By Victor Habila
Some sect of students from Polytechnics across Nigeria grounded activities at the Federal Ministry of Education, demanding an immediate end to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic Staff (ASUP).
The aggrieved students lay siege at the Federal Ministry of Education, to protest the about seven weeks strike, lamenting that they were the most marginalised set of students in the country, who were still at home despite having wasted a whole academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading the protest, Mr Sunday Asuku, the President of National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS), urged the Federal Government and ASUP to reach a compromise or risk a nationwide protest by the students.
He said: “We were home all through last year, we have wasted a whole year of our lives, there is nobody to compensate us for the year wasted and now we are on strike. How long are we going to continue like this? Our university counterparts are in class, we are the most marginalised set of students in the country.
“We can no longer keep quiet, silence is no longer golden, all we want is immediate reopening of our classes.”
Asuku further warned that should government fail to meet the demands of their lecturers and schools remain closed by next Monday, they would proceed to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.
“ASUP demanded 15 items from the Federal Government but was only able to get two which to us is not commendable. As a student body, we are interested in the government paying the lecturers their minimum wage which is accrued to two years.
“Other MDAs have received theirs since Nov 2019, why holding our lecturers to ransom. If you can give them this, then we have the right to hold them accountable for not teaching.
“We want the government to call ASUP back to a round table and give them what belongs to them else by Monday, we will grind the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.”
Addressing the protesting students, Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, insisted that the Federal has met all demands of the union.
“Every one of us is pained by what is going on in the polytechnic sector of our education, many of us spoke with ASUP at the time of their warning strike that we are not running an Adhoc government. Nothing ends today, even if I die today, Nigeria will continue and there is nothing that will stop Nigeria.
“When ASUP wanted to start this strike, we wrote them and said everything that ASUP requested for has been agreed upon, we do not have one area of disagreement.
“On the 23rd of May, we communicated to ASUP and we have given them a catalogue of everything that they said we should do that we have complied with.”