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Students urge Buhari to address ongoing industrial action in universities

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From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan and Lateef Dada, Osogbo

National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and other students groups, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and address the ongoing industrial action in the nation’s universities.

NANS Vice President in the South West, Oladimeji Adesoji, made the call, while leading other students, along with Adeyinka Adewole, students’ union president, University of Ibadan, on peaceful protest round major roads in the state capital.

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The peaceful protest was against the continued closure of their schools following the indefinite strike embarked upon by their lecturers.

The protesters, who initially converged on the University of Ibadan main gate at exactly 8a.m. later marched round the major roads, leading to the federal secretariat, causing gridlock.

The students barricaded some highways and shut down the federal secretariat at Ikolaba over the strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which began on February 14.

The protest led to traffic snarl around Orogun, Agbowo, Bodija, Agodi, Samonda and Sango, which caused gruelling experience for motorists, motorcyclists and commuters.

The protesters, who carried placards, demanded an end to the three-month-old strike. They wanted the Federal Government to yield to the demand of ASUU.

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They moved from Agbowo, through Bodija, to Ikolaba, and paralysed activities within the areas and their environs. All the roads leading to the main entrance of Oyo State Government secretariat, were also barricaded.

Addressing the students, Adesoji pleaded with the Federal Government to speed up actions toward resolving the lingering crisis between it and ASUU.

Adeyinka said about 40,000 students of the institution have been been at home doing nothing based on the strike. He said this became imperative because Nigerian students were already frustrated with the ugly development in the nation’s education sector.

Adesoji said: “Students are in total support of ASUU because they are the one fighting for our rights, and that is why university education should be revitalised. There should be a way in which Nigerian educational system will not be in shamble, not only during strike FG should be listening to ASUU.

“Initially, we were using social media platforms to make our voices to be heard and for over three months now, students have been idle and an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

“We can’t leave millions of students idle for that long and you expect peace and progress in the country.

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“We want the president to come out today and address us as a father and a parent, that is our first demand. Also, the Federal Government should increase the budgetary allocation to education to meet the UNESCO’s standard, which is 26 per cent.

“There should be frequent dialogue with ASUU that is a key stakeholder in the Nigerian educational system at the tertiary level, so as to identify the gaps in the system.”

The union leader said students would continue to stage peaceful protests until the government meets the ASUU’s demand it entered into with the body in 2009.

According to him, the protesting students would continue to occupy the federal secretariat, adding that efforts were on to turn classrooms on their campuses to playground if government failed to do the needful.

However, some directors at the secretariat later pacified the students to stay outside the gate, assuring them that their grievances would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

Also, Qudri Adeleke, NANS chairman in Oyo State, said expectation of students was permanent end to the recurring ASUU’s strike.

Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Students’ Affairs, Victor Olojede, said the Federal Government should come to terms with ASUU in ensuring students return to the classrooms.

Meanwhile, students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, have threatened that there would not be any election in Nigeria until universities are opened.

The students who barricaded Ife-Ibadan Expressway said they would not allow any election to hold while their institutions are shut.

Vice President of the students’ union, Grace Aworanti, who spoke to Daily Sun during the protest, said they were prepared to stop the coming governorship and presidential elections.

The students had been on protest since last Thursday and threatened to continue the protest until the Federal Government accede to the demand of ASUU and call off the strike.

“We want the Federal Government to fulfil the promise made to ASUU and we want them to open our school immediately.

“We are warning the Federal Government to open our schools or else we would continue the protest. No resumption, no election.”

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