At least 500 students of polytechnics, universities, and even secondary school leavers, under the aegis of the Concerned Citizens Against Education Commercialization, COSATEC, yesterday took to the streets to protest against the Federal Government’s lackadaisical attitude towards ending the incessant strikes in the education sector.
The placard-carrying students barricaded Ikorodu Road at Onipanu area and halted their protest at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Ojota.
The protest brought untold hardship to commuters as a traffic gridlock ensued on the ever busy road when the students danced and played football on the highway during the protest.
Student Union President, Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti, Comrade Owolade Oluwasijibomi, told Vanguard, “We just want to tell the Federal Government that enough is enough. We are tired of them playing with our future. We kept quiet about this for a while because we considered the fact that apart from the Federal Ministry of Education, there are other sectors involved.
“However, over 70 days have passed and the situation has not changed. They have taken our gentility for stupidity. And we want to let them know that until they meet the demands of our lecturers, we will continue to constitute a nuisance.”
The Speaker of the Yaba College of Technology Students Legislative Council, Titilayo Arikawe, who spoke with Punch said the President Goodluck Jonathan administration had been insensitive and partial in dealing with the problems in the educational sector.
“We (Polytechnics) have been on strike for three months, while Academic Staff Union of Universities began their strike about two weeks ago. They have started talking on resolving their crisis at the National Assembly, neglecting the polytechnic students. Are polytechnic students not students?”
On his part, Chairman of COSATEC, Comrade Usman Oloyede, said, “We are here to throw our weight behind the striking unions in the education sector, and advocate proper funding of the sector, democratic control as well as a conducive learning environment for Nigerian students.
“More protests should be expected. It is going to be a protracted struggle because those involved are ideologically mature. We are even calling on unemployed youths to join us. I do not mince words when I say almost everyone in this country is a victim of this our corrupt political system.
“The only people who are exempted are the children of these our leaders. Anytime we complain, they keep on giving us seven point agenda as if we are fools.”
Also joining forces with COSATEC was Chairman of the Education Rights Campaign, ERC. He said, “It is another movement by students to insist that the government act speedily and end these strikes. The polytechnic students have been at home since April 29.
“A few weeks ago, we heard that the Senate had intervened and that we should expect good news by today. But the situation is still the same.”