By: Hamzat Mariam
Following recent reports of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarking on a nationwide strike, our correspondent, Kenny Olunloyo, who couldn’t help but take the matter up conceived the idea of a field report which carries the opinion of members of the general public. For her story, she contacted lecturers, students and other members of the public to find out their thoughts on the seemingly unending strike ASUU has embarked on for about six months now.
Meeting up with Prof. Ajelamo, the Head of Department Political Science and Administration, University of Ibadan, he further reaffirmed the fact that Lecturers are on a nationwide strike for a 5-point agenda to be looked into by the Government.
The agendas being- Increase in Scholarship and grants, payment of stipends, investment in projects, gratifying payment of salaries, and supply of laboratory equipment to secondary schools. All of these, the professor believes will make life and learning easier for lecturers and students if they were looked into.
“Grants and increase in scholarship and fellowship program abroad will help lecturers and students a lot. It will make our work even easier. Though we are not suffering, still we do not have to be “poor and indigent” like some student’s scholarship say to have our education sponsored. They are simply things we deserve as scholars”. Mr. Ajelamo expressed bitter regret at how university teaching staffs have been reduced to pulling strings and applying many-to-one for scholarships.
Another member of the Union, Dr.Owolabi Titus of the Economics Department Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife explained that the strike was called for with the type of treatment members of ASUU receive from the Government. He questioned the reason his salary has not increased since he had been promoted a few months ago. “I’m not some University student who labours hard for 4-5 years only to be handled #100 as the cash prize, simply because it’s the tradition. The Government should look at the current worth of levels and stop paying us salaries people at that level earned years ago’.
Meanwhile, a non-teaching staff at the Obafemi Awolowo University said he could not blame the teaching staffs for going on strike. The fact that they think to ask for improvement to be made on schools meant for staff children shows how much they care. He also said that it is for the best if laboratory equipment in these staff schools are increased, as the ones in many universities lack and are almost empty. As a laboratory technician, he advised that supplying staff schools with more laboratory equipment will go a long way, that way some students will have ideas of practical which universities do not have the capacity to perform.
On the other hand though, a student who pleaded anonymity said that she couldn’t fathom why lecturers are still asking for gratifying payment when they have gotten all the gratifying satisfaction they need from their students through sex. In her words, she said many of those male lecturers don’t need to go on strikes or even be paid, they get enough from many of their students; it should be their salaries. ‘What about all the books and manuals we are forced to buy because they are simply not compulsory but necessary, don’t they make enough from those?’, she said.
Mr. Lawal, parent to a resh graduate waiting for his call up letter complained about how much the strike is causing a delay. Having paid a huge amount to finish his project, his son’s details have not been sent to NYSC for call up, nor does he have the result to apply for postgraduate studies. Though Mr. Lawal complained about the strike delaying his son, our correspondent, found out that the son has taken to learning a trade, all thanks to ASUU strike.
As at the time of gathering this report, we are unable to reach the Minister of Education for reactions. However, all indications after talks and interviews show that the lectures are concerned about students. They care so much that they fear being treated as one by the Government.
Hamzat Mariam is a budding satirist. She took interest in satire not so long ago and has been trying her hand at it.