ByÂ Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”COMMERCIAL activities in Benin City, Edo State capital, were grounded yesterday for several hours when a coalition of civil society groups, students and organized labour thronged the streets protesting what they described as the sorrowful state of education in the country.
The protesters, who carried coffins and placards that read: â€œSam Egwu must goâ€, â€œ Assembly members, save our children by screening UBE nomineesâ€, â€œYarâ€™Adua do not turn our children to robbers and prostitutesâ€, condemned alleged unconcerned attitude of the Federal Government towards finding solution to the on-going strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Also, Chairman of Izon-Ebe Community Task Force, Alaowei Afro Biukeme, called on the federal government to end its face-off with striking university lecturers, lamenting that the educational system had decayed so badly that the nation cannot afford further strike in the educational sector.
However, the protesters, under the aegis of Gani Fawehinmi Movement for Good Governance, made up of the leadership ofÂ Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), One Love Foundation,Â African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), National Association of Edo State Students (NAESS), including primary and secondary school pupils, also stormed the state House of Assembly Complex where they urged the lawmakers to reconsider their position in the screening of the nominees submitted to it by the state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
They urged the House to urgently reconstitute the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), so the state could access the almost N5 billion counterpart fund in the Universal Basic Education scheme.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the state chairman of the NLC, Comrade Kaduna Eboigbodin, who tagged the protest â€œBlack Day for educationâ€, said there was imminent danger in the country due to the collapse ofÂ the education sector.
ANEEJ stated:Â â€œOur country, Nigeria is at a cross roads. The continued closure of Nigerian public universities as a result of the four months old on-going nationwide strike embarked upon by members of ASUU, the two weeks strike of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) demanding the implementation of Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) are clear signposts of a failing state with decayed social sector, which public educational institutions at primary, secondary and tertiary levels signposts nationwide.
â€œThe current situation is clearly a product of bad governance which has led to the continued widespread corruption with devastating consequences on basic infrastructure, with the rich getting richer and the poor suffering untold hardship.â€