Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) yesterday shut down streets of Abuja in protest for the poor state of the education sector in Nigeria. The students said they have had enough of excuses about poor infrastructures in universities and would no longer fold their hands and watch the political class to continue ruining the lives and future of Nigerians through corruption and inept administration.
As early as 8am, the students converged at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to begin the process of raising public awareness on the need to salvage the nation’s education system from underdevelopment. The protest was tagged, “Save Education Rally.”
Led by their president, Bamidele Akpan, the students, with the support of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), marched through Shehu Shagari expressway, to three-arm zone and terminated at Federal Secretariat where the ministry of education is located.
Motorists and commuters whose offices are around the locations were forced to take alternative routes. Akpan told journalists that government had not been sincere on issues that concern education, hence the periodic industrial action that had disrupted academic calendar and affected quality of education.
He said that budgetary provisions over the years has not shown that the education sector is a priority, hence the insistence that President Muhammadu Buhari should withdraw the 2018 budget and increase the education budget to 26 percent as requested by UNESCO.
The students also suggested a disbandment of the Dr. Wale Babalakin-led renegotiation committee on 2009 ASUU/Government agreement, alleging that the committee was interpreting a written script.
He said: “We have lost confidence in the Babalakin led committee. We suggest its disbandment and assemblage of people with credibility and integrity to renegotiate the agreement. And we must insist that students are well represented in the new team. We believe that it is the only way that we could discuss issues of education in Nigeria and achieve great results,” he said.
NLC Director of International Relations and National Assembly Liaison Officer, Uche Ekwe, who led other NLC officials, said the support has become necessary due to the need to rescue Nigeria’s education system.
Meanwhile, the Director, General Services in the Federal Ministry of Education, Arthur Onyeachu, who was assigned by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, to receive the aggrieved students assured them that their grievances would be looked into.