ASUU Strike: Students To Miss Law School As New Session Begins

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Nigerian university law students who were scheduled by the calendar to be in this set are going to miss out on the process due to the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.

NLS released a circular last week calling for applications for admission into the school for the October 2022/2023 academic session.

The recent strike, which has been on for five months, seems to have no end in sight considering that the federal government and the union are yet to come to a compromise.

Meanwhile, some final-year law students who spoke to Media men expressed their disappointment in the system, saying they were long overdue to graduate from the university but for the incessant strikes.

A 500L Law student, Musa Haruna Bawa, who was scheduled to be in the Nigerian Law School by October this year but cannot due to the ongoing strike, said over 300 of them will be missing out.

“And this is only in BUK, you can add the number of ABU, UDUS, and other federal or state universities that joined the strike,” he said.

He said the “most worrying and annoying part of the strike to me is when I and most of my colleagues saw the circular of the NLS for the intended applicants.

“It became a topic of discussion among us. We are supposed to be in the NLS by September 2022, but unfortunately, we missed it. Even if ASUU called off the strike now, we can’t make it to the NLS this session unless by the end of 2023 and to start by 2024 or thereabouts,” he said.

Bawa recalled that the strike started a week before his first semester exams. “Going by the practise of our school, inasmuch as we are done with the first semester exams, we are not going on a semester break but continue with our academic issues. And when the general students are on mid-semester break, we will commence the final year exams to meet with the guidelines of the NLS in respect of application to the school.”

He said at the beginning of the two-week warning strike, “I was pleased with it, because throughout the said weeks I was doing nothing but reading my books with the expectation that the strike may end within the stipulated weeks.”

“Unfortunately, two weeks elapsed and the ASUU announced additional weeks,” he said, adding that he had to keep all academics aside and remain focused on his daily business, as plan B.

Bawa, however, expressed confidence in what ASUU is doing because it is for the betterment of Nigerian students. “You can see many students taking lectures on the floor with no working fan, AC, or heater when the weather is cool. Though they have their own interests, they prioritise ours over theirs.”

He called on the authorities to meet the demands of ASUU, and for President Muhammadu Buhari to keep to his word of getting lecturers back to classes.

For Yusuf Emiola, a final-year law undergraduate and the Head, Bayero University Law Clinic, the ongoing ASUU strike has caused him a lot of psychological, financial and emotional stress and constraints.

Emiola, who started studying Law in 2016 with the expectation of graduating by 2021, unfortunately, the incessant ASUU strike, which initially happened in 2020, disrupted the academic calendar and it became impossible for him to graduate that year.

“I was about to start my 1st-semester examination in February 2022 when this unfortunate strike started. Mind you, my due year to enrol in the Nigerian Law School is the 2022/2023 Academic Calendar, which has been scheduled to start by October this year (according to the circular released by the NLS).

“This, by implication, means I and my other colleagues from the university will not be going to the Law School this year,” he lamented.

He said they have automatically become juniors to their contemporaries from other institutions who would be eligible to enroll, adding that the legal profession is built on seniority, which is determined by the year of graduation from the Nigerian Law School.

“My hope of becoming a legal practitioner before 25 has vanished right before my eyes and there’s literally nothing I can do to salvage it. I just want both parties to apply consideration to whatever they are doing. Where two elephants are in conflict, it’s the grass underneath that suffers the most, which is what we are facing right now,” he said.

“We want our lives back. Both parties should remember that millions of Nigerian lives are at stake with whatever decisions they are making,” Emiola urged.

According to him, in the Law Clinic he heads, they regularly take up cases of indigent pretrial detainees, which they prosecute in court through their pro bono lawyers.

“We were scheduled to take up new cases but the ASUU strike made it impossible as most of our student law clinicians are from various parts of Nigeria and they had to return home. Many innocent indigent people who depend on our services to get justice are suffering from this strike,” he added.

He hoped the strike would end soon to enable them to take up their cases, as that is their own way of contributing to the decongestion of correctional facilities.

Another student, Halipa Magaji, said it is very unfortunate that education has been reduced to such a condition, which is capable of demoralising many students, especially at the tertiary level.

“We are labouring under the sadness of missing law school admission for 2022/2023 and if care is not taken, we might miss this academic session due to the indefinite strike of ASUU,” he said.

“We were supposed to be the last set for the Bar ll final exam last year. If you recall, we spent almost 11 months during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which necessitated the suspension of academic activities and other day-to-day activities at large,” he said.

Magaji berated the federal government for being careless with the education sector and prioritising political affairs over the public interest without knowing that students are part of the people who brought them to power.

“We are highly disappointed by the efforts of this government. We youths are willing and able to vote for those who would prioritise our interests and not their personal ones,” he added.

“Mr President’s statements on the ASUU strike showed clearly that he is unaware of the strike and he’s not ready to meet their demand while they are entitled to it all or what they have requested as public servants,” he said.

While lamenting that the government focuses only on lucrative sectors like oil and gas, aviation and others and abandoned the most vital sector, educational sector, he urged the federal government and ASUU to show compassion on Nigerian students especially those in public tertiary institutions to call off the six months old strike action.

“It’s an overwhelming issue that the government spends huge amounts on running their day-to-day affairs, political activities and even the election with an amount exceeding the demand of ASUU,” he said.

Another student, Hauwa Ahmad Muhammad, said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the circular recently released by the Law School. The most painful aspect is that we are supposed to have graduated in 2021, but here we are in 2022 and even at that there is no hope for us.

“Welcome to Nigeria, where your year of graduation will be extended while you keep increasing in age and our government sets an age limit for employment,” she added.

She said as it is now, she has no hope of becoming the kind of lawyer she intended to become as she has no plans of her own now.

She said both parties should not consider their own interests only, “they should put themselves both in our parents’ or guardians’ shoes.

“ASUU, on one hand, should be realistic about the economic situation globally; this is a very wrong time for them to demand that all their needs must be met.”

While urging students to make good use of the time to read extensively, she appealed to law firms to encourage applications from law students to do internships.

Reacting, a Professor of Law at BUK, Nasiru Adamu Aliyu, said the ASUU strike is causing a lot of problems for Nigerian students who were supposed to be in law school.

Prof Aliyu who has also taught for 15 years at the NLS, said the Bar II admission is not a waste because there are a lot of backlogs and Bar 1 students, those who studied abroad who have completed their own studies and possibly those who failed previously and also reapplied.

“The problem is that with those who have done the Bar I and done the courses required, you cannot tell them to wait because Nigerian students are not ready. The strike is causing problems for children of the commoner because the children of the elite are the ones studying abroad,” he said.

He said another implication is that their mates would become their seniors in the profession.