The renewed showdown between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and the federal government of Nigeria has become a perpetual unwanted visitor in Nigerian universities for long now.
ASUU, perhaps, one of the strongest Unions of intellectuals in the federation has history of grounding academic activities anytime it’s agreement with the government reached dreadlocks.
As a pressure group of psychoanalysts and fearless individuals it lobby to ensure welfare of its members and protect their interests, advocate for improved educational standard and/or resort to strike to press home its demands. The strike is the ugliest nightmare of varsity managements, parents and students at large especially the graduating class.
At present, the effect of ASUU strike is eminent across the country. Students have been asked to go to their various homes. But in the Osun State University, Osogbo, Osun State, UNIOSUN, reverse is the case. The strike coincidentally clashed with the second semester examinations in the university.
Therefore, the management of the university, led by the Vice-chancellor, Prof. Labode Popoola resolved to go on with the examinations in spite of unbending stand of the academic staff in the university to comply with the strike directive.
The management devised means to ensure continuity and completion of the examination, contending that no serious management would close down school because ASUU is on strike and resolved to holding the examinations under the watch of Provost, Deans, Head of Departments, and Technicians across the campuses of the institution.
This was however greeted by reactions and frantic actions by members of ASUU in the university who wanted and still stand on total stoppage of the examination. In a report by Daily Post, UNIOSUN ASUU Chairman, Dr Abiona Oluseye, the Secretary, Dr Wande Olaosebikan and the Coordinator, ASUU Ibadan zone, Dr Ade Adejumo, the union decried the Provosts, Deans, Directors, and Heads of Departments who didn’t comply with the strike action.
The unionists pointed out that the strike action was to be total, comprehensive, and indefinite, which among other things include non-participation of its members in the conduct of the ongoing 2016/2017 Rain Semester examinations.
They did not only ask members of the union to shun the examination, they also questioned the examination arrangements due to the involvement of technicians among others, stressing that the arrangement is unacceptable even as they threatened that their members would not assess the examination answer booklets when the opportunity to do so presents itself.
Despite this, the management insists that the examination must continue. Not satisfied with the continuity of the examination, members of the union invaded examination halls in some campuses of the university and stopped students from writing examination, thereby steering panic and tension among the students.
Now, a large number of the students are calling for stoppage of the examination and even went as far as boycotting some of their examinations to avert mass failure. Their claim was that the management was forcing them to continue the examinations under pressure. Mr Jibola Oyekunle, the public relations officer of the university declared that the university management was not forcing the students to write examinations under duress and that it is the students that “are eager to complete their studies.”
The truth is, the students are divided and confused. Majority of the graduating students are eager to write their examinations under unconventional condition and they are scared too. This is not the same for a number of students in other levels. They are already frustrated, sick and tired of the continued cancellation of their examinations,impromptu re-arrangement and writing under pressure.
That said, what is not really pronounced about the happening is the fact that there is a serious breach of understanding between the management and ASUU. One must commend both the management and members of the union for managing the internal rancour diligently until the national strike was declared. Otherwise, UNIOSUN and LAUTECH would be at pal now.
ASUU general body has a calculated agenda. Apart from it accentuated demands, one of these is to strike at prime time. It had happened before and lasted for months. So, what’s happening at the moment is not new and of course, the unionists are concerned about impact and effect of their struggle. Hence, at present, they would never coperate with UNIOSUN management “to put things in the right order.”
And if the examination is eventually stopped, the confused students would know the essence of ASUU strike andexperience what makes it the ugliest of all. While the management stance is at the best interest of the students, that of the union is personal and at the same time not personal given the fact that advocacy for quality education is part of ASUU struggle.
Should the students fail to see through the good intentions of the management and support the arrangements put in place for them to complete their examinations under the unconventional condition, they would be the one to beg ASUU to resume or take to the streets to ask FG to settle its scores with ASUU.
At the same time, writing the examinations doesn’t guarantee the finalists automatic graduation. Their long essays, the examination booklets and other assignments to be assessed by academic staff, members of ASUU, would not be assessed by anybody other than them.
And against the purported claim that mass failure is ahead of the students, I make bold to say that the ball is in the court of the students. All ASUU want is to ground the examinations to boost the effect of the strike. Therefore, as the tussle is intensified and another examination time table is in place, it is up to the students to either key into the confusing, tensed, and unconventional arrangements or cue out and wait indefinitely till the strike is over.
Whatever their choice is, I wish them good luck and hope the management would revisit the ”newest of the latest” time table to allow the students enjoy sallah break on Friday. God bless UNIOSUN.
Written By Comrade Afolabi Ismail Marble