Vehicular movement in and out of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State, was on Tuesday disrupted as protesting students of the institution locked the university’s entrance gates over what they described as the “refusal” of the university management to meet their demands for improved hostel facilities, among other demands.
The protesters, who were led by the public relations officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone B, Utibe Ekanem, grounded activities at the university’s campus in the state’s capital and caused gridlock along Ikpa road in the capital city.
Mr Ekanem said the action was necessitated by what he described as the refusal of the university management to respond to the students’ union’s demands, saying the management “turned deaf ears to the students’ pleas”.
He said; “We wrote a letter to the vice-chancellor after a tour of the university facilities on the January 4, 2022, and we requested the renovation of hostels, fumigation, provision of mosquito nets for students and the suspension of the use of the Skyline platform for payment of faculty and departmental dues.
“The management has refused to respond to these demands. None of these things have been done since that day up till now. It’s been two weeks.”
He said another letter was sent to the vice-chancellor, Ndaeyo Nyaudo, as a reminder and with a five-day ultimatum to attend to the demands.
“As a union, if in the next five working days the above demands of ours are not met, we shall be left with no other option than to seal up your facilities as the welfare of our members is paramount at resumption of school activities,” the letter, which was dated January 10, 2022, and a copy of which PREMIUM TIMES obtained, reads in part.
University pleads for understanding
Meanwhile, addressing the protesting students, the vice-dean of students’ affairs, Essien Akpanuko, said the management has noted the demands and appealed for the reopening of the locked gates to allow vehicular movement.
He promised that all the identified issues would be addressed.
The official said; “I agree that some of these things raised ought to be done and can be done without the gates locked. My only request at this moment is that you open these gates so that people can go about their legitimate businesses. We will begin to address the issues practically.”
He noted that the students had not exhausted the available measures of negotiation.
“The locking of these gates or all the other gates here does not address any of these issues. I think we should outgrow this approach of getting things done. There are better ways to get things done, by talking to A, B and C. The vice chancellor has been committed to students’ welfare, especially hostels,” Mr Akpanuko noted.
“You can see that he facilitated the construction of two hostels when he came into office. The NDDC hostel has also just been recently inaugurated,” he added.
This newspaper gathered that Mr Nyaudo had ordered the demolition of old wooden hostels and the construction of new ones, and that they were commissioned within his first month of assumption of office in December 2020.
In December 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated 1,050-bed hostel built by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the university’s main campus located at Nwaniba area of Uyo.
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