The extension of over 80 days strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has sparked outrage and condemnations across the country.
ASUU rose from a meeting in Abuja, yesterday, and announced an extension by another 12 weeks. ASUU had been on strike for 11 weeks. A one-month warning strike was announced on February 14, and it was thereafter extended by eight weeks in March.
A statement by ASUU’s president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, said the extension was to give the Federal Government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.
However, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Omoyele Sowore and Otunba Gani Adams have described the prolonged strike as a declaration of war against Nigerian students.
NANS President, Sunday Asefon, in a statement, registered the frustration of students who have remained at home for over three months due to the lecturers’ industrial action.
He said failure of the Federal Government to reach an agreement with ASUU underscores its lack of concern for the plight of the common Nigerians who cannot afford to send their wards to private tertiary institutions.
He announced the decision of NANS to launch a mass action nationwide to register their displeasure with the situation.
“Having exhausted all window of constructive engagement with the government. I, on behalf of the national leadership of NANS, therefore, declare national action from Tuesday, May 10. The national action is tagged, ‘Operation test run’ and it shall be held in all the 36 state of the federation. Federal roads across the 36 states should be occupied for a minimum of three hours.”
Asefon said it would serve as precursor to a total shutdown to be decided during NANS senate meeting/pre-convention on Saturday May, 14.
“Our decision from the pre-convention shall be binding. The action shall be total as the extension of ASUU strike is a direct declaration of war by the Federal Government against university students in Nigeria. Our proposal to congress on May 14 shall be total blockage of airport roads across the country and total disruption of political parties’ primaries, blockage of the National Assembly until they are committed to passing legislation banning public office holders from sending their children to universities abroad.”
He, therefore, advised divisive elements or paid agents of government to steer clear of the actions by students.
Asefon called on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to join the students in salvaging the public tertiary education in Nigeria.
But ahead of the planned NANS’ action, students from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma (AAU) and Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, yesterday, barricaded the gate of the Benin Airport in protest over the protracted industrial action
Their protest led to traffic gridlock along the Benin Airport road. The students in their large number also moved to the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Edo State council to register their grievances.
Addressing newsmen at the NUJ secretariat, the Students Union Government’s (SUG) president, Foster Amadin, said the students felt frustrated with the strike, which was yesterday extended to August.
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