Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

August 20, 2022

The 2022 strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is turning out to be one of the longest in Nigeria’s history. And even though this video marked a hilarious commencement of the strike in February, the situation is hardly as funny anymore:

When ASUU went on strike, the union said it was sick of the government’s attitude. And perhaps the worst thing about ASUU strikes is that nothing is ever really new. Many of the issues in contention are as old as Methuselah.

Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

ASUU is fighting for earned academic allowances, university funding, autonomy, and control over salary structure and payment.

Of course, the biggest casualty of this unending organ-measuring contest between two agbayas is the students who desperately need education. And they’ve been crying for both sides to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign.

What’s the status of the strike?

Even though ASUU has grabbed the headlines for strikes, it’s not the only school union on strike. The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and other Associated Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have also embarked on strikes along the way with their own lists of demands.

When providing a status report on the government’s dealings with the unions on April 18th, 2022, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said ASUU remains the black sheep of the family.

Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

According to the minister, all the other unions are set to call off their strikes but ASUU remains deep in its main character energy bag. 

And why exactly is ASUU still holding out in the negotiations? If the minister’s words are to be believed, it’s because the government has refused to pay them for the six months they’ve been on leave.

Compensation war

A journalist asked the minister what suffering students should look forward to as compensation in the middle of all the strikes. After all, it’s the students that sit by the sidelines and wait forever for the government and unions to tire each other out. 

But the minister was quick to dismiss the notion of the government owing the students compensation. He promptly passed that hot coal of responsibility to ASUU instead.

Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

What are students losing to ASUU strikes?

When ASUU strikes, the greatest loss for Nigerian students is time.

Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

If a student started university in January 2022, they’ve now lost six months of their first year to sitting at home. This already extends the number of years they’ll have to spend pursuing a university degree.

And if such a student paid a landlord rent in January, they’ve been denied the opportunity to use that service for six months and will have to renew the rent when it expires. 

Affected students also have to deal with low-level twisted banter like this:

Nigerian students take a lot of hits with every new strike. So it’s not ridiculous that the government and ASUU should consider compensating them.

The real claim to compensation

The claim to compensation isn’t even a new concept. After eight months of strike in 2020, the Law Students’ Association of Nigeria sued ASUU to return to work. They also asked the court to order ASUU to pay ₦10 billion to students as compensation for infringing on their rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.

They argued that the strike caused students psychological and emotional torture as it wasted their valuable time.

That lawsuit never went anywhere, but the argument was as true in 2020 as it is in 2022. If ASUU thinks it needs its members compensated for the six months they’ve not worked, then students have a big claim for compensation. It doesn’t even matter if that compensation is coming from ASUU or the government. So, it may be time to resurrect that lawsuit.

Generations of students have been forced out of classrooms by ASUU and the federal government for more than four years combined since 1999. That’s enough time to get a full degree. Yet, even when the 2022 strike ends, there’s nothing to show it will indeed be the end of the road for this endless conflict.

If Nigerian students will never be free of ASUU strikes, they may as well start getting something out of it. But more than the compensation, students only have one real demand:

Why Nigerian Students Deserve Compensation for ASUU Strike

ALSO READ: Will Nigerian Students Ever Be Free of ASUU Strike?

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