A strike by university lecturers in Nigeria, which shut down state universities for eight months, was called off Friday following a court ruling and the intervention of leading figures, including the parliament’s speaker.
Union leaders say their demands over pay, welfare and crumbling facilities, have not been addressed but students are happy to be returning to the classrooms.
Ahmed Dingoli Muhammed a student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Kaduna State said: “I sincerely feel very happy that the Federal Government and ASUU (Academic Staff Union of University) have been able to come into negotiation terms to call off the strike.
“It is very good for us, at least we can resume back to our classes, we can kick-start our learning process, we can start our academics very proper and everything.”
James Kure, a student at the Nasarawa State University, added, “My rent has expired and I stayed in school for three months. So, for the rest of the nine months, my rent went without me being in school. And then we are behind schedule; they are talking about competing with the private schools and private sectors, we should have been rounding up our first semester 200 level right now.”
The latest strike was the second longest by ASUU and union members say their demands have still not been met.
Professor Anthony Igyuve, a lecturer at Nasarawa State University, said: “It is the responsibility of the government to honor the agreement that they willingly entered into with ASUU and perhaps with other university unions as well.
“If the government is faithful to such [an] agreement there wouldn’t be any incidents of [a] strike.
“So I think, better tell the government and its agencies that they should be faithful to the agreement that they have reached with ASUU, so that the incessant strikes, as you have put it, will cease in our university system.”
Nigeria faces many challenges, including growing insecurity and falling oil revenue, as well as high debt payments, weak national currency, inflation, and high unemployment.
Those issues will be in focus as Nigerians go to the polls in February to elect a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who will step down after two terms in office.