Lecturers and and students in the South East have indicated interest in resuming classes as soon as the Federal Government and striking unions in the academic environment resolved the perennial dispute, which has dragged on for five months. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on industrial action on 14 February and was joined later by other unions in public universities.
Students are gladdened by the possible reopening of public universities and they told The Nation that they would rush to classes immediately the action is called off.
A student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, John Amah expressed joy over the likely reopening of the academic institutions, saying he could not afford to wait any longer. “For me, it’s a welcome development. Though I didn’t expect the strike to last this long. If the strike is called off, I would be glad. I can’t wait to return to school”, he said.
Another student, Chisom Obi said the students were ready to return to school anytime the strike was called off. “I hope it is called off soon. We are ready to return to school. It has not been easy staying at home when you should be in school. I was in my lodge last week and it was very boring as there was no one else there. I was in town for a programme. Despite the loneliness, I really enjoyed being back to the school environment”, she said.
The ASUU branch at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State said the strike had hit hard on its members as they had not been paid salaries for five months. The union however stated the resolve of its members to continue the strike until all their demands were addressed.
The branch Chairman, Egwu Ogugua said the lecturers were ready to return to the classroom once the issues were properly addressed by the Federal Government. “As I am speaking to you now, I am about travelling. But if I get a call that an agreement has been reached and the strike called off, I will suspend the journey and mobilise members back to the classroom immediately”.
Also some students, who were doing business around the school environment, called on the Federal Government to heed the demands of ASUU in bringing an end to the industrial action. Elom Cynthia, Abraham Chinonso and Igbe Chisom, students and business owners, lamented that the strike had adversely affected their daily income since there was low patronage from the few students around the campus.
The Students’ Union Government President, Comrade Jerry Okafor expressed dissatisfaction over the strike. He wondered why strikes had become an annual occurrence in tertiary institutions in the country.
The mmediate past Chairman of ASUU at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Prof. Dennis Aribodor, said the branch was yet to receive directives from their national leadership to resume work. He urged federal and state governments to place premium on education at all levels, as well as provide adequate funding for the sector.
“As our Comrade President (of ASUU) said a few days ago, if government does the needful, the union will meet to review the situation and take appropriate actions”, Aribodor said.
Credit: The Nation