ENUGU—UNIVERSITY students have been forced to stay home for over two months now due to the strike action embarked upon by their lecturers.
For some of the students, the strike has opened new opportunities for them to explore other positive ways to survive. While some lament the impact of the strike on their academic plans, some of them share their experiences:
Chidi Nwamuo, a third year Estate Survey student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said because his parents are poor, staying in school had always been better for him, adding that the first few weeks of the ASUU strike was a nightmare in the house for him.
“My parents always have my requirements for school ready and I am not usually considered in the family feeding budget when schools are supposed to be in session. The only period they have plans for me is during holidays and I don’t even find such periods easy.
“After staying at home for the first one month of the strike, I took the decision to help myself and assist the family as well. I had to go to one of the construction sites in Awka where I carry blocks to the masons.
“I have been making about N3,000 a day, but being mindful of my health, I don’t do it every day.
“Since I began the job, I feed only once a day in the house as my breakfast and lunch are outside and from the money I make,” Nwamuo explained.
He, however, urged the Federal Government and the leadership of ASUU to consider the plight of the students by speeding up negotiations and reopen the universities.
Another student of Statistics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Ada Okoli said she has become a newspaper vendor to keep herself busy.
According to her, she was not particularly doing it for money, but just to leave the house every morning.
Ogechi Kenneth, a student of Statistics at Abia State University, Uturu, said she has started learning how to do make-up and beads to make money for her studies. She explained that she chose to learn a trade in order to fight boredom and arm herself with skills to reduce dependence on her parents.
Miss Kenneth who is awaiting mobilisation for the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme, NYSC, insisted that she has always dreamt of being self-employed instead of working for government or private organisations.
She, however, noted that she has spent five years doing a four-year course as a result of the ASUU and Federal Government lingering disputes.
In her words: “I am happy that I am now learning a trade to empower myself with skills and also fight boredom. It will help me to depend less on my parents and siblings. You know make-up and bead-making are lucrative businesses among women. I have already started making good money. This is just like a realisation of my dream.
“Even before I started learning this trade, I had always dreamt of being self-employed, not working for government or private companies. So, my learning of the trade is actually a dream come true. I am already realising my dream of self-employment even though I am waiting for mobilisation for the NYSC.”
An undergraduate student of the Department of Political Science, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Mrs. Happiness Ogbaga, said the strike has helped her to save money from a casual employment she secured in an establishment in the state.
Ogbaga, who said she has been finding it difficult to pay her tuition fees, explained that although the strike was not a development to rejoice about, the period has been beneficial to her in a way.
“Before ASUU went on strike, there was a job I was doing to enable me pay my fees and meet other needs; I had to go back to it. So far, I have been able to make some savings and built a social network to enable me expand my horizon.”
However, Mr. Emmanuel Njoku, an Economics student of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, AE-FUNAI, Ebonyi State, is full of sadness over the lingering strike action embarked upon by ASUU.
According to him, “the strike has just made me lazy and less adventurous. I am just at home doing nothing and this is a very dangerous thing. The Federal Government and ASUU should quickly come to a compromise, because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”