Students of the Polytechnic, Ibadan, on Tuesday, protested against the strike embarked upon by their lecturers since December 2013, which has led to the collapse of academic activities in the institution.
The students marched around the Mokola area of the city, disrupting early morning flow of traffic. Heavy police presence was visible, which, obviously, prevented the incident from going berserk.
The students later hijacked four of the state-owned public transport buses, tagged, Ajumose Shuttle, sending passengers out of them and ordering the drivers to drive them back to the campus after more than one hour of demonstration.
Some of the students, who did not give their names, told our correspondent that the state government was insensitive towards their plight by not negotiating with the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics.
“We have not gone to the classrooms since December because our lecturers are on strike. What we do not understand is how long we will be at home,” said a female student of Mass Communication.
The institution’s Students Union President, Abiola Oladimeji, who addressed the students at the Mokola Square, said a 24-hour ultimatum had been issued to the government by the union after which it would take another action to ensure students’quick return to the classrooms.
ASUP Chairman in the institution, Segun Philip, told our correspondent on the telephone that there were many issues that the state government had ignored despite signing an agreement with the union in 2013.
He said, “I do not know if the student’s agitation is in tune with ours or they have a separate issue that they want the government to address.
“What we are asking for is the 40 per cent balance of hazard allowance that was agreed to in June 2013. There is under-payment of 70 per cent academic allowance for lecturers. It started in 2011, but instead of using the new basic system, the government is using the old basic allowance rate, which resulted in 37 per cent short fall. It’s a way of extorting our members.”
The Commissioner for Education, Solomon Olaniyonu, told our correspondent that the lecturers erred by abandoning the classrooms after assurances from the government that the issues would be addressed.
“We are aware of their demands and the management of the polytechnic has paid part of the hazard allowance and it will pay the balance. The lecturers are not supposed to do what they have done. We have had meetings with ASUP representatives several time, and we told them that the issues would be addressed.” said the commissioner.
Meanwhile, students of tertiary institutions in the country have appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to end the lingering nationwide strike by ASUP.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abakaliki on Tuesday, the students said time had come for the President to personally wade into the dispute and bring the strike to an end.
According to them, the seven-month-old nationwide strike had caused serious academic setback to polytechnic education.
One of the students, Mr Ogochukwu Oko of the Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Uwana Afikpo in Ebonyi, described the indefinite strike as “unfortunate’’ and appealed to the president to act fast to save polytechnic education.
“What is happening has created an academic hemorrhage which is detrimental for the nation’s technological development.
“I think it is time our dear President intervened and save the nation from this embarrassing situation,” he said.