The protest by students of the Government Technical College (GTC), Abakaliki, on Wednesday, paralysed academic and social activities in the institution.
The students were protesting alleged poor feeding, poor hostel management, lack of functional technical equipment, among others.
Senior Prefect (SP) of the college, Mr. Uche Nwankwo, who spoke to journalists, alleged that the school has been poorly managed since its handover by Ebonyi State Government to the Catholic Church in 2016.
Nwankwo alleged that the management of the school was not committed to both academic and welfare of the students.
“We are protesting so that the government, the church and the general public can hear us because several efforts we have made as students to get the school management listen to our grievances have failed.
“We have on so many occasions complained to the principal of the school the hardship we are facing due to poor learning environment, poor feeding, lack of functional laboratory and technical workshop as well as lack of hostel maintenance.
“Since the full takeover of the school administration by the Catholic Church in January, 2017 there has not been any practical in any of the subjects we offer in the school and this is a technical college.
“The principal stopped all recreational and sporting activities in the school and as I speak to you there are no functional electric bulbs in any of the dormitories and the school refectory.
“We have complained and complained and the principal was not receptive to the problems we are going through and that is why the students decided to embark on the protest as a last resort.
“We demand that the principal should be removed and that the school be properly funded to meet the academic and social needs of the students, ” Nwankwo said.
Efforts to speak with the principal, Rev. Sister Amaka (other name not given) was abortive as she was alleged to have been smuggled out of the school to avoid being attacked by the students.
Meanwhile, Vice Principal, Rev. Fr. James Nwofoke, said that the withdrawal of the N5,000 subvention paid by the state government for each student per term was affecting the effective running of the school.
He said that the management depended on the N5,000 paid per term by students for the running of the school, which he explained was not sufficient to provide the needs of the students.
“We depend on the N5,000 paid by students which includes the tuition and hostel service charge for the running of the school and the money is hardly sufficient to provide the basic needs of these students.
“The school management is working hard to ensure that the students’ academic and social welfare are taken care of.
“We are appealing to the students to be calm and go back to classes and avoid any conduct that will truncate the academic time table of the school,” Nwofoke said.
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi Commissioner for Education, Prof. John Eke, who intervened decried the development and said that government would interface with the school management and Catholic Church to address the problem.
The commissioner who debunked the alleged removal of N5,000 subvention paid on each student by government per term appealed to the protesters to remain calm and go back to the classrooms.
He further assured that government was committed to sound and qualitative education for the Ebonyi child.
“We have listened to the grievances of the protesting students. We are going to interface with the school authority and the Catholic Church, the owner of the school and I want to add that the state is committed to the payment of the N5,000 feeding subvention.
“As a government our commitment is to ensure that we provide functional, qualitative teaching and learning, including the provision of enabling environment conducive for acquisition of proper knowledge, ” Eke said.
The students barricaded the popular old Abakaliki /Enugu road and caused traffic gridlock which lasted for several hours, before they were dispersed and chased back to the school premises by a detachment of the police. Mr Jude Madu, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ebonyi Police Command, confirmed the incident.
He said that the Command immediately drafted men and officers of the Kpiri-kpiri Police Division to the school to calm the situation.
“We got the distress call and we immediately moved our men from the Kpiri-kpiri Police Divisional Headquarters to calm the situation and ensure that law and order were maintained.
“It was a peaceful protest and the students have gone back to their dormitories. Our men went to ensure that hoodlums did not exploit the situation to unleash mayhem on innocent and law abiding citizens, “Madu said. (NAN)