ASUU STRIKE: A NOTE TO MY UNDERGRADUATE FRIENDS (by guest blogger, Chimaobi Ugoala)

First, you have to note that you are in good company. ASUU strike did not start with you and may not end with you. So you might have to brace up and shed that abiding optimism that the strike will be called off soon.
It may not be so. Therefore you have to prepare for the long haul just in case.

As an undergraduate under the hawkish Obasanjo regime (as civilian president), I witnessed two ASUU strikes. One lasted for 6 months while the other 4 months. Initially, majority of us needed the strike, just to have a break from the suffocating lectures, assignments and term papers. Two to three weeks after, we were yearning to resume school. We then became automatic newshounds, scrambling for every piece of news on ASUU-FG negotiations, and of course roadside negotiators too, analyzing and apportioning blames between the two combatants.

By the end of the first month as the strike dragged on without any hope of resolution, our optimism has turned a blistering frustration. The boredom was biting hard. Family tensions and uneasy parent-adolescent relationships were resurrected, threatening to develop into a fracas yet none of the belligerent combatants was showing any sign of standing down. We cursed under our breath as we reminisced school days and idealized our friends (oh how we missed them especially in the absence of social media then). By the end of the second month, we had completely relapsed into a secluded resignation. The strike may as well last forever.

In all of this, we the students were the ultimate losers. ASUU will eventually force the FG to either sign agreements they don't intend to honour or hand them out some enhanced package akin to a placating tokenism. We, the students bore the brutal brunt of the needless feud with our academic calendar ruthlessly distorted and our expected graduation time elongated. Worse of all, a portion of our lives has been wasted. That's the point of this whole write-up. This is a time that can be easily wasted.

ASUU and FG can distort your academic calendar, elongate your convocation date but don't allow them to waste your life. Employ this time wisely. In doing this, you basically have two options – You either engage in some brisk entrepreneurial activities and make some money for yourself or you maximize this time for aggressive self development.

I will vote for self-development, after all its ultimately more rewarding in the long-run. Its curriculum has never changed, it comprises the usual fundamentals – read as widely as you can (you can make that a bit more strategic by focusing on areas of your comparative advantage and long-term interests), listen to as many audio tapes as possible, enroll for training on acquisition of vital skills and if you can, go for conferences and workshops.

You also need to know that you have some new enemies now and they are neither ASUU nor FG. They might be friends you usually engage in idle chit-chatting with, the truckload of DVD films you've acquired or borrowed, the cable news channels, with engrossing soaps and addictive reality shows and yes, the social media. Flee from your enemies.

Finally, this period might be the most exciting and rewarding time of your life or it may turn out to be the most frustratingly boring. Goodnews is – the choice is yours.


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