Uniben Students Hit The Streets In Protest As Strike Enters Day 80
Earlier today hundreds of students of the University of Benin, Edo State, trooped out en masse to block the busy Benin – Lagos Highway in a solidarity march with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to protest the ongoing strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities which began on February 14 and has lasted for almost four months. The students of the University of Benin called on the federal government to meet the demands of the lecturers and put their learning back on track.
The strike action of the lecturers which has lasted for almost four months has left public universities shut since its inception following the lecture’s demands, which the Federal Government had, allegedly, not met. ASUU had accused the government of poor commitment to the payment of earned academic allowance; the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution, among others.
On the streets of Benin, the students, who protested around the university’s gate and its environs, declared what they called ‘UNISTREET’, meaning that Nigerian students would now be taking lectures on the streets with some of them acting as lecturers, all in a bid to protest school closure.. The protest caused gridlock on the highway for hours, forcing many motorists to avoid the route while those going into the state capital had to divert to other roads. Students of the institution blocked the ever-busy Benin-Lagos Expressway and Ring Road while chanting solidarity songs and holding placards with inscriptions like ‘FG settle ASUU’, ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘End ASUU strike’ ‘When shall I see my class?’ and more.
The President, Students Union Government (SUG), Foster Amadin said the students would continue the protest in support of the lecturers. He told journalists that “This is a warning protest, we are airing our grievances and to let the government know that we are watching, ASUU should know we are watching and that if proper measures are not taken to check this strike, the effect will not be nice. We are ready to stay here except the federal government listens to our lecturers.”
Corroborating Amadin, the Speaker of the SUG, UNIBEN, Dignity Amenaghawon said “The essence of the protest is because of the ASUU strike, we are in the streets clamouring for the federal government to answer ASUU’s demands and put an end to these strikes, the federal government should respond to the demands ASUU is making.”
“We have a situation where students enter the school for a course of four years and they will be in campus for six to seven years in other countries, things are not like this, the government should answer ASUU’s demands. We are in solidarity with ASUU, the government should meet their demands.”
It would be worth noting that, on Tuesday, students equally protested around the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, asking that the demands of the lecturers be met and that public universities across Nigeria should be immediately reopened. Meanwhile, at the University of Lagos, plans of protests were nullified on Tuesday as heavily armed security officials, including the officers of the Nigeria Police Force, were positioned at the entrance of the school.
Below are pictures and videos from the scene.