Nigerian students are worried as the stalemate between the striking University lecturers and the Government continues to linger. ASUU had been on strike before the Nationwide lockdown of the country due to COVID-19 virus in the country. The total and indefinite strike of ASUU was over government failure to fulfil the pact/agreement reached with the lecturers in February, 2019. Payment plan of EAA was stated in that pact. Also stated was the issue of salary review. As it stands it seems Nigerian lecturers are the least paid in the world. Findings have shown that polytechnic and college of education lecturers earn more than University lecturers. That can be surprising if really true! ASUU claims lecturers are owed July and August salaries with some University dons being owed since February, 2020. That can be surprising if really true!
Other part of the pact which was agreed upon was provision of facilities for teaching and research. many lecturers have informed our reporter/correspondent that they use their salaries to fund their research, attend conferences and pay for published papers. Paper publication is one of the yardsticks to gain promotion. Any lecturer who does not publish is said to be getting set for perishing.
Currently, ASUU is saying for Universities to open the Government should fulfil NCDC guidelines on campus lecture halls, hostels and other facilities. ASUU claims the facilities were previously overcrowded before the COVID-19 pandemic and now with social distancing it will be difficult to accommodate students in the halls and lecture rooms. Another aspect is transport. Most students struggle for transport during rush hours in the morning and in the evenings. How then will social distancing be maintained? ASUU leadership said they are worried for the students and lecturers who will be meeting in these conditions. They stated that the COVID-19 is not totally gone and its important to avoid a resurgence.
Students under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) have asked the government to reopen the schools since other public places are opened. Some states in the country have announced the reopening of its schools. Students in Nigerian Universities were warming up when ASUU came up and said it wont resume if its reasons for going on strike are not met. Many students who are in their final year are worried that they ought to have graduated if not for COVID-19 and now ASUU strike. Other undergraduates are also tired of staying at home. Parents are worried over this imbroglio too.
The Government had stated recently that they are discussing with ASUU on the matter. The body language of both parties and the press conferences/statements of ASUU in the last two weeks does not portray any discussion is ongoing.
What will the students do now?
What will the parents do now?
What will the Government do now?
What will Nigerians do now?
Who will bell the cat?
Time will tell!