#Strike101 ‘Tola’s story

On July 1 2013, The Academic Staff Union of Universities decided to embark on industrial action due to the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 Agreement reached with the Union. Most of my colleagues and I expected the strike action to last no longer than two or three weeks at the most. The month of July went by without any seeming end in sight to the strike action. By August, it began to dawn on me that the end was not anywhere near in sight. That was when I knew that I had to find something to do during the waiting period. The question then became what could I do.

 

My highest qualification was SSCE which almost every job seeker holds. Meanwhile, my mother offered me employment in her school to help audit bank tellers and balance the accounts. Since I wasn’t particularly good with figures, I was not too enthralled with the prospect. Then I joined an online community on Facebook called Volunteer in Nigeria. Since I have always wanted to do a bit of volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) after my education, I felt it was a right step to take. This was arguably one of the best things that happened to me during this strike period because of the numerous opportunities they brought my way and the amazing people I got the opportunity to network with over the last couple of months.

 

In October 2013, I was a participant in LEAP Africa’s Youth Empowerment Programme sponsored by Shell Nigeria and we were exposed to a variety of ideas ranging from Social Responsibility to Missioning and Visioning. The lessons I learnt there gave me the resolve to do more in terms of individual social responsibility. And so from October to December 2013, I spent my break volunteering with LEAP Africa for SIPA 2013, Fate Foundation’s Annual Celebration, Friends of the Global Fund for Africa’s VCT/HIV Week, Slum 2 School’s Xmas In A Box Tour and Love Project’s Community Outreach. I also participated in The Excellence in Leadership Conference, Unilever Nigeria’s Campus Learning Workshop and a host of other seminars and programmes.

 

All in all, I think I can group my strike break into 2 periods; the first period is between July and September when I was waiting for something to happen while the second period is between October and December when I actually made things happen. Volunteer in Nigeria really did a lot in terms of making me utilize my strike break productively. I got information about many of these programmes and volunteering opportunities from their blog and Facebook group.

 

After about 170 days at home, the Federal Government and ASUU finally reached an agreement and the industrial action was finally called off. Resumption dates for most institutions have been announced. I would be headed back to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun state, to continue my academic pursuit in January 2014 but one thing I am sure of is that I am not going back the same person who came to Lagos in July. My horizons have been broadened, paradigm shifted and my mindset changed. I have become a better Nigerian!

 

‘Tola Oladiji is studying Medicine at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, Nigeria. You can connect with him on Twitter via @GodConscious1

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Want to send in your own story and share with us how we are helping to make you a more responsible Nigerian? It’s easy! Leave us a post or message at our Facebook page.

 

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Announcing #Strike101 #actioncounts #IVD2013

Hello family!In our passionate quest to make life better for people, we have encountered countless young people who have no idea what to do with their lives during a waiting period. Examples of waiting periods include the current strike period which has lingered for about one two three FOUR months. I try not to think that four months is one-third of a year but every time I put my brain back on, I realise that’s a dangerous amount of time for a youths to remain idle (in -ember period).In fact, a little bird told me you felt crime rates spike.

We chose to feel enormous pressure during this past four months. What we did? We put in great and resilient effort into creating more opportunities for engagement and keeping our community abreast of meaningful information on workshops and other career development events. The result? Many of our members confess we have made the period easier to handle! Events like the Unilever campus workshop and LEAP/SNEPCO Youth Empowerment Programme saw very many of us in attendance. Currently, a number of us are on the Huawei ICT training programme or registered for the next batch. Have you registered? We were also able to get quick unpublished jobs for some from friends of our project. Have you enjoyed any of these opportunities? Kindly leave us a comment.
We believe that action counts.
In the spirit of the International Volunteer Day to be celebrated December 5, we are asking university students to volunteer to share what they have been doing since the  universities’ strike began with us. We also welcome other people who have witnessed waiting periods to tell us how they productively seized the season. This includes professionals at all levels and former university students. Do you know anyone going through a waiting period? What advice did you give?

We believe that sharing experiences is a great way to influence attitude and help others deal with the ‘situation’ a waiting period can be.

Are you ready to influence some other person’s life? Take action now:
-Head over to our Facebook page and tell us what you did during your own waiting period
-Alternatively, you could add us as a friend and share it in a note with us tagged.
We’d be sharing the most inspiring responses. Be sure to join in via #Strike101.
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