There has been reported jubilation in parts of Cross River State as soon as it emerged that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reached agreement with the Federal Government over some of its demands.
The two parties reached a deal after government met some of the union’s demands including pledging to pay about N35.4 billion to universities for salaries and allowances. The deal was expected to end the strike action.
The students said they have become wearied by the long-drawn-out strikes by the union which has made them to lose a lot of academic time.
Agnes Brown, a student of UNICAL, said she should have graduated last year but due to the incessant strikes by either ASUU or other unions in the universities, her academic progress has been disrupted several times.
She said the signing of an agreement between ASUU and government was an indication that other affected students would soon return to school.
She however said if the strike ends as envisaged, lecturers and students would have accumulated work to clear to meet up the academic calendar.
“Like other students who have been at home because of the ASUU strike, I am happy that it is coming to an end. But the consequence is that our graduation time will again be extended, and this will impact against students. Once we resume lecturers would be rushing over our courses to meet the curriculum,” Agnes said.
A newly admitted student at the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, Helen Peter, 16, who, because of the strike relocated to stay with her parents in Calabar, lamented that her parents had paid the required fees for the academic year as well as other charges yet she was unable to commence her studies owing to the ASUU strike.
“I have been longing to start my university education. My father has paid the acceptance fee, the school fees and other charges hoping that I would commence my studies but I have not. The strike has dampened my spirit. But I am elated over the news I am hearing about the reported agreement reached between ASUU and government to end the action,” she said.
Reacting to the strike, a lecturer with UNICAL and a public analyst, Peter Iyali, said Nigeria at 57 has still not seen reason to place premium on education, noting that if the education sector was given appropriate attention via adequate funding, nobody would be talking about strike today.
“On my experience, strike has never been a good thing either for students or lecturers. One thing people fail to understand is that lecturers feel the impact of strike even more than students. No lecturer enjoys staying at home. There is more to academics than just teaching. Apart from the fact that strike slows the smooth running of academic calendar, it affects other things too,” he said.