ASUU STRIKE: THE STRIKE IS NOT A WASTE, WE’VE BEEN PRODUCTIVE – UNIVERSITY LECTURERS

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)(ASUU) has been on strike for nearly five months now to protest the Nigerian government’s failure to implement the agreements it entered with the union.

University campuses have been deserted, as lecturers continue to shun the classrooms.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), a student body, has staged protests, at different times, asking the government and ASUU to find a common ground and reopen universities in the country.

ASUU and the government are yet to reach a deal despite a series of meetings.

Life has not been rosy for many of the lecturers who have not been receiving their salaries.

PREMIUM TIMES spoke recently with lecturers in some universities in Nigeria to find out what they have been doing with their time while their schools remained shut down.

Chidiebere Nwachukwu: (University of Nigeria, Nsukka). The strike has been hard on both students and the lecturers and even the entire university community. Everybody has been complaining about the impact of the strike. On our part as academics, it has also been very difficult. There are situations where both the husband and the wife are lecturers and so the family has no other means of livelihood apart from their salaries. Imagine the stress they have been going through to find food for their families.

But beyond that, the strike has afforded some of us the opportunity to carry out some research work. So, we have not been idle. I have used the last five months to engage in intellectual and academic exercises like research. Research has actually taken a lot of my time just like other lecturers. It has been a good time for us to invest in research, so that we can publish (them) in the hope that the published works will impact society, especially in making policies. In addition to research, we have also spent time writing books.

Kingsley Izuogu: (Abia State University, Uturu): Well, for me, I have never relented. Even though I don’t go for lectures, I have been doing my writing jobs. Within this period, I have sent well over six articles to international journals. And right now, I am working on a textbook which I entitled, ‘Marketing Communication.’ So, I am not resting.

But then, the financial aspect of it is excruciating, because if there was any notice, one would have said ‘let me save for the rainy day.’ So, nobody thought that this industrial action would have lingered long. We felt, perhaps, given that the country was nearing an electioneering period, that they would have used that opportunity to settle on time. But we didn’t know we were dealing with deaf and dumb.

Edith U. Ohaja: (University of Nigeria, Nsukka) I’ve been quite busy during this strike. I had some studies that were put on hold due to massive workload while students were in school. By God’s grace, I’ve completed some and submitted them to the targeted journals. I’ve been able to revise a few that have received favourable reviews and I’ve sent them back to the journals for publication. So far, I’ve got several new titles in my portfolio since the strike began.

When school resumes and the cycle of teaching and marking scripts commences again, there’s little time left daily to attend to one’s research efforts, without which advancement as an academic is impossible.

I also update my website (edithohaja.com) and social media pages, particularly on Facebook, with faith and inspirational posts, concise socio-political commentary and creative writing.

Above all, I have ample time to think and pray. Our country is at a crossroads and we all need to be engaged one way or another in seeing to its rescue.

Obiorah Edogor: (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State) I must say that the strike action embarked upon by lecturers is necessary to press home some urgent demands. But it goes with consequences and part of the consequences is that our major source of income has been stopped.

So, personally, the way I cope (with it) is that when the strike started, I started engaging myself in some other things. You know I cannot take full-time employment elsewhere now. So, with my colleagues and friends and then the contacts I have, I do some professional communication consultancies, either writing for payment or speaking at occasions. From such, I get paid.

And then, I am using this period to equally do my personal research work. I think the strike period is not a total waste for me. But I must say that I miss my students. I am not happy that our universities are closed.

Faith Azubuike: (Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State) We have been depending on God to survive. I am trying to develop myself. Just self-development to learn some things that I need to learn. There are some academic stuff that I compiled during this period of ASUU strike. Like writing research and searching for funding bodies. Also reading books in my field to improve myself.

K. C. Ubaku: (Imo State University, Owerri). For us lecturers, anytime we embark on strike, it is not usually easy. Someone like myself, it has not been easy with me. Although the government of Imo State is trying to make sure that our monthly remuneration is paid. They have not defaulted in that area, but staying indoors is not really easy. It has been very boring to all the lecturers here in Imo State University. Our experience here is different from those in federal universities.

Within this period of the ASUU strike, I have been using the time to engage in research to the best of my ability.

Outside the lecturing job, I don’t have any other work I am doing. But some lecturers have been able to engage in businesses.

So, for me, I have not really been doing anything that will improve my economic state. I have been conducting research.

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