By Adesina Wahab, Ademola Adegbite, Adeola Badru, Bashir Bello & Shina Abubakar
ABUJA—The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, yesterday in Abuja, walked out on students protesting the continued face-off between the government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, who have paralysed academic activities in the nation’s universities.
The students, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, had taken their protest to the minister’s office, clutching placards demanding a quick resolution of the crisis.
After a few questions by the students, who were led by the NANS President, Comrade Sunday Asefon, the minister angrily left for his office.
Commenting on the development, Asefon said: ”We only asked the minister one or two questions about what the government is doing to resolve the impasse, when he angrily left us and went inside. ”We are surprised at the development because as students, we are the ones bearing the brunt of the strike. We are going to hold a meeting to deliberate on the next step to take and we will get back to you,” he said on phone.
Protest in Oyo
Meanwhile, protests by students calling on the government to find a solution to the matter took place in some major towns and cities across the country.
In Oyo State, the B Zone of NANS, yesterday threatened to block all federal roads in the state, if the crisis was not resolved.
The students at a peaceful demonstration held at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan, carried placards with different inscriptions such as: “FG and ASUU: Stop the madness”; “Incessant ASUU/FG face-off, a demonstration of craze”; “At the end of every strike, only students lose”; among others.
The Southwest Coordinator of NANS, Comrade Tegbe Steven Fiyinfoluwa, who addressed newsmen after the protest, vowed that the association would block all federal roads, starting from today, if the government and ASUU failed to reach an agreement, yesterday.
He said: “We are holding our peaceful demonstration here today (yesterday) Monday, because of the lingering crisis between ASUU and federal government which has been a recurring event over the years. Unfortunately, we students are at the receiving end.
“We are calling on the federal government to learn how to respect agreements. We have seen on many occasions when the federal government and ASUU reached an agreement but the federal government failed to fulfil its part of the agreement. We are also calling on ASUU to have a decisive way of spending their resources, even when their demands are met.”
Protest in Kano
In Kano, the students, who stormed the Ministry of Higher Education situated in Gidan Murtala, also carried placards and chanted solidarity songs.
The students, led by Yazid Tanko Mohammed, said they were always at the receiving end of the face-off.
Mohammed said: “ASUU has been going on strike since 2009, and students are always the victims of the strike. We are not benefiting from the strike. Instead, we are always at the receiving end. Imagine, a programme that is supposed to last for four years will take up to six years. And the one meant for five years will take up to seven to eight years,” Mohammed lamented.
Responding, the Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Mariya Bunkure, who was represented by the Director, Academics Planning, Musa Gambo, assured the students that the Ministry would convey their message to Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He appreciated the manner the students conducted themselves peacefully during the protest.
Protest in Osun
Some students in Osun State, under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students and Joint Campus Committee, NANS/JCC, Osun axis, yesterday stormed the streets in the state capital, Osogbo, protesting the FG\ASUU debacle.
Addressing journalists at Oke-Fia, the Chairman, NANS/JCC, Osun Axis, Comrade Oyelayo Afeez, said the protest was to make ASUU and FG realise that their action was at the detriment of students, who paid to access education.
“We are demanding an end to the incessant dispute between ASUU and the FG, it affects students. We are paying to access education in Nigeria, yet, government and the union seem not bothered about our situation,” he said.
Meeting of the two parties
Meanwhile, another round of meeting by the two sides is slated for today in Abuja.
The government’s team is expected to include the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, and his Labour Ministry counterpart, Dr Chris Ngige, while the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, will lead the union’s team.
Their previous meeting did not achieve much, as the union accused the government’s delegation of not preparing for anything and acting as if they were not familiar with the issues in contention.
ASUU had been on strike since February 14 because of the failure of the FG to renegotiate the 2009 agreement, the replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, IPPIS, with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, as the payment platform in the university sector, among others.