Undergraduates from public universities in Edo state under the aegis of ‘University of the Street’ (UNISTREET), on Monday defied heavy rain in Benin City, as they took to the street to demand an end to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The ASUU strike, which is in its third month, is in continuation of their call on the Federal Government to honour the agreement reached with the striking lecturers.
The students, selected from the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, said the strike, which has lingered for near three months, has disrupted their academic calendar and delayed the completion dates of their respective degree programs.
Aggrieved with the impasse between the Nigerian government and the academic body, the students besieged the Oba Ovonramwen Square, thereby halting vehicular movements from adjoining roads like Akpakpava, mission, forestry, among other roads.
They urged the Federal Government to resolve the ASUU strike permanently and invest in education, noting that government-owned universities are the only system that serves the children of the masses.
Foster Amadin, President of the Students Union Government (SUG) of UNIBEN, said the strike was suffocating the dreams of Nigerian students while the government is going about their electoral processes and the striking lecturers are going about their individual businesses.
“We want to express our grievances as regards the ongoing ASUU strike because we have stayed at home for over 79 days. The truth is, we are not for ASUU neither are we fighting for or against anybody, all we know and all we want is to go back to our classes.
“We don’t want to stay at home any longer. We are stagnated academically. All we want and all we are asking for is that we want to go back to our classes; we want to learn and graduate.
“Most students are about 30 years already. When they are already 30, they find it difficult to get a good job, they can’t even participate in the compulsory one year National Youth Services Corps (NYSC), and when you are asking for a job, they will tell you to bring your NYSC discharge certificate”, Amadin said.
Abumere Joseph, a student of Ambrose Alli University, said: “For the past three months, we have not attended classes, and I am supposed to graduate but as it stands now, I don’t think I will graduate. I have been in one level for close to two years and it is not good.
Also speaking, Idiahi Thomas, national vice president, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), faulted Nigeria’s educational sector, saying “our leaders have bastardised it. Nigerian students are at home yet government officials are busy purchasing forms for over a hundred million naira; an amount presidents in other countries do not earn constitutionally throughout their tenure.
“So, we are calling on the Federal Government to do the needful. Nigerian students are tired of the ineptitude attitude of the government. We are in a situation whereby a course that is supposed to take four years for the undergraduate will now take seven years while for a master’s student who is supposed to round off in two years or eighteen months, will now take you four, five or even six years,” he added.
(Adapted from a report by Business Day)