fuel crimes as students who will be at home doing nothing will begin to indulge in criminality.”

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