“In this world nothing is sure but death and taxes”. In Nigeria, you can add strike action in universities to that list.
For students of federal or state universities, it is never really a case of if their institutions will go on strike, but when and, more dreadfully, for how long.
In a typical federal/state university in Nigeria, a 4-year course isn’t really a 4-year course, it’s a 4-year course with add-ons that could range from one additional year to a few more of your valuable years.
This distressing rhetoric has pretty much been a constant feature in the Nigerian education sector, and 2016 was no different as the following institutions were on strike at one point or the other in what has been a truly crazy year.
1. Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)
OAU is one of the most notorious institutions in Nigeria when it comes to strike actions, and they didn’t disappoint this year as the institution was engulfed in an administrative crisis that halted academic activities for two months.
Trouble started when workers protested the process involved in appointing a new Vice Chancellor and the institution was eventually shut down when the members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) halted activities.
After the Federal government’s intervention in appointing Professor Anthony Elujoba as the Acting Vice Chancellor, calm was restored and students were asked to resume in August.
2. University of Lagos (UNILAG)
The most common reason for shut down of institutions in Nigeria has to be strike actions instituted by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), but sometimes it could also be as a direct result of students' actions.
Or, more appropriately, the authorities’ disdain for students' actions that they don’t agree with (which is pretty much any).
In April, close to the semester’s examination period, the UNILAG management shut down the school indefinitely after students had protested over their abysmal living conditions, with erratic power and poor water supply in the institution’s halls of residence.
The strike lasted for a month as students were recalled in May to write their exam after they must have signed an undertaking and indemnity form.
3. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH)
The issue of LAUTECH is a very interesting one.
The students of this institution have not only been failed by one government, they have been held hostage by two – the Oyo state and Osun state governments.
Both state governments are jointly responsible for the financing of the institution, and this is a responsibility they have failed at after staff of the university (ASUU, NASU and SSANU) refused to work due to the failure of the authorities to pay their salaries.
This was over six months ago now, and LAUTECH students still don’t know when they’re supposed to go back into the classrooms and get on with their lives.
4. Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB)
Reportedly fed up with the constant cases of robbery attacks that were being carried out on students of the institution, students of FUNAAB organized a protest in August, and it didn’t quite end well as a student and two policemen were wounded during the protests, with seven vehicles burnt.
The institution was shut down by the authorities as students were asked to vacate the school premises.
Students were recalled to resume academic activities in October on the condition that each of them paid a N5,000 reparation fee.
5. Kogi State University (KSU)
In April of this year, students of Kogi State University had their academic activities put on hold due to the all-too-familiar issue of unpaid salaries and allowances to ASUU as staff members embarked on a 'No pay, No work' action that lasted for three months.
The disgruntled union didn’t resume work until they were paid some of the backlog of salaries, and trouble arose again in November as they started grumbling for the rest of their pay, threatening to embark on another strike action.
6. Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA)
AAUA earns its place on this list with the unfortunate death of a student of the institution whose life was cut short by a reckless motorcyclist on April 8.
Students started to protest the tragedy as the culprit was not caught and the protest soon spiraled out of control and led to the destruction of university properties worth millions of naira.
Students were only recalled in June to resume academic activities, on the condition of paying a reparation fee ofN15,000each and anaffidavitfrom a court.
However, this was not the end of the school’s flirtation with strike action this year, as the staff of its ASUU chapter embarked on an industrial strike action from July 4 to October 17, 2016, over non-payment of their salaries (as usual) by the state government.
Other grievances of the union included what they said were unnecessary deductions made in arrears, as well as the government’s irresponsibility with developing the dilapidated and abandoned infrastructures in the institution.
7. University of Ibadan (UI)
After students of the University of Ibadan staged protests earlier this year in April over what was determined to be the school management’s victimization of a certain student, as well as the state of the power and water supply in the school, the authorities indefinitely shut down the school and sent the students packing.
They were later recalled to resume six weeks later in June.
The institution’s Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Unions (NASU) also went on a two weeks strike in August over unpaid fees, an action that momentarily delayed the semester’s examination exercise.
8. Imo State University (IMSU)
When the Imo state government carried out a 30 per cent salary cut on its workers in March, lecturers of the Imo State University were not happy and commenced a strike action to show their displeasure to Governor Rochas Okorocha.
After two months of the strike, students of the institution embarked on a protest and marched to the Government House to demand an audience with the governor. They had to be dispersed by a Police Mobile Force that deployed tear gas on the crowd.
The strike was called off late in June, after three months, and students were asked to resume.
9. Ebonyi State University (EBSU)
Ebonyi state governor David Umahi declared war on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) chapter of the institution after the union failed to heed the governor’s call to suspend an ongoing strike.
In October, the governor ordered the state Commissioner of Education to not pay any lecturer who refused to work.
ASUU had embarked on the strike in protest against salary deductions and a host of other issues including removing the institution’s Vice Chancellor Prof Francis Idike.
The strike was shortlived as it only lasted for four days after both parties agreed to dialogue.
10. Ambrose Alli University (AAU)
On October 28, 2016, aggrieved students of Ambrose Alli University organized themselves to protest against an incredible hike in tuiton fees that the management had just instituted.
In trying to make their feelings known, the students barricaded a busy Benin-Auchi road as well as block the institution’s main gate.
Unfortunately, the protest soon turned violent amid reports of looting of a rice truck that was later set ablaze, as well as the alleged shooting of two students.
The school management announced the indefinite closure of the school on November 14, 2016.
Students are still waiting on a resumption date.
It is clear that the strike action culture in Nigerian institutions is only borne out of two things; a power move, or a punishment.
Either way, the biggest casualty is the Nigerian student.