“Something really funny happened in class today. We were all waiting for the lecturer, only for him to call the course rep to tell her that he won’t show up because he was not able to get fuel for his car. I mean, can’t he take a cab to campus, or must he go everywhere in his car?”
You turned to see a bright-eyed girl giving the gist to another girl who you’re guessing is a big sister to her. It was quite obvious that Stress 101, Frustration 107 – and other similar, unregistered compulsory courses that must be ‘four-pointed’ by every Uite – have not touch her yet with the characteristic rigours of their toxic romance. You could tell she has it all planned out, and she already knows when she’ll bid the university community and the undergraduate status goodbye, bags in hand and certificate in a folder. You were equally amused by and sorry about her obliviousness to how she is in no place to make such plans.
If only she knows that she might end up getting her bachelor’s degree as a married woman when Nigeria begins to happen to her plans.
“It’s like you don’t know anything yet. You really expected your lecturer to take a cab to campus to lecture you people? Is it so that you people will not die if he doesn’t show up, or what?” her gist partner replied. “That could even have happened at any other time, but not at this period when ASUU is considering going on a strike.”
“Wait o, are they really serious about this strike of a thing? Can’t they pity us freshers that have not even had our matric yet?”
At this point, you didn’t know either to laugh or not, as her question was funny but you knew laughing would have been a callous thing to do. Her gist partner didn’t feel the same way, though.
“Pity?” Gistie laughed. “Eeyah, Pele, my dear. Welcome to the club. You can’t expect these people to keep working without getting paid when they have responsibilities, children to cater for and other things to do with money. Plus, the federal government never seems to do anything about their unpaid salaries and other entitlements except they go on strikes.”
“Is it the federal government that pays their salaries?” Bright-eyed asked.
“Yes now. Or you think it is the Twenty Two Thousand Naira you paid as school fees that will pay the salary of a professor? Why do you think private universities are very expensive to study at?” Gistie went on. “You don’t know that you are no longer in a secondary school where it is your school fees that pays your teachers’ salaries. Here in federal universities, your lecturers are on the federal government’s payroll.”
You began to wonder how you happened to know this – as well as other things you’re often surprised at how people need such explained to them – when you were a fresher. That’s probably because you’ve always been an avid reader.
“So, our matric will not hold if ASUU should strike?”
“Well, that depends on the school management since your matric is meant to hold on Monday, and the strike won’t take effect until then even if it finally happens.”
“Will we have to go home if they end up going on strike?”
“Of course. Halls of residence, especially female halls in this UI, will not even waste time before they send all of you packing.”
“How long are we now going to stay at home?” Bright-eyed asked.
“It is only God that knows that one sha. That’s one thing about ASUU strike. You might not even be able to do things like getting a job, as you can get a job today only for the strike to get called off tomorrow. It is how fast the government…”
You zoned out, thinking about how the strike will be a blessing to you if it should happen, even if it’s just for a month or two, as that will give you the much needed time to hustle for money to pay your school fees and settle some other things.