Students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, on Thursday blocked Ile-Ife-Ibadan expressway to protest the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other trade unions on university campuses in Nigeria.
The protesters, under the platform of “End ASUU Strike Coalition,” said the protest would continue until the Nigerian government and the striking workers end their dispute and reopen the universities.
As of the time of filing this report, the students in their hundreds were on their way to Ibadan-Ilesa expressway, near Oduduwa University.
In some of the video clips of the protest obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the students said they were not afraid of the security operatives, and threatened to remain on the road until the universities are reopened.
They expressed their frustration over the continued strike by the workers, and said they were disappointed that politicians could show the effrontery to continue politicking ahead of 2023 general elections “as if all is well.”
“You have money to obtain electoral forms but no time to open our schools, and you think all will be well with you all?” one of the protesters said in a video.
Another, who spoke in Yoruba Language, said; “This is Osun and not Lagos, no soldier or policeman can kill us here. Let them come and meet us here.”
Meanwhile, their counterparts in Ogun State under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Wednesday blocked the Lagos-Abeokuta highway, causing traffic gridlock for motorists.
The students blocked the express road at Obada axis of the highway, carrying placards and chanting anti-government songs.
The protest left many motorists stranded as travellers were helpless.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “End ASUU Strike now”, “Enough is Enough”, “Nigerian Students are suffering” and “FG, listen to ASUU”.
The protesters who told our reporter on the phone that they would take a break on Thursday, threatened to return to the roads on Friday, in continuation of the protests.
Apart from ASUU, which extended its three-month-old strike by another three months on Monday, other university workers unions – Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have been on strike for more than one month.
Their demands include improved members’ welfare, the release of revitalisation funds for the universities, and the replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as payment platform by those they created.
They said IPPIS is inconsistent with the peculiarities of the university system, and alleged that its deployment has encouraged fraud rather than curbing it.
Meanwhile, the chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari, is scheduled to chair a “tripartite-plus” meeting with the striking unions at the banquet hall of the state house by 4 p.m today.
However, PREMIUM TIMES reported that ASUU leadership said it has not concluded whether it would attend the meeting or not.
The union, according to its president, Emmanuel Osodeke, would appraise the matter today.
This newspaper is aware that ASUU is claiming that its matter cannot be discussed “in an open market like the meeting being called by the government.”
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