ENUGU—UNIVERSITY students have been forced to stay home for over two months now due to the strike action embarked upon by their lecturers.
For some of the students, the strike has opened new opportunities for them to explore other positive ways to survive. While some lament the impact of the strike on their academic plans, some of them share their experiences:
Chidi Nwamuo, a third year Estate Survey student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said because his parents are poor, staying in school had always been better for him, adding that the first few weeks of the ASUU strike was a nightmare in the house for him.
“My parents always have my requirements for school ready and I am not usually considered in the family feeding budget when schools are supposed to be in session. The only period they have plans for me is during holidays and I don’t even find such periods easy.
“After staying at home for the first one month of the strike, I took the decision to help myself and assist the family as well. I had to go to one of the construction sites in Awka where I carry blocks to the masons.
“I have been making about N3,000 a day, but being mindful of my health, I don’t do it every day.
“Since I began the job, I feed only once a day in the house as my breakfast and lunch are outside and from the money I make,” Nwamuo explained.
He, however, urged the Federal Government and the leadership of ASUU to consider the plight of the students by speeding up negotiations and reopen the universities.
Another student of Statistics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Ada Okoli said she has become a newspaper vendor to keep herself busy.
According to her, she was not particularly doing it for money, but just to leave the house every morning.
Ogechi Kenneth, a student of Statistics at Abia State University, Uturu, said she has started learning how to do make-up and beads to make money for her studies. She explained that she chose to learn a trade in order to fight boredom and arm herself with skills to reduce dependence on her parents.
Miss Kenneth who is awaiting mobilisation for the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme, NYSC, insisted that she has always dreamt of being self-employed instead of working for government or private organisations.
She, however, noted that she has spent five years doing a four-year course as a result of the ASUU and Federal Government lingering disputes.
In her words: “I am happy that I am now learning a trade to empower myself with skills and also fight boredom. It will help me to depend less on my parents and siblings. You know make-up and bead-making are lucrative businesses among women. I have already started making good money. This is just like a realisation of my dream.
“Even before I started learning this trade, I had always dreamt of being self-employed, not working for government or private companies. So, my learning of the trade is actually a dream come true. I am already realising my dream of self-employment even though I am waiting for mobilisation for the NYSC.”
An undergraduate student of the Department of Political Science, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Mrs. Happiness Ogbaga, said the strike has helped her to save money from a casual employment she secured in an establishment in the state.
Ogbaga, who said she has been finding it difficult to pay her tuition fees, explained that although the strike was not a development to rejoice about, the period has been beneficial to her in a way.
“Before ASUU went on strike, there was a job I was doing to enable me pay my fees and meet other needs; I had to go back to it. So far, I have been able to make some savings and built a social network to enable me expand my horizon.”
However, Mr. Emmanuel Njoku, an Economics student of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, AE-FUNAI, Ebonyi State, is full of sadness over the lingering strike action embarked upon by ASUU.
According to him, “the strike has just made me lazy and less adventurous. I am just at home doing nothing and this is a very dangerous thing. The Federal Government and ASUU should quickly come to a compromise, because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
For a student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri, Blessing Maduka, the strike has offered her the opportunity to learn bakery.
Maduka, a third year student, said she has started learning the art before the strike commenced and the strike has enabled her to concentrate and master the art of bakery. She said it was a decision she took at the beginning of the year, 2022 to learn a skill.
Though she desired to complete her studies, Maduka is not in a hurry to resume, as according to her, those in bakery business make enticing money.
“I am not bothered about the strike because I am engaged. I am learning bakery. I started learning it even before the strike. Then, I would go for the training during my free period. Because of time, I wasn’t getting much from the learning, but I am now fully committed to it. I took the decision at the beginning of the year to acquire a skill.
I am not even praying for the strike to end soon. Yes, I would want to graduate and get my certificate, but that can wait for now.
“I have seen that these people make much money from this business, money you wouldn’t imagine they would make. Some people look down on it, but I want to master it and see if I can establish my own,” she stated.
But a 400 level student of Political Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Blessing Ajogwu, expressed great disappointment over the lingering strike action. She told South-East Voice that the strike action has dashed her hope of graduating this year.
“I feel very bad that I will be spending extra year in the university. Normally, I am supposed to graduate this year but because of the strike action, it won’t be possible. Secondly, I keep paying rent for an accommodation I am not making use of,” she lamented.
Miss Ajogwu, who is now holidaying in Edo State, also regretted that nobody sends her pocket money anymore since she is not in school.
Another 400 level student of Mass Communication, UNN, Emmanuel Ejiofor said the strike has afforded him an opportunity to finish his outstanding assignments and his project work.
He, however, expressed concern over the lingering strike action, urging his fellow students not to while away time but to learn a skill to empower themselves for financial sustainability upon graduation.
“With the lingering ASUU strike, I am planning to start learning computer programming which would acquaint me with data analysis skills from next month. I want my fellow students to learn either soft or hard skills like computer programming, tailoring or phone repair so that they don’t waste their time at home,” Ejiofor said.
An Engineering student in Owerri, Ifeanyi Ugosinachi said that the strike has provided him an opportunity to go and make some money.
“I still owe my school fees. I want the strike to go on a little longer so that I can strive and make some money and pay my school fees and other levies.”
Another student, Prisca Nnadi, a student of International Relations, lamented the lingering strike action, saying: “This is complete wickedness; this is why I don’t believe in this country. Just imagine the way they are destroying our educational system, very wicked I must say.”
For Kelechi Ibeh, an English Language student, the strike action is frustrating, adding they have given up hope and resigned to fate.
“Let the strike continue till the next 10 years, we have given up on this country. I am now making some money. We have entered the streets, we must survive.”
A student of medicine and surgery at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, Ezekiel Odoabuchi expressed worry over the strike, lamenting that “it is not going well with university students now.”
Odoabuchi, however, maintained that ASUU is fighting for what rightfully belong to them, but regretted that the strike has set the students back, stopping them from graduating according to the academic calendar