On the 14th of October, the Academic Staff Union of Universities suspended its 8-month-long strike to much applause from Nigerians. Although many students were tired of the strike, they had also moved on, lost enthusiasm for the classroom, and the energy to return to school had waned.
A student said, “I feel like it shouldn’t have been called off. I’m tired, I don’t want to go back.” For her, the energy to return to the classroom has been drained out of her.
We caught up with 5 students from different schools to tell us how they feel about the suspension of the strike.
Funmilayo Obasa, University of Ilorin
I’m happy about it. I don’t know if there’s a word for this but my feelings lie between happiness and neutrality. Something like that. I’m happy about it because, at least, when school resumes, I will be able to submit my project and get out. I just want to get it over with. Okay, I’m not neutral about it, I’m anxious. That’s it; I’m happy and anxious at the same time. I’m anxious because, well, it’s been 8 months since the last time I’ve been in school and there’s that anxiety of starting all over again because that’s how it feels like. But since I’m in my final year, the anxiety is not as much as when they called the strike-off in 2020. At least it’s better, I just want to get it over with and get out of school.
Uchenna Emelife, Usmanu Danfodiyo University
I think my immediate reaction to the strike being called off was joy. We would finally be back in class; of course, I was happy. But right after that, what followed was shock. Because for the first time in eight months, it dawned on me that I had spent the last 30+ weeks at home and refused to be schooled for no fault of mine. When you think about it, you realise that you did nothing to deserve this. I did nothing to spend almost a year awaiting the conclusion of my last semester, did nothing to lose the opportunities that came my way because I didn’t have a certificate to certify my skills, and did nothing to be treated this unfairly.
And then my reaction moved to anger. When I realised that just like everything in the country, we are expected to move on, to return to our classrooms and act like nothing happened – like we didn’t have our lives forcefully halted and we had to feign to be fine and productive to make sense of it. They say Nigerians can adapt to anything; a conditioning that has made us refuse to question anything. Why should this be the norm? When is it going to stop? This suspension is not the win we think it is, because haven’t we seen it happen over and over again?
Emmanuel Ojeikhodian, University of Benin
First, I was largely broken when I heard ASUU was going on strike a few months before my final exams and graduation. I had plans installed for the year already only to find myself dealing with eight months out of school. The period is indeed a long one, I don’t feel the urge to resume or even choose to return to class anymore. The feeling of being in class once more is empty and I would say I’ve moved but there’s always a reconsideration.
John Fawole, Obafemi Awolowo University
I am happy for both cases. During the strike, I had more time to upskill as an engineer and make more money. So the strike was a blessing. On the other hand, resumption is good news too because I would be able to wrap up my degree on time. In both cases, I am the winning one.
Adebayo Abdulrahman, University of Ilorin
It’s not like I’m being selfish but I’ll prefer we finish this year at home. A lot of people have redirected their lives from this school thing because they’ve made us realise that schooling is not really the key. We might resume today and another strike will begin. That’s another year. You don’t know what they can do. You fit finish that school and still no get job. Me, I’ve redirected my life to another path that is shaping up. Now, going back to school to reform again, e no make sense. 4 years don turn 6 years. E no fresh. Another issue is accommodation. People will start having to sort that out with their landlords. Some people just paid rent at that time. Now, the rent might have expired and that’s another problem.
If you’re a student affected by ASUU strike and you’d like to tell us how you feel about its suspension, go ahead and do so, we’re all ears.