In the last 16 years at least, OAU is mostly known for its foolhardy strike actions more than for its academic excellence. If the lecturers weren’t on strike, it would be students or the non teaching staff. Usually, the only losers of the lot were the students whose 4 year degree turns out to be 5 year if they were lucky.
One thing I have learnt about our love-hate nation that is Nigeria is that looking up to the government to solve all our problems is never the best strategy because calling on the government is like calling out ‘that black girl’ from a crowd in a place like Nigeria where everyone is black. Well, people would try to explain different shades of blackness but that never hold water.
Around 20th of November 2015, speaking to a friend at the school, he was very happy with his progress, lectures have been running smoothly for a while. He entered OAU in 2012, had witnessed several school closures for many reasons – from local elections to student protesting against tuition increase.
Strike ranges from 2 weeks to several months, the longest he had experienced was 6 months. Nigeria post secondary schools – Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and universities across the country are known for going on strikes but OAU campus is the mother of all.
Now in 2015 he is in year 3 second semester. If things were to run the way it was meant to, he should have been in his final year working on his thesis.
November 30 at 9am he texted to say students were protesting against awful hostel conditions At 7:30pm, he texted again to say the school management is threatening them with closure if protest persists.
So I asked what is going on at the school or in town in the next few weeks because if history has thought me anything about school closure especially at OAU, there is a pattern, sometimes it makes absolutely no sense, but that is just how it goes. In early December there is a plan for convocation and another big event in town – OAU administrators have never learnt to separate the school from events in town/state.
For example, in the past, OAU closes its campus for a whole day so GEJ could campaign, it closes door during last NUGA (games the school hosted meant to inspire students) – yes, some actions beat any sensibility.
Pack your load and plan for Christmas trips – your school will close, I said jokingly.
On December 2nd, OAU announced school closure and the management wanted the students off the campus the very next day.
This strike action call by the OAU management was done with no regards whatsoever to the welfare of other people whose works support the smooth running of the school – the independent stores at the New Market and SUB such as bookshops, restaurants, photocopiers, provision stores etc.
To summoned school closure given only a couple of days notice just three weeks to Christmas undoubtedly leaves tens if not hundreds of people to leave their day job does not indicate a school management with thorough assessment of implications of their actions on neither the students nor their community.
There is assumption that school management are the best to judge situation and that their actions usually is the right one, however, looking to the past history of strike actions, it is mostly about management avoiding to do what they are paid to do while making sure there’s minimum negative impact on the students and the community whose services support the smooth running of the school.
OAU resumes back tomorrow Jan 11th after six whole weeks of pay without work – best wishes to the students and the independent store owners.
Whether strike actions was initiated by the academic, non academic staff or the students – the only people missing out are the students and the independent store keepers – my question is who is looking after the interests of these people?