by Orowo Victoria Ojieh
Tertiary institution students in the country have taken to the streets on monday to block major roads in Oyo and Ondo States.
This was done in protest against the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Students have staged rallies in these states to express their dissatisfaction with the ongoing strike, as part of their efforts to bring the Nigerian government and academia to a sensible conclusion after several failed negotiations by both parties.
While protesting students of the University of Ibadan blocked the school’s entrance in the state capital, those from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) barricaded the major road where the institution is situated in Ogbomoso. LAUTECH students also called on the state governor, Seyi Makinde, to ensure public universities in the state back out of ASUU just as it was done in some states for academic activities to resume.
According to them, LAUTECH has been through a series of industrial crises in the past and should not be made to face more hardship. Students of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, Ondo State, barricaded the Akure-Ilesa Highway, protesting the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The action of the students forced many motorists and travellers to be stranded, many commuters travelling along the Ife/Ibadan expressway were delayed in Ile-Ife because varsity students blocked the road in protest.
The protesters were chanting different solidarity songs and displaying placards with various inscriptions. Some of the placards read, “End ASUU Strike”, “Save our future”, “Stop Toying with our Future”.
In Oyo, some of the placards are addressed to the state governor, one of the placard read, “Gov. Seyi Makinde save our future, rescue LAUTECH”.
The protest came a week after NANS president Sunday Asefon declared nationwide protest. A mass action tagged ‘Operation Test Run’ in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Asefon made this known following the Academic Staff Union of Universities announcement that it has extended its strike for 12 more weeks.
NANS leadership also condemned the strike extension by ASUU and had directed all its members to block all federal roads in protest against the continued shutdown of public universities in the country since February.
”The national action tagged “Operation Test Run” shall be held in all the 36 states of the federation. Federal roads across the 36 states shall be occupied for a minimum of three hours”.
On February 14, ASUU began a four-week warning strike to stress its demands. Some of the demands that led to the industrial action include renegotiations of the 2009 agreement, payment system for members, and revitalisation of the public universities, among others.
ASUU extended the action by another two months on March 14 to give the government more time to address all of its demands. Last Monday, the union’s president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said the ongoing strike would be extended for another 12 weeks.