By Christopher Oji
Many travellers, local and foreign were stranded today in Lagos as students of various higher institutions blocked the Airport road, protesting the continued Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU)strike.
The students who barricaded the road chanting war songs, were protesting the eight long strike by ASUU; warning that no one, especially foreign travellers, would leave Lagos, and the country, until the Federal Government resolves their issues with ASUU.
As early as 6.30 am, the students numbering over 1000, had converged at 7/8 Bus -stop, Airport road, Oshodi, from where they were moving towards the Mutala Muhammad International Airport, before they were stop by Airport Command of the Nigeria Police Force.
A student Chibuike Osuni, who refused to name his school for fear of possible intimidation by the government, said,” we have decided to block the Airport road because that is the only route to the airports, local and International. This is the only route that everyone , including Government officials follow. Some of them follow the route to visit their children in foreign and private Universities in the country. That is why they are not bothered about our plight. We have stayed at home for eight months and no one cares. No one is saying anything about the ASSU strike, but we are very happy today that some of the people travelling today will miss their appointments as we have been missing lectures.
“Our protest will be a continuous one until the government accedes to ASUU’s demand and reopen our schools. Some of us have died while hustling because of the hopelessness that our government deliberately put us into. Let me be frank with you, if the children of Ministers, Governors, Presidency and management team are schooling in Nigeria, will they allow the strike to happen ,not to talk of lingering more than one week? It won’t happen. We are not going to relent in our protest to attract the entire world. You are here today as a Journalist, so our voices will be heard through your medium”.
Another student, Nkem Omeogor, said ,” I am tired the way the government is treating the issue between her and ASUU. They are treating us as if it is crime not having money for private Universities. The government is telling us to die without fighting for our rights. They have used the instrumentality of of the police to stop us from going down to Airport, but we have made impact, as we prevented many people from traveling. For now, I am working as a sales girl in a fishery. I earn N25,000 a month. Well, is it what I am supposed to be doing if the school is opened? As it is ,we have wasted one academic year at home while their children in private universities and in abroad have entered another Academic session , and people expect us to keep quiet”.
However, a senior police officer at Airport Command who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the command was on top of the situation,” we are in control. We are pushing them back. You know that we can’t use force on them because, they are students. We will continue to appeal to them to understand that they have their rights, but they must not infringe on other people’s right. For instance, many travellers have missed their flights”.
Also a senior police officer from Lagos State Police command , told Daily Sun ,that it won’t be ideal for Policemen from the command to move to Airport road which is not in their jurisdiction,” the police is one, so we are on standby, if the Airport Command is overwhelmed and call for reinforcement, we shall move in and give them backup. But for now ,the command has not contacted us, meaning that the situation is under their control”.
However, Public Relations Officer ( PPRO), Airport Command of the Nigeria Police, DSP Ojelade Olayinka, told Daily Sun that, ” the students blocked the road and pretesting their fundamental human rights, so we don’t need to use maximum force on them, but they should not overdo things. The government and the whole world have heard their complaints, so they should not disturb other people’s rights. We are still appealing to them to give peace a chance and leave the road. We are not using maximum force but making appeals. I know that very soon, they will calm down”.
As at the time of filling this report, the students were still on the road chanting war songs and warning the police not to shoot anyone.
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