Travellers on the Sagamu-Benin and Akure-Ilesa expressways had a hectic time getting to their destinations as students blocked the ever busy roads in Ogun and Ondo states in protest against the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Motorists and commuters in Ibadan, Oyo State also had a taste of hardship caused by students who caused gridlocks on major roads in the city.
In Edo State, hundreds of protesting students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), turned the entrance of the Federal Secretariat in Aduwawa, Benin into a cooking arena, thereby making it difficult for workers to gain access to their offices.
A week ago, students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and University of Nigeria (UNN) blocked major highways in Ile-Ife, Osun State and Nsukka, Enugu State in compliance with a directive by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to commence the blockade of federal roads and airports over the strike which began February.14.
President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Sunday Asefon, had on May 10 declared a nationwide protest. after ASUU extended the strike by three months.
Asefon made this known following the ASUU’s announcement that it has extended its strike for 12 more weeks.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osekeke had said that the strike would continue due to government’s failure to “satisfactorily” implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the union in December 2020 on funding for the revitalisation of public universities (both federal and states), renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ ASUU agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Protest in Ibadan
The placard-carrying protesters from various tertiary institutions in the Oyo state, under the aegis of Concerned Student, marched from the entrance of the University of Ibadan through Bodija to Iwo Road, thus causing gridlock on the Ojoo -UI -Sango Road as well as Bodija Road.
Security agencies, comprising the Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Oyo State security outfit codenamed Operation Burst and Amotekun Corps provided security coverage to prevent the protest from being hijacked by miscreants
Their leader, Solomon Emiola said the incessant strikes by ASUU and other university unions had impacted negatively on education in public tertiary institutions in the country.
He called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, reach a permanent agreement with the unions.
Emiola said that the protest which started in some states last week would continue until further notice.
He added that they were not ready to be used by the UI Student Union Government(SUG) which wanted to take the protest to the Oyo State Government Secretariat.
“Why would a student union be playing double- standard which is against the future and progress of students?” he asked.
But the UI SUG President, Adewole Adeyinka, distanced the union from the Emiola-led protest, saying the “real one “ was planned to start today.
Adeyinka said: “Our own protest is slated for tomorrow(today) and we urge everyone to come out because we have a media demonstration, we shall converge in front of UI by 8 am tomorrow(today) and we are moving to Federal Secretariat in Ikolaba through Bodija market.
“LAUTECH students are coming to Ibadan for the protest, National Association of University Students (NAUS), Southwest zone is coming, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Oyo axis is also supporting the struggle.
“We have notified the Commissioner of Police, Director of DSS, State CID and other security personnel.”.
FUTA students barricade Akure-Ilesa Highway
The protest at the Akure-Ilesa Highway by students of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), left many motorists and commuters stranded.
The protesters sang solidarity songs and displayed placards with various inscriptions like: “End ASUU Strike”, “Save our future”, and “Stop Toying with our Future..”
President of the institution’s SUG, Abiodun Ibiyemi, said: that students ”can no longer bear the brunt of the feud between ASUU and the Federal Government”
Ibiyemi called “for a well-established resolution of the disagreement for the benefit of the students.”
Vice Chairman, National Association of University Students (NAUS), Ondo Chapter, Shittu Afolarin, said the strike showed government’s unconcerned posture towards Nigerian students.
Afolarin said “ “We have been at home close to 100 days and that is why we chose to show our grievances by obstructing the activities in the state and that is why we have come this long to block the federal highway.
“We are not leaving here until the government attends to ASUU and their demands.
“If it takes us three weeks we will stay until the government answers ASUU. They are just playing us. Our politicians have been obtaining forms, not N10,000 forms but a whooping sum of N100 million.”
Like the Ilesha-Akure Expressway, the Sagamu-Benin highway was barricaded by students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye; Tai Solarin University of Education, Science and Technology (TASUED), Ijagun and the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB),, Abeokuta.
Motorists and passengers were the worst hit by the development as they spent hours in traffic caused by the angry students.
The students also carried placards with inscriptions such as “ #End ASUU strike now#”, “ We say no to educational stagnancy”, “ We are tired of deadlock meetings” and “Education should not be this difficult.”.
NANS Chairman in the state, Damilola Simeon, appealed to the Federal Government to respond urgently to the yearnings of ASUU.
Simeon stressed that it was high time the government and ASUU reached a compromise to end the strike.
He said: “We have been clamouring since the commencement of this ASUU strike that something should be done with immediate effect, but both ASUU and the government are not listening to us.
“They have to understand the fact that Nigerian students will always be at the receiving end at the end of the day. Our students are suffering, our students are fed up. This whole issue is getting out of hand.
President, TASUED SUG, Don Ayomide, said the protest was necessary to let both the l government and ASUU be aware of the plight of students.
Students cook at Federal Secretariat Benin
The protest was however dramatic in Benin as students of the University of Benin, Edo State entertained themselves at the Federal Secretariat in Aduwawa by cooking and dancing.,
They declared that they had resolved to shut all federal offices in the state until the strike ended.
SUG President of the institution, , Foster Amadin, said they had informed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of their intention to disrupt the 2023 general elections in the state if the government failed to reach an accord with ASUU.
Amadin said: ”Many top officials of the Federal Government are busy strategising ahead of the 2023 elections, while education has been taken to an unserious level.
“We have written to INEC for its officials to know that elections will not take place in Edo State until we return to our classrooms.”
Rivers students shelve protest
Students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Rivers State, suspended their planned streets protest after meeting with the Commissioner of Police, Friday Eboka
The SUG Press Secretary, Forum Fred, said that Ebuka told them of a plot by some unknown persons to hijack the protest.
He, however, said they would dare all consequences and protest by the weekend if the strike by ASUU failed to end.
No plan by UNIOSUN to join strike
The management of Osun State University in Osogbo has denied the insinuation that the institution’s teaching staff was planning to join the ASUU strike.
“UNIOSUN has no plan to join the ASUU strike. Our students have resumed the rain semester academic session and lectures will commence very soon,” the institution said in a statement by its spokesperson, Ademola Adesoji.
Acting Chairman of ASUU in the university, Wende Olaosebikan, had told The Nation that his members would not join in the strike because the branch was under suspension by the national body.
Parents express worry
Some parents have expressed worry over the backlog of admissions arising from incessant ASUU strikes..
In 2020, ASUU went on a nine-month strike, the longest since 1999 and about two years later, it went on a four-week warning strike.
It declared another eight weeks strike, saying it was giving the government more time to attend to its demands.
Upon the expiration, it announced additional 12 weeks roll-over with effect from May 9, to the end of August.
However, due to challenges of industrial actions and the Coronavirus-induced break, most public tertiary institutions have backlogs of candidates yet to be officially admitted with the results of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted in 2021.
The new results released by the examination body will, therefore, constitute another backlog for many of these institutions.
The parents, who spoke yesterday, were concerned that the actions might affect the admission process for candidates who sat for previous and the just-concluded examinations.
One of them, Andrew Agada, said that his daughter was still awaiting admissions after successfully attaining a high score from last year’s UTME.
He said that his younger daughter also wrote the just-concluded examination. He said he was worried that the strike might also slow down the entire process or leave them stranded