Nigerian students under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Monday kicked off a nationwide protest against the continued strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The association said the strike would continue until the lecturers return to the classrooms, saying the disruption of academic activities on the campuses of both the state and federal universities has negatively impacted them.
The protests, which began at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and ended at the federal ministry of education, was led by the NANS president, Sunday Asefon.
The protesting students had demanded to see the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, but the NANS president told the protesters that he was sure that Mr Adamu was smuggled out of the office as soon as they arrived at his ministry.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as “End ASUU Strike Permanently Now,” “After Strike Government Officials Get Paid, Who Pays Nigerian Students for Time Wasted,” ‘Employment Comes with Age Limits,” “Age is Irreversible,” among others.
Addressing the students, Mr Asefon said the protest will continue on Tuesday at the venue of the ASUU-government conciliation meeting.
He said the students will not yield until the government and the striking lecturers reach an agreement and call off the strike.
The protest was also held simultaneously in other Nigerian cities including Kano and Ilorin on Monday.
The students also took to Twitter to express their grievances with the hashtag; #EndASUUStrikePermanentlyNow.
NANS had earlier threatened to confront both the striking lecturers’ union and the Nigerian government.
Mr Asefon said his union is not in support of any of the parties, and called for quick resolution so that they could return to their classrooms.
ASUU had after its National Executive Council meeting declared a four-week warning strike that began on Monday, February 14, to press home its demand for an improved welfare package, adequate funding of university education and what it termed proliferation of universities without solid foundation, among many other issues.
ASUU accused the government of constantly failing to honour the agreements it had with the union, and specifically the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it noted prompted the union to suspend its nine-month-old strike in December, 2020.
While the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said the strike was illegal because the union failed to notify the government 14 days before the strike, ASUU noted that it did not declare a fresh strike but a roll-over of the one it suspended in 2020.
ASUU said the strike was suspended on the condition that its demands would be met.
After a conciliatory meeting that lasted several hours last Tuesday, no success was recorded as the meeting ended in a deadlock.
Now in its third week of the four-week warning strike, both parties are billed to meet again on Tuesday. (PREMIUM TIMES)