According to a report by Sun News, the many students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State and the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State, yesterday, staged a protest against the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Last Monday, ASUU had added another three months to the strike, meaning if nothing is done students would be at home for another three months.
The students who barricaded major roads in Ile-Ife carried placards with inscriptions such as “Fund Education Now,” and “Education is not a Scam” among others.
Converging under the aegis of the Fund Education Coalition, the students blocked major roads and obstructed vehicular movement for hours chanting anti-government songs and observing prayers on major highways. They accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of neglecting education and focusing on who succeeds him in 2023. They vowed to continue the protest until the government accede to ASUU’s demand and end the strike.
One of the protesters, Olugbade Mojeed, said the strike had forced some students to engage in vices. “We are protesting because government has failed the education system. This government has been showing nonchalant attitude to education while they focus on electoral activities. We say no to incessant strikes and we say no to lack of funding for the education system.”
Also, students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) in Nsukka, grounded human and vehicular movement in the university town and its environs.
The protest started from the first gate of the university through Enugu Road to Opi junction where the protesters blocked the 9th Mile Makurdi Express Highway for many hours making movement in and out of Nsukka town difficult.
The over 3,000 protesters sang solidarity songs while some had placards with inscriptions, such as, “Is it a crime to be a student in public institution in Nigeria?,” “No suspension of ASUU strike no party primaries”, “We are tired of staying at home, FG should settle with ASUU so that students will go back to school”, “FG and ASUU are playing politics with our future”, “Politicians have N100 million to buy election form but FG says no money to meet ASUU demands,” among others.
Leader of the protesters, Emmanuel Obi, chairman, Joint Campus Committee (JCC) Enugu State, said NANS would sustain the protests across the country until ASUU suspends the strike.
“The NANS national leadership has directed students in the country to block airports, major highways, Federal and state secretariats, minsters offices and road leading to Aso Rock by next week,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has again appealed to ASUU to consider the plight of students and call off the three-month old strike. He also urged students to exercise patience as government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the available resources
Speaking at the 19th National Productivity Day and conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors, for their high productivity, hardwork and excellence in Abuja, yesterday, he recalled that he had earlier directed the Chief of Staff; Ministers of Labour and Employment; Education; and Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to again critically look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU and other university based labour unions.
He said his administration recognises that the future of any nation is contingent on the standard of its educational system.
‘‘Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority.”
•Parents, NUT task FG, ASUU on agreement
Some parents have called on the Federal Government and ASUU to reach a workable agreement so that university students can resume school.
The parents in separate interviews said the strike was having negative impact on their children and appealed for its speedy resolution. Silas Lagi, a parent in Gwagwalada Area Council, who said his child is studying veterinary medicine at the University of Abuja, lamented how the strike had made his son shift focus to other things that he did not budget for.
A parent in Abaji Area Council, Mr. Musa Gimba appealed to government to listen to ASSU and reach an agreement to save the future generation of Nigerians.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) also urged the government and ASUU to embrace peaceful dialogue to end the ongoing strike.
Mr Samson Oyelere, secretary of the Ogun Chapter said it was important for both parties to meet at equilibrium point and proffer solutions that would be beneficial to both parties.
He explained that the strike had a negative effect on the students, the institutions, communities and the economy.