Education

Strike: Nigerian students barricade roads in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo

The protests by students of tertiary institutions against the prolonged strike by university workers continued on Monday across major cities in the Southwestern region of the country.

Of the six states that make up the region, four witnessed mass protests by the students, on Monday, even as they barricaded major roads and highways.

They obstructed both human and vehicular movements, as they called on Nigerians to advise the government to resolve the lingering crisis with the workers’ unions and reopen the universities and other campuses nationwide.

The strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which commenced on February 14, clocked 92 days on Monday.

The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) had also followed suit about one month after.

The workers’ grouse revolves around issues of poor welfare packages, revitalisation of the universities, and the alleged imposition of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) on the workers as a payment platform for their entitlements.

Efforts by the government including last week’s “tripartite-plus” meeting chaired by the chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, a professor, is yet to yield the desired results.

University students in four out of six states of the South-west have taken to the streets blocking federal roads in the region over the prolonged ASUU strike.

It was based on the continued shutdown of the institutions that the students across various institutions mobilised to the streets in Ondo, Oyo, Ogun and Osun States, to voice out what they described as frustration as a result of idleness imposed on them by the strike.

The protesters, however, did not engage in violence but refused motorists the right of way.

In Ogun

Students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye; Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun, blocked both the Lagos-Sagamu and Benin-Ore expressways in Ogun state.

Under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), student protesters had last week commenced a series of protests by blocking the Obada axis of the Lagos- Abeokuta highway.

During Monday’s protest, frustrated motorists reportedly abandoned their vehicles on the road and sat under trees by the roadsides until the students later removed the barricades.

Many travellers were reportedly stranded, even as some complained in frustration while others were said to have joined the angry students in protest.

Meanwhile, the students pledged to reopen the blockades by 5 p.m but warned motorists not to ply the routes on Tuesday.

The protesters threatened that the Lagos-Ibadan expressway will experience a total lockdown on Tuesday, May 17.

On the placards, the students wrote: ‘End ASUU strike’, ‘Don’t let us help you end Nigeria now’, ‘We won’t allow you to waste our lives, ‘Please be responsible, FG expedite action’, among others.

Speaking during the protest, the chairman of NANS, Ogun State axis, Damilola Simeon, appealed to the government to save the situation before the “worse happens.”

He said: “We cannot fold our arms and watch while our future is being technically rewritten or disrupted by some unscrupulous elements.

“This is becoming too much and silence seems not to be an option anymore. They had three months to themselves and they still have the effrontery to allow ASUU to extend this needless strike by another two months.

“At the moment, the leadership of NANS is still ensuring sanity even in the heat of this protest. We are begging them to ensure that this strike is brought to an end before things go out of hand.”

OYO

In Oyo State, the protesters including students of the University of Ibadan (UI) also blocked UI-Mokola road, with road users subjected to hardships.

Police officers reportedly protected members of the public and the protesters and guarded against confrontations.Advertisements

Photos of protesting students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Federal University of Agriculture, FUNAAB and Tai Solarin University of Education, TASCE, in Ogun state.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Monday, a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the students’ union UI called on the government to reopen the university as soon as possible.

The statement which was signed by the president and the general secretary, Adewole Yinka and Bamidele Paul, said the union threw its weight behind the striking ASUU.

It said by deploying deliberation, negotiation, which it noted led to the signing of the memorandum of understanding and memorandum of actions, the workers’ union had tried to live by the rules of engagement.

The statement read in part: “We as students have watched these developments with shock because it seems we have been abandoned by successive governments despite the promise of free education.

“Nigerian students have been trapped at home for nearly three months, and going by its inaction, it appears that the government is out to frustrate our ambitions and aspirations.”

It called for an urgent reopening of the universities to avoid total paralysis of activities across major sectors of the economy in the coming days.

Ondo

Also in Ondo, students of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and their counterparts from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) and Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, blocked the Akure-Ilesa expressway.

In Akure, the president of the students union, Abiodun Ibiyemi, said: “We can no longer bear the brunt of the feud between ASUU and the federal government.

”We call for a well-established resolution for the benefit of the students. Remember that our future is being challenged by constant and lingering strikes.”

Osun

For the umpteenth time, the students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, again on Monday trooped out and blocked the Ibadan-Ife expressway as well as the Ife-Ilesa roads.

The students mounted a roadblock with tyres at the Oduduwa University, Ile-Ife (OUI) end of the round and made life difficult for the travellers along the route.

The roundabout in front of the university where the protesters blocked leads to both Ile-Ife and Ilesha from travellers from the Ibadan axis. They insisted that the road will remain closed as long as their universities are closed.

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on the phone, Eruobami Ayobami, Osun State axis chairman of NANS, said the protest would continue every day until the universities are reopened.

He said: “What ASUU wants is not too much to ask for. Or is it bad to ask that your country’s educational sector be funded? NO! a responsible government must be up and doing.

“We shall continue to show the federal government that we are displeased with this unnecessary strike until we are allowed to return to our classes.” Premium Times)

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