The protesting students were members of the Zone D of NANS.
The fanfare associated with annual Independence Day celebration was punctuated by a mass protest staged by the Zone D (Southwest) of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in Ibadan on Tuesday.
The students, who came out in their hundreds, blocked some major roads for about three hours, protesting the protracted strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Chanting anti-Federal Government slogans, the protesters said they were unhappy with the government’s ‘insensitivity’ to their plights as the government refused to accede to the demands of the university lecturers, leading to shutting of the institutions across the country for over three months.
The protest started from Agbowo around 9.30 a.m., and proceeded through Mokola Roundabout, Total Garden, Agodi-Gate, and terminated at the Iwo roundabout interchange.
Police officers were seen at strategic locations around the protesters to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
Monsuru Adeyemo, NANS Southwest Coordinator, in a communiqué, said there is urgent need to save Nigeria’s education sector from total collapse.
“As a result of poor government funding, inspite of stupendous wealth of the country, Nigeria’s public education, from primary to tertiary levels is bedevilled with lack of adequate facilities for proper teaching, learning and research. Hostel facilities in the few schools where they still exist are dilapidated and insufficient, that is why over 10 million children are out of school in Nigeria.
“Only this year, about 1.7 million candidates sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and from the available space in all the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country only less than 29 per cent of the total candidates will be admitted, thus leaving out over 1.2 million candidates,” he said.
Mr. Adeyemo urged the striking university lecturers to embark on nationwide mass action, adding that their demands were centred on proper funding to improve university education in the country.
“We have to actively join the struggle to force the government to implement the agreement with all unions so that tertiary institutions can be reopened. If this agreement is fully implemented, it will mean better funding of education and a great relief to overburdened students,” said the student leader.
Among their demands read to the gathering on Tuesday was the outright rejection of the committee headed by the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswan, to negotiate with the striking lecturers.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently said the government could not fully implement the 2009 agreement with the lecturers, thus indicating that the strike could be prolonged.