Members of the South East zone of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and their counterparts in Ogun and Oyo in the South West region have given the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) a nine-day ultimatum to open all public universities in Nigeria.
While the coordinator of NANS Zone F (South-East), Mr Moses Onyia, gave the ultimatum in a statement released on his behalf by his chief media aide, Lillian Orji, yesterday in Enugu, Comrade Kehinde Damilola Simeon, the chairman of NANS Ogun axis and Comrade Adeleke Qaudri Abidemi, chairman NANS Oyo axis, threatened to block the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway if their demands were not met.
They lamented that the strike embarked upon by ASUU and other unions had not received the sincere attention of the federal government.
Last Monday, ASUU, extended its three-month old warning strike by yet another three months. The union had embarked on a nationwide warning strike on February 14, 2022.
The industrial action was aimed at pressing home its demands which include revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution for payment of university lecturers.
The statement said that the government and ASUU should do the needful before nine-days, adding that failure to do this within or at the expiry of this ultimatum would only leave students with the last resort of taking a drastic measure.
According to the statement, from May 20 to May 25, 2022; after the expiration of the ultimatum, they would take up measures that would see Nigerian students of the South-East extraction in their numbers blocking one of the major entrances into South-East – The Niger Bridge.
It said: “We will also block all the three airports in the South-East, which included: Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu; Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri and Anambra Passenger and Cargo International Airport, Umeri, Anambra.
“Thus, halting all movement to and from these axis of the South-East.
“It is our hope it does not get to this point, but when we are pushed to the wall, we are ready to hold the bull by the horn. Emphatically, we remphasise once again that government should show a commitment to the oath of protecting the interest and welfare of Nigerians and Nigerian students which they swore to.
“We enjoin all students in the South-East to remain law abiding and peacefully but stay at alert and be on the lookout for instructions from its leadership as events unfolds. When it becomes inevitable, the call to action will be made.”
It said that with the extension of ASUU strike for additional three months which would make it a total of six months, Nigeria’s tertiary institution students would be forced to stay at home unproductively.
The statement noted that this was also coming at a time when the children of most politicians and top government functionaries are enrolled in the best universities overseas receiving uninterrupted studies.
It said: “We will no longer keep quiet nor pretend all is well because we are no longer at ease.”
On his part, Abidemi said, “It is unfortunate that two of the leading personnel in the negotiation with the staff unions are busy parading themselves as presidential aspirants rather than focus for optimum service delivery in the assignment before their office.
“This has raised our worries as a body that the federal government through the minister for labour and minister of state for education careless about the academic life of Nigerian students that have been put on hold due to the strike embarked upon by all the staff unions in our universities.
“We have taken into consideration the options before us. This has drawn us to the reality after due consultations and engagements that we must apply the legitimate instrument of force within our reach. Therefore, we have resolved to mobilise our forces in a protest to demand for an end to the strike by the unions.
“In view of this, our solidarity is with the unions since our interests as students cannot be mutually exclusive of the interests of our lecturers and other university staff. To this, we shall be staging a protest on Wednesday, 11th of May, 2022 to block the Lagos-Ibadan highway to demand for an end to the strike actions. This is therefore a clarion call to all Nigerian students, civil societies, and mass of people to join us at the barricade,” the statement said