Passengers travelling from Lagos to other states and other countries from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) on Monday were stranded and some missed their flights as the National Association of Nigerian Students blocked all roads leading to the airport.
The students who came out in their numbers protested over the lingering strike by the
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Apart from travellers, airport users, and motorists using the Ajao Estate link road to the International Airport, were stranded.
All major roads leading to the airport were blocked as passengers were seen in their numbers carrying their luggage on their heads under the rain and running to the airport to catch their flights.
Others who could not leave their cars behind were forced to turn back, deferring their travel plans.
“I was at the airport on Monday by 7.30am for an 8.30am flight to Abuja but I was at a spot for over one hour; so I had to cancel my travel plans and turn back home. I would have come down from the vehicle and walked down to the airport but there was no safe place I could pack my car. It was a terrible situation, I must say,” Donald Onyeka told BusinessDay.
Sandra Adekunle, another passenger, said she almost missed her flight as she had to walk a very long distance to get to the airport.
“Today was very bad for many people. I had to walk with my luggage in my head for almost one hour just to get to the airport because the students had blocked the roads from Ajao Estate to the airport, making it impossible for vehicles to move. I almost missed my flight as Air Peace was about to shut the boarding gate, when I arrived,” Adekunle said.
She also hinted that a lot of travellers, especially the elderly who didn’t have the strength for the long walk, had to return home.
Travel agents at the airport confirmed to BusinessDay that some people missed their flights that morning and had to reschedule.
“So many people have come to us to help them reschedule their flights because by the time they arrived here this morning, their flights had taken off,” a travel agent told BusinessDay.
Students stormed the area as early as 7am on Monday, as they carried placards and chanted songs, showing their grievances concerning the ongoing strike.
Oyinlola Oguntola, a post-graduate student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), said the protest was to urge the government to resolve the ASUU strike as students had grown tired of the current standstill.
“As for the international airport, this is the period international students are resuming in schools. So a lot of people are leaving the country to study abroad. Because they are not affected by the ongoing strike, they can still join the fight. It is only when people are uncomfortable that the need for a solution arises,” she said.
Adebayo Olatunde, a student ambassador of Nigerian University Games Association, told BusinessDay that the protest was necessary because the strike has lingered for too long and has been business as usual in Nigeria with no concern for the Nigerian students who have been waiting at home for months.
“The international airport is an important area because both local and international people use the facilities. It is a vantage position to showcase to the world the effects of the strike. If students can’t learn in their classroom, then a disruption in air transport is justified,” he said.
Stanley Alaubi, a senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, said as much as he sympathises with the people for the invasion of the airport, he described it as “a welcome development to curb the excesses of this government for their nonchalant attitude towards university education in Nigeria”.
Kazeem Alarape, a non-academic staff at UNILAG, also said the protest was a welcome development.
On the choice of the international airport, he said: “It is one of the economic hubs of the country; so going there is to draw both the attention of the government and of the international communities.”