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Monday, July 4, 2022

Students’ protests: Avoid another #EndSARS crisis, Stakeholders warn

By Victor Akinkuolie,
Saheed Ibrahim
Babatunde Ayedoju
Kayode Olabanji
Adedotun Aderoboye &
Kayode Afolabi

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The ongoing protests by students in public universities  if not properly managed, may snowball into another conflagration worse than the October 2020  EndSARS protest.

This is the submission of some stakeholders who warned the government against allowing  hoodlums hijacking the peaceful protest to score cheap points against the government.

They submitted that it is better to prevent a crisis than allow it fester.

It would be recalled that students from universities in the country, especially in the south west have taken to the major roads, blocking roads to protest the strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other staff unions, which has crippled academic activities in the past three months.

The road blockage has caused discomfort for many road users and motorists.

Those who spoke with The Hope are; former Deputy National President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Joseph Akinlaja, a Senior lecturer at the Department of History and International Relations, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Dr Adedayo Afe, a lecturer and researcher, Dr (Mrs) Funmilola Ojo and Dr. Leke Ogunfeyimi

Others are: Head of Philosophy Department, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr Layi Oladipupo and

National President of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-Cultural Organisation, the Defense for Yoruba People’s Right, Mr Muyideen Olamoyegun

Afe said the protracted strike has plunged both students and parents into huge financial crisis and, serious setback for the students future.

“Whether it is going to turn to another EndSARS or not, nobody can really say, because in a crisis, we can only know the beginning, nobody knows how it will end. So, it is better to prevent it than to allow it fester. It is better for the government to do the needful and attend to the demands of the unions.

“Government is insensitive and is toying with the future of these students. When a student has to spend two years at the same level that is very unfortunate. Some of them paid for accommodation on campus, while others hired private hostels whose owners charge per year, not based on sessions. Some of their parents borrowed money to do businesses on the campus and are now in huge debts, ” said the don.

He however, admonished the students to be peaceful and law abiding, saying those who will be at the receiving end of the protest are the masses, not the elites.

He added, “a repeat of the 2020 EndSARS won’t be in the interest of anybody. What was the result of the protests then? A lot of lives and property were destroyed and nothing happened thereafter. So, whatever they want to do, I believe they should look at the implication for themselves, their parents and their families.

According to Joseph Akinlaja, the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) shows that the country has failed to continue the tradition of prioritizing education as a tool for economic and political development, which was attained and maintained by leaders in the past.

“it is unfortunate that the government is increasing the level of illiteracy in the country. We know that education make people easy to govern but difficult to enslave. The insensitivity of those in government in the past 17 years to education is quite unfortunate. These strikes are impoverishing the people by limiting their access to education.

“That is what these terror groups are capitalizing on to have army of recruits who are very gullible and willing. How can we allow our children to be at home because of strikes on several occasions and the government will be comfortable?”

A lecturer and Researcher, Dr. Funmilola Mabel Ojo said Nigerians are heading towards another #EndSARS protest.

“This current ASUU strike may lead to another endsars protest in Nigeria if not urgently addressed. Since the government is adamant and ASUU is not ready to surrender this time because this strike will determine if ASUU always fight a lost battle.

Dr Leke Ogunfeyimi said the students are not only protesting against ASUU strike. They are in Nigeria, they have been victims of the malevolence of the present regime. They, therefore, are protesting against malevolent leadership.

“They understand the plights of their lecturers. Some of them know what ASUU is fighting for. Revitalization of the system will also do them good. Therefore, they are protesting against the insensitivity of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Head of Philosophy Department, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr Layi Oladipupo lamented that the language the FG understood was demonstrations.

He warned that if the government was not concerned about the plights of the students and the lecturers and find solution to the strike, it may lead to riot.

“The language the Federal government knows is force. They rule their citizens with force and frugality and if the citizens too understand the psych of their leaders, they will take their destinies into their hands”, he stated.

He urged government to be alive to its responsibilities and keep to the agreement it had with ASUU, adding that government must take education seriously.

National President of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, the Defense for Yoruba People’s Right, Mr Muyideen Olamoyegun urged Federal Government to take the drastic action to address the ongoing protest embarked upon by members of National Association of Nigeria Student (NANS).

Olamoyegun also blamed the ongoing nationwide strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the federal government’s insincerity and its low interest in education of Nigerians.

Olamoyegun, a Human Right Activist, urged Nigerians to rather blame the Federal Government for not honouring its agreements with ASUU and for embarking on indiscriminate establishment of universities that the government is financial incapacitated to fund.

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