With the industrial action suspended by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), it is not yet uhuru for lecturers as many lament the inability to go to work with empty pockets.
The strike has been called off but the lecturers are worried about their logistics for resumption with no money in their pockets.
Their salaries have been withheld for seven months due to the ‘no work no pay’ policy slammed on them by the federal government while the strike lasted.
ASUU last week Friday suspended the strike after a series of meetings, negotiations, and disagreements with the federal government which climaxed with a Court Appeal judgment that mandated the academic union to obey the order of the National Industrial Court by calling off the strike.
The strike which began on Monday, February 14, 2022, led to a suspension of academic activities in Federal and State Universities across the country.
Recall that the government had at a point, filed a suit against ASUU and obtained an order that the union should suspend the strike while negotiations continue. ASUU on its part challenged the judgment at the appellate court which ruled that it should first obey the lower court before its appeal can be heard.
The academic body in a statement released on Friday, October 14, 2022, to announce the suspension of the strike, urged its members to resume work.
Different schools have announced resumption dates to hurriedly finish the second semester and begin the next academic session which is already belated. As of the last count, 15 universities have announced resumption. They are:
1. Federal University Dutsin-Ma – October 16, 2022
2. University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt – October 17, 2022.
3. Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko – October 17, 2022.
4. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso – October 17, 2022.
5. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike – October 17, 2022.
6. Federal University Owerri – October 17, 2022.
7. Olabisi Onabanjo University – October 17, 2022.
8. University of Nigeria, Nsukka – October 22, 2022.
9. Bayero University Kano – October 24, 2022.
10. Alex Ekweme Federal University Ndufu-Alike – October 24, 2022.
11. Sule Lamido University, Karfin-Hausa – October 31, 2022.
12. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife – October 20, 2022
13. Federal University Lokoja – October 24, 2022.
14. University of Lagos – October 24, 2022.
15. Federal University Lafia, Nasarawa – October 30, 2022.
In a chat with Prime Business Africa a lecturer in one of the federal universities who pleaded anonymity said that it has not been easy for the academics in the past months and now that the strike is called off, it is going to be quite challenging as the government is yet to pay their salary arrears.
One said, “the 8 months-long strike is now suspended, but it is noteworthy to know that the scorching negative effects still linger.
“To some extent, the situation appears to be worse, as even how to get to workplace alone, which is like a small issue, is now, challenging,” the lecturer lamented.
Another one who teaches Economics at a Federal University in South-South expressed worry that the government may renege on its promise just like it did in the past. In a chat with Prime Business Africa the lecturer, however, noted that with the turn of events it appears that ASUU’s struggle will not be a wasted effort if all promises are fulfilled.
“We had no choice since anything else would have amounted to disobeying a subsisting court order… But with this government, nothing is certain. We have been promised a lot in the past they were nothing but just promises. Our fingers are crossed,” the don stated.
On whether they have hope of getting their salary arrears soon, the don said the government promised to pay four months backlog with October salary and pay the remaining three months within the next three months starting from November.
Students worry about the academic burdens, cry about wasted accommodation fees
Students have also expressed concern about the negative impact of the long strike on them. Looking at the new academic calendar of one of the federal universities posted on a social media platform announcing school resumption, some students lamented that the limited space given between periods for lectures and examinations poses a heavy academic burden on them especially when they have been out of school for months, coupled with monetary challenges.
Some also lamented that the money they paid for house rent in school has expired requiring them to pay afresh.
“Omo the house rental fees we paid have expired, landlord won’t pity us; that we were on ASUU strike is none of their business. No landlord wants to hear that,” Charles Eze, A UNN student lamented in a chat with Prime Business Africa.
“Who will pacify us? Who will compensate us for the lost time, the wasted rents fees?” Another student, Paschaline, lamented on Facebook.