University students protest in Abuja, demand immediate reopening of tertiary institutions
University students, under the aegis of National Association of University Students, NAUS, on Wednesday demanded the reopening of universities and other tertiary institutions in the country.
The students, who protested in Abuja, said there was no reason higher institutions of learning would remain closed when markets, churches and public offices have been reopened.
They also wondered why universities are shutdown when political campaign rallies are allowed to go on in parts of the country.
President of NAUS, Comrade Ejigah Felix, who spoke for the students, noted that the actions of the Federal Government shows that the educational sector was not important.
NAUS accused the Federal Ministry of Education of not doing anything to ensure the resumption of full academic activities in the country.
Outlining the students’ demands, Felix said, “Our schools have been shut down for too long, markets are now open, campaigns are going on.
“What it clearly shows is that the educational sector is a sector that is not recognized in this country. What it shows is that it is the educational sector that is neglected in this country.
“Anybody who says he’s fighting coronavirus in this country and is not taking the educational sector serious is a liar because it is a sector where the virus can be fought through research and researches is only done in academic fields.
“How do you close our universities, our polytechnics, and all relevant academic institutions and you are telling people that you want to stop the virus?
“Our demands are that our schools should be reopened.
“ASUU strikes have been lingering in this country for so long. Every time that government has an issue with ASUU, it is the students that are at the receiving end, everybody who is in school for a four-year programme ends up spending six or more years.
“We want the government to find a way of addressing this and stop putting our generation at risk. Students are about wasting one year at home and this is not good for Nigerian students.
“Some students leaders are trying to sabotage this protest after collecting money from some quarters, this is unfortunate.
“I am not here to represent myself neither I am here to represent my friend, I am here to represent the Nigerian students. And with overwhelming support, we are here today from different parts of the country.
“The simple message here is that Nigerian students want our schools opened.
“The Federal Ministry of Education is not doing as well. If the Ministry of Transportation can liaise and find a way for us to move despite the problem, if people in markets can find a way despite the problem, then the education sector should find a way for our schools to be reopened.
“They are saying that if we get back to our schools, we are going to contact the virus but the same modalities we have put in our religious houses-our churches, our mosques and in markets, we will put those modalities in schools.
“Markets are informal places, even campaigns are informal because of people cluster.
“But in universities, in polytechnics, we have authorities, we have calendars, we have management and so we have ways of managing things. Where we have little risk is where they are saying they will not open.
“Please I want to ask between markets and universities, where do we have a higher risk of contracting the virus? All the problems of this world, is it not from markets and supermarkets we get them? With what they are doing now, they are telling us that coronavirus exists only on our campuses, that is the message they are giving us.
“Our demands here is that they should apply the same measures that have taken in opening other segments, this is what we want in our education sector so that we will be back to school.”
The students vowed to continue with the agitation for immediate resumption of schools until the Federal Government give in to the demand.
“No school, no nation,” Felix added, noting that university students are tired of staying at home.