The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) on Wednesday threatened to boycott and disrupt the forthcoming general elections if the ongoing general strike by university staff unions is not called off immediately.
NANS said if the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Federal government fail to reach an understanding and call off the ongoing strike, students would stop the elections from holding.
ASUU had since November 5, 2018 embarked on an indefinite strike action over government’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the union and the federal government in 2017 and efforts by the federal government to negotiate with the union were deadlocked.
But on Wednesday, NANS Zone B (South-East and South-South), during a demonstration at the Delta State end of the Niger Bridge, barricaded the expressway to register their displeasure over the lingering strike and called on the federal government to negotiate with ASUU.
The protesting students, who were drawn from the 11 states of the South-South and South-East, were seen wielding placards of various inscriptions; “ASUU/ ASUP strike, Another way to increase crime”, ” No resumption, no election”, “We are tired of endless negotiations” “End strike now”, “NANS Zone B wants Her Students back on campus” Nigerian Students have bright future, do not truncate it with strike” “NANS Zone B says no to strike”, “Save education, end strike now”, ” Freedom cometh by struggle strike “, among others.
Addressing newsmen, the Zone B Coordinator of NANS, Comrade Okereke vowed that NANS would chase away voters on election day if the federal government failed to agree to terms with ASUU and end the strike.
“Nigerian students are tired of staying at home doing nothing while the election holds. We are calling on the federal government to negotiate with ASUU to end the strike or forget about the 2019 elections.
“Students constitute 46 per cent of the electoral strength in this country, if federal government fails to end the strike, we will see it as a deliberate attempt to rig the poll because the election cannot hold while we remain at home. Let them open our campuses or election will not hold.
“We are in support of ASUU demand for revitalization of our universities. Most of our tertiary institutions are in ruins, what we have in Nigeria is a glorified secondary school and our lecturers deserve better pay.”
Also speaking the National Deputy President of NANS, Comrade Pedro Obi Chibuzor warned that the only condition that would warrant students’ participation in the election would be to end the strike.
He expressed dissatisfaction with what he viewed as the failure of the APC 2015 campaign promise of prioritizing education.
The NANS Zone A coordinator, Comrade Umar Farouk Lawal, in his contribution said they were mobilizing their members nationwide for mass protests in Abuja before the election if the strike persists.