Aggrieved students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) took to the streets in Ibadan, Oyo State, to protest the face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They threatened to disrupt the Independence Day celebration on October 1, if the Federal Government fails to meet ASUU’s demand.
The strike, which was embarked upon by ASUU members, is in its third month.
Commercial activities were paralysed in Adamasigba, Mokola, Oremeji, Sango, Samonda and the University of Ibadan (UI) where the students marched.
There were long queues of vehicles on the roads. Motorists were stuck for several hours while the protest lasted.
The students, some of whom rode in buses and walked in a long procession, bore placards, handbills and posters with various inscriptions, such as “Yar’Adua, you are wicked”; “Nigeria is rich enough to fund education”; “We are tired of staying at home” and “Join protest rally on October 1”, among others.
They are demanding the immediate signing and implementation of agreements reached with ASUU; adequate funding of education; payment of N40, 000 cost of studying allowance to all Nigerian students in tertiary institutions; democracy in all schools through involvement of elected representatives of student and staff unions in all decision-making organs in the education sector and reinstatement of all expelled /suspended student leaders and sacked staff activists.
Other demands include public ownership of the commanding height of the economy and its placement under the democratic control/management of elected bodies of the working masses, immediate removal of Education Minister and immediate recall of nine sacked lecturers at the Oyo State College of Education.
The protesting students canvassed support for protests in Lagos and Edo states on October 1 to press home their demands.
The Chairperson, State Task Force on Traffic Control and Management, Mrs Sybil Funmilayo Akinfenwa, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), led a team of policemen to monitor the protest.
The students’ spokespersons, Jolapamo Bolanle and Yomi Balogun, called on parents and other well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on President Umaru Yar’Adua to sign the agreement between the Government and ASUU so that the strike would end.
Bolanle said: “We have been forced to be at home since June 22, 2009 due to the Federal Government’s unwillingness to seek resolution to the strike embarked upon by ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT. The action is to compel government to fund education adequately and improve the working conditions /remunerations of staff.
“In this wise, we cannot blame the unions for the ongoing strike.The culprit is the government that has refused to fund education adequately despite enormous resources Nigeria is blessed with.”
Balogun, who is NANS spokesman, said: “We must take the battle to the doorstep of the Yar’Adua government and that is why we are mobilising students to gather at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Secretariat, Yaba, Lagos and UNIBEN Gate, Benin City on October 1 to press home our demands.”
Source: The Nation