The expression on the face of 22-year-old Mike Ugbodu on Monday conveyed a feeling of disillusionment. He looked every inch worried. All of a sudden, his chubby face seemed to have shrunken with anxiety. Ugbodu, otherwise known for his lively nature, looked quite lonely. In fact, he was not in a mood to talk.
Of course, it is not surprising that the young man looked this desolate and disturbed. Having scored high grades in the last Universities Matriculation Examination, he looked forward to writing the post-UTME at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria last August, to enable him to secure admission to study Micro Biology in the university.
However, five months after the UME and now a few weeks to the date fixed by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to end the admission process for 2013/2014 session, nothing has happened. Indeed, this young man’s dream has not come to fruition following the industrial action embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff of the Universities. The strike is frustrating his effort to write the post-UTME in ABU.
“When will this rigmarole end? When will ASUU and the Federal Government resolve their differences?” were all that he managed to say to our correspondent.
But the situation, is not peculiar to the Edo State-born potential microbiologist.
Kabiawu Wasilat is in a similar situation with Ugbodu. Wasilat, who wants to study Mass Communications at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, is equally not happy with the situation in the nation’s university system. Her hope of securing admission to the OOU has been threatened following the ASUU strike. According to her, the July initial date fixed for the examination did not work and till now the authorities of the university have not fixed a new date.
The story of Ugbodu and Wasilat is a tip of the iceberg in comparison to the anxious thoughts on the minds of many Nigerian students seeking admission to the nation’s universities in the 2013/2014 academic session. Many admission seekers, who applied to study in institutions such as the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State; University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria are practically stranded as the institutions have still not conducted the post-UTME.
The concern is coming on the heels of a directive last week by JAMB that all universities must conclude their post-Universities Matriculation examination by October 31, 2013. The fact that the “academic hub” of the system, the teaching community, is on strike further compounded the situation.
University lecturers embarked on nationwide strike on July 2 to protest against the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement they reached with the Federal Government. They are also seeking the payment of their unpaid allowances.
While the FG has released N130bn to meet some of the demands of the striking teachers, the ASUU President, Dr. Nassir Fagge, likens the money to a drop in an ocean of requests.
A professor of Education, Ademola Onifade, assessing the development, says the JAMB directive may cause more confusion in the education sector.
Onifade, who teaches at the Lagos State University, Ojo notes, “Why is JAMB giving this directive now that ASUU members are on strike? It is obvious that with the ongoing industrial action, there is no way we shall round off the current academic year on time. So, why are we in a hurry to bring in the new students? It is just to add to the confusion.
“JAMB needs to allow the universities to resume first. For sure, there will be no fresh admission until we are through with the current academic calendar. Therefore, the directive is just to add anxiety and confusion as well as to put pressure on the university authorities.”
The Vice President, the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, Alhaja Munikat Idris, also shares Onifade’s belief.
She notes that though the other non-teaching staff could help in the admission process, there is need to follow due process.
She adds, “I think that the admission process should not be done in a haphazard manner. I would rather advise the FG to appeal to the university teachers to return to classes.
According to an education consultant, Mrs. Ify Anatune-Nwobosi, the responsibility of setting and conducting examinations in the university lies with the teaching staff.
She warns that now that members of ASUU are on strike, the situation may result in an admission crisis in the affected institutions.
She says, “The responsibility of organising and conducting examinations is in the hands of the teaching staff. I, therefore, urge the FG to intervene in the crisis to bring normalcy to the sector. Let us not involve the fresh students in this face-off and further jeopardise their future.”