Worried by the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, following the failure of the federal government of Nigeria to reach a negotiation with them, some students appear to have taken solace in different kinds of trade, even as some others complain of depression.
TNN met 27-year old Grace Ihunwo, a level 200 student of the University of Port Harcourt UNIPORT, pushing her wheelbarrow loaded with different kinds of cooked food.
Ihunwo, a native of Rumunduru in Rivers State told our correspondent how she narrowly escaped depression, took loan and started her cooked rice, beans, plantain, yam, macaroni business.
According to her, “I left secondary school in 2011, I wrote JAMB like eight times before I gained admission. When this strike started, I didn’t know it will last long like this, I thought it will be just two weeks or highest one month, but now see.
“Ah! I was seriously depressed. No, not to that extent of wanting to do anything stupid. I was really depressed and it resulted to migraine. Every day was very long while night was just like one-minute. I took loan from a deacon in my church and I have been doing this rice business with my wheelbarrow for like two months now. Yes, I am saving some money for school.”
Also, Karabari Barikwa, a Mass Communication student of Alex-Ekwueme Federal University expressed dissatisfaction over the lingering strike, which she described as a setback.
Karabari who was seen assisting her mother in the market said, “I am not happy about it, we’ve been at home too long, it will be difficult when we finally resume, some persons might not be able to cope, in fact some persons have gone as far as getting married, indulging in different businesses, so, it’s really a setback, the strike is really a setback, I don’t really feel happy about it.
“I am saying they should resume, ASUU and federal government should speed up with their negotiation and open the school because so many are seriously depressed and agitating that school should open.”
Gideon Bekwele, undergraduate at the Federal University of Technology Owerri FUTO, in Imo State said, “I am learning two things now because ASUU and federal government cannot frustrate me. I am doing laundry and learning how to repair car; mechanic, if the strike continues and I finish learning, I will look for another thing to learn.
“Yes, our leaders do not mean well for us at all, they don’t. APC governorship form more than 20 people bought it 100 million and they failed, wasted 100 million while we are languishing at home. PDP plenty people bought form, their children are studying abroad with our money and we are suffering here, suffering, course of four years, you will do it seven years, our leaders don’t care.
“I don’t blame ASUU, they are demanding their right and it is necessary, they deserve it, just that our leaders are wicked and they don’t care, they seem not to care about our future and the negative impact of this strike on us.”
Further, a lecturer in the department of English, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education IAUE, Rumuolumeni, Pastor Prof. Kontein Trinya advised those victimized, disadvantaged by the strike to, “well, from one’s spiritual perspective, this is a likely christian place and the bible says that in all things we should give thanks. It’s possible to find opportunities in certain challenges, one thing I say to students is to try and see what possibilities are being offered by the present challenges.
“Government have their share of blame in the management of tertiary institution. So, I want to say that they should use the opportunity to check other possibilities, I am saying get involved, get skills it reduces the boredom and depression that comes, offer yourself to do volunteer services.
“They said that necessity is a mother of invention, I think for some it should be a time to learn skills because it is getting to be that certificate don’t provide all the support that the economy would provide. In other cultures too, people live more by skills than their certificate, Nigerians are I think one of the most educated people in the world, so for me, I think it is an opportunity for people to learn skills, you can learn to drive, can learn to sow, can learn to do any hand skill, that is what I will say. That way productively engaged, it will litigate, it will reduce the trauma, the stress, the boredom, and all the suicidal possibilities that such depressions come with.
“Apart from using the opportunity to learn skills, I should also say all skills is not jobs, some are volunteer works that people would do, part of helping one’s CV is to offer free service, to offer to do a volunteer work; I am a teacher I just want to come and teach for free, come and do this intensively for little children preparing for exams, and so on, it adds to one’s activity, one’s usefulness and so on.”