By Fatihu Ibrahim Salis
It is with a great sense of depression I am writing this on behalf of thousands of “inconclusive graduates” yes, I am referring to the class of 2020 of Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil. We are inconclusive because we are yet to collect our statement of result. We sat for our final exam in October 2021. To date, we have not collected our certificates, thanks to the industrial action of the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU). However, we have seen our final year examination results.
The strike started in February 2022, four months after our final paper, which is more than enough time to compute our result and mobilise us for the mandatory one-year service to our motherland, which is the dream of any patriotic and faithful son of the soil.
Today marks almost a year of completing our studies without knowing our fate. We have tried our best to fight together and show solidarity to ASUU, but it seems it is not worth it since they cannot feel the trauma we are facing.
As a state-owned university, KUST is not related to IPPIS or UTAS battles because the staff’s salary comes directly from the state government treasury (I stand to be corrected). Hundreds of opportunities have slipped from our hands because of this action. Many of us have been confronted with life-changing shots, but unfortunately, we have no certificates to offer, although we have the required knowledge.
We have faced many tribulations during the long journey from our first year to our final year the annual strikes, the unrest saga, the one-year Covid-19-imposed lockdown, and the current strike, among others. What an irony; a five-year course has turned seven years with no hope in sight.
If I may understand them right, ASUU’s fight is for the protection of the educational sector from collapsing and emancipation of the University students from studying in challenging environments, and at the same time fighting for the well-being of their members. But now, with the continuation of the strikes, they are doing the government’s dirty work for them. ASUU, your fights to liberate our lives as university students (pardon me if I sound rude) have changed direction to deter us from attending classes. It seems you are helping the government pro bono by continuing the industrial action.
Education is not a privilege but a fundamental right. Yet, as Nigerians, that basic right has been snatched from us. As a result, our futures are deterred, and our progress is choked. We are not holding only the federal government responsible but ASUU as well.
With all due respect, ASUU’s timing for the strike is wrong. On the brink of the 2023 general election, the government’s focus is on the election, not education. ASUU should realise the bitter truth and suspend the strike. Withdrawing from a battle is another battle strategy to fight for another day. The association and the federal government should compromise for the sake of the Nigerian students who are hurt the most as the saying goes, “when two elephants are fighting, it’s the grass that suffers the most”.
The guiding philosophy of KUST is the provision of community-based education that will facilitate the production of graduates who shall fulfil the stipulated requirements in learning and character to graduate in their various fields of specialisation. The graduates shall also be groomed in such a manner that they will be able to function effectively in the community. The students have been groomed so well that we spend seven years in a five-year course, but we have been denied our certificates. We have been told that we only receive them after the ASUU strike, which has no hope of resumption.
As a state university student, I am very much aware of the contribution of the TETFund to our schools, which is ASUU’s brainchild. But this blind loyalty and solidarity to an association that not only consider you as second-class citizens but “quacks” should be halted. We are talking of our future, so remember the psychological and emotional effect the strike has on our lives.
Most of the graduates for the next batch of NYSC will be private university graduates. So indirectly, the masses have been kicked out of the struggle while the elites enjoyed a great monopoly, typical aristocracy restored. ASUU’s battle has denied many of us the opportunity to serve our nations. Most of us have reached the exemption age of 30, and a considerable amount is on the rim of the exemption age.
Finally, I want to call on the attention of all stakeholders to intercede on our behalf and call upon the school management to show us empathy. We are their children. They are our parents. We appreciate their fatherly support in our careers. Please, consider our future.
God Bless Nigeria
Fatihu Ibrahim Salis wrote via email@example.com.