By Dikko Muhammad, PhD
I read the justifiable frustration of many people affected by ASUU strikes, most of them undergraduates with a few months to graduate but were stalled by the strike. Some have already missed the chance to attend law school this year. This is quite unfortunate. It is a waste that saddens every sensible person.
However, there are other victims of the strike who are mainly forgotten. Many people talk as if the strike does not harm ASUU members. They say that ASUU members will get their withheld salaries back at the end of the strike. That’s largely true. But there are other implications for many of these members.
First, the younger ones in the profession — Graduate Assistants and Assistant Lecturers, their progress is truncated by strikes. These are people enrolled in our universities for their master’s and PhDs, respectively. A few of them get the chance to study abroad. Majority study at home. Every strike means an indefinite pause to their studies, careers, promotions etc.
Before you say that the strike is their choice, please understand how ASUU goes to strike: each chapter (or university) will hold a meeting to decide whether to embark on strike or not. Every member present has one vote, whether a Professor or Graduate Assistant. A simple majority carries the day. That means a Graduate Assistant may vote against the strike, but those in favour could win by a single vote. At the national level, the results from the chapters are collated and studied. If there are 100 chapters, the decision of a simple majority will be the final verdict. So if 51 universities vote for the strike against 49, that’s the end.
These strikes inevitably affect the professional development of every academic staff. Some couldn’t start and/or finish masters and PhDs on time. That delay will manifest up to their retirement. Strike halts promotion exercises of many universities. People who aspire to be professors in their forties might be delayed into their fifties despite their conferences, publications, etc.
Thus, the strike is not as viable an action as many people seem to think. The lecturer you insult for being an ASUU member might have voted against the strike from the beginning. They might have been equally affected by the strike in terms of studies or promotion.
And these are people who don’t even talk about their predicament. Instead, they simply suffer in silence.
Dikko Muhammad wrote from Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.