BusinessDay

ASUU strike: Students’ protest escalates, as UNN, OAU, others join

The wind of students’ protest over the shut-down of public universities following the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike has spread to many tertiary institutions in the south-east and south-west.

Students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in Enugu State, and leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) were seen on the major road linking Nsukka and Enugu town with placards demanding an immediate end to the ASUU strike.

Many commuters were held in the traffic for hours as the protesting students blocked the highway leading to the state’s capital from Nsukka suburb.

Similarly, students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in Osun State took to the highways, barricading the Ife-Ibadan expressway thereby subjecting vehicles and commuters to untold hardships as they were not allowed to move to their destinations on time by the students protesting against the lingering ASUU strike.

The protests both in the south-east and south-west resulted in travellers being stranded as the blockade caused traffic jam.

Ben Okana, the national director of contact and mobilisation of NANS told journalists during the protest at Nsukka that their message is very clear. They want the federal government to reach an agreement with ASUU and ensure the universities are reopened for classes.

‘’We are going to shut down the entire nation if the ASUU strike is not called off. Our next target is Aso Rock. We will make sure Aso Rock is crippled so that the president himself will feel the impact of what we are doing on the streets,” he said.

Most of the students said they were tired of staying idle at home, and regretted that the politicians who would want to rule the country channel such huge amounts they are using to obtain nomination forms into resolving the impasse between ASUU and the federal government.

Read also: OAU students protest ASUU strike extension

The students vowed to continue the protests till their demand of addressing issues raised by ASUU and reopening universities was met by the federal government.

Recall that on Tuesday, May 10, the students of the University of Lagos were on the streets in a peaceful demonstration over the ongoing industrial action embarked by the lecturers for over three months and the federal government’s nonchalant attitude towards the impasse.

Students of the University of Benin, Benin City in Edo State and their counterparts at the University of Ibadan, in Oyo State, and the University of Ilorin in Kwara State had earlier taken to the streets to demonstrate their grievances over the lingering strike.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the striking lecturers to consider the plight of students and call off the ongoing strike.

The president also urged students in Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions to exercise patience as the government strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the ambit of the resources available.

Besides, the president said his administration recognised that the future of any nation was 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,’’ he said.

The president reiterated that he had earlier directed his chief of staff, ministers of labour and employment, education, finance, budget and national planning to urgently bring all parties to the negotiation table again, and censoriously look at the grey areas in the demands of ASUU, among others.

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