Near-empty classrooms, idle business kiosk owners and roads devoid of human and vehicular traffic. That was the situation at the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) on Tursday as the industrial action declared by the Academic Staff of Union Polytechnic (ASUP) entered Day Three.
FIJ had reported the National president of (ASUP), Anderson Ezeibe, announcing the shutdown of activities from April 6, in orer to press for demands, including non-release of 10 months arrears of minimum wage to polytechnic lecturers, non-implementation of 2014 NEEDS Assessment report, among others.
At YABATECH, the strike action is biting hard on both students and small business owners on campus, FIJ observed during a visit to the school. Locations on campus such as the sports complex, the library and the hostels, which are normally beehives of human activity, were nearly empty.
Olumide, a Civil Engineering student, is concerned that the strike will elongate his scheduled number of years for his course of study.
“This strike will cause problems,” he said. “Courses of two years will take up to four years. There was the pandemic, lockdown, the school shutting down because a director died of Covid-19, and the #EndSARS curfew. It is like they are depriving us of a lot.”
Olumide’s view is shared by his friends, who sat with him at the library. They believe that lecturers downing tools raises doubs about the status of exams, initially scheduled to hold from the end of April to the end of May.
Damilare, who operates a business centre not far from the sport complex, estimates his daily loss as N15,000. Now, he is worried about rent and electricity bills.
“I don’t blame the lecturers for going on strike. How would someone work and not get paid?” he asked.
Another small business owner who does not want to be name is also concerned about the bills she would have to pay. Last year, the college authorityies gave business operators 40 percent discount on rent.
Akeem, the Class Representative of the Department of Statistics, ND One, told FIJ that many students in his class would leave the campus to go home tomorrow. Other students are determined to stay on campus until the end of the strike.
The Public Relations Officer of ASUP, YABATECH chapter, Babalola Akinola, insisted that the strike would not be called off until the government grants the 13-point demand because “the only language the government understands is strike”.
“The notice for the strike action was sent three weeks ago; the Federal Government did not deem it fit to call the leadership of ASUP to a discussion,” he said.
“It was on the day the strike was supposed to commence that they invited ASUP to a meeting. The Federal Government should learn how to do the right thing at the right time.”
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