“I’ll graduate two years later”

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If all goes according to plan, Rukkaya (24) should finish studying finance in September and become “The first girl to graduate [sa] the family”, his parents’ big dream. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and repeated strikes have undermined the ambitions of the young Nigerian, who has been enrolled at the University of Lagos (Unilag) since the end of 2018. In the last two years, Rukkaya has not had many opportunities to visit the huge green campus, which is located in the lively neighborhood of Yaba, in the heart of the Nigerian megalopolis.

In 2020, the incarceration was caused by a health crisis linked to a teachers’ strike that paralyzed the public university from March to December. A year and two months later, on February 14, 2022, a new strike movement was launched again on the initiative of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the main trade union of university teachers, founded in 1978.

Read also: In Nigeria, abandoned students face an indefinite strike by teachers

Again, the demands relate to higher salaries, university funding and better equipment. This applies to all federal universities that admit most Nigerian students. Private higher education institutions and faculties managed at the regional level continue to operate.

“I will graduate at least two years later, if not more!, Rukkaya is worried. Who will want to hire me after that? » According to her, some employers set an age limit for hiring, thereby disqualifying many students from federally run universities.

“No one is motivated anymore”

“The number of days lost because of these strikes it’s overwhelming,” points out Jibrin Ibrahim, a researcher at the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja, in a column published by an online newspaper Premium Times. Almost every year since 1999, federal universities have been paralyzed for a few weeks or a few months, he mentions, such as in 2009 (four months), 2010 (five months), 2018 (three months) or 2020 (nine months). .

According to Jibrin Ibrahim, the result of these stalemates is always the same. Every movement “ends with a deal in which the government commits to providing universities with significant additional financial resources, but never pays out in full what it promised”. describes the researcher, himself a former executive director of ASUU: “The result is anger, warning strikes and generally organizing very long strikes, every two years. »

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