The ongoing strike by the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities may have seriously affected the students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Investigation shows that the majority of the students, who are currently preparing to sit their 2016/2017 Second Semester examinations holding in a fortnight, are at the receiving end of the union’s nationwide industrial action.
Many of the students who spoke to our correspondent on Monday complained bitterly about not having electricity, water and access to the university’s library and health centre due to the strike.
In the absence of electricity, they are forced to study with the aid of candles and torches. Some of them have had to endure long spells in the cold harmattan weather to read under the solar energy-powered street lamps on the university campus.
A student of the OAU’s Faculty of Agriculture, Saheed, blamed the university authorities for not making adequate preparations before asking the students to resume.
“I am currently feeling pains in my eyeballs. I was forced to start reading with candle light since last week. In the Awolowo Hall where I live, we don’t have light and water. I am frustrated already because I cannot afford to have an extra year. You still have to read in this poor situation as we have been having tests vigorously,” he said.
Also, some other students, acting under the aegis of Education Rights Campaign, described the current situation living condition on their campus as pitiable and inhumane.
In a statement issued by their Acting Coordinator and Secretary, Dunnex Samuel and Damilola Amethyst, respectively, the students accused the school management of insensitivity.
The statement read in part, “We condemn the insensitive nature displayed by the school management regarding the resumption of students to hostile and life-threatening conditions.
“It is not only cruel, but it is also barbaric for an institution of learning that prides herself as one of the best in the sub-Saharan Africa to accommodate over 35,000 students in an environment that is devoid of health care services and electricity and a non-functional library amidst preparations for an d examination.”
When contacted, the Chairman of Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, OAU branch, Comrade Wole Odewunmi, said that the striking non-academic workers in the university could hardly help the situation.
“As you know, the students are our children and we wish to help but we are incapacitated by factors beyond us. The situation may change any moment from now and it may also get worsened,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, OAU branch, Dr. Caleb Aborisade, confirmed that the environment was not conducive for both members of staff and students.
“Our congress has not met to say anything on this. But, personally, a good parent should not allow his/her children to stay or take examinations in this kind of situation,” he said.
When contacted on the telephone, the Public Relations Officer of OAU, Mr. Biodun Olarewaju, appealed to the students to bear with the university management.
He said, “We want to appreciate our students for their readiness to learn and read for their examination. The university management is not resting on its oars as we are putting machinery in place to ensure that there is electricity.
“Within our little resources, we try to provide electricity by fuelling our generator with diesel; but if those things – generators, cables etc – have faults and those responsible for their repairs are on strike, there is nothing the management can do.
“It is a peculiar case. The students should please bear with us. There is a likelihood of another crisis if we bring people from outside to come and fix the spoilt generator.”