Scores of workers and other citizens in Plateau State on Tuesday protested the ongoing Academic Students Union on Universities strike in compliance with the nationwide protest called by the national secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
The protesters who trooped out en-masse as early as 7 am converged at the Secretariat Junction Flyover bridge in the Jos city centre.
Leaders of different trade unions, including NLC, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, Student Union Government as well as civil society organisations took part in the protest.
The police and other security agents, however, were on ground to maintain law and order amid heavy gridlock on the roads caused by the protests.
But the leaders of the various unions who took turns to address the crowd lambasted the federal government for its nonchalant posture towards the development of education in the country.
The state chairman of the NLC, Eugene Manji, said, “Nigeria is standing still for our colleagues in tertiary institutions. They have been suffering for the past six months, and the situation is quite unfortunate.
“We are here to register our displeasure over the situation of things. The gap which the government is creating in the education sector by allowing prolonged strike in the system, who is going to fill them?
“What kind of government will sign an agreement and then turn round to blame somebody else for not implementing the agreement? If they refuse to honour the agreement, we are going to close down the country indefinitely.”
The ASUU Chairman of the University of Jos, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, accused the government of insincerity for claiming that it had no money to meet its demand to revamp the country’s education sector.
The ASUU chairman said, “Our struggle is for the development of the universities. How can one person use N100 million to purchase form, yet the government is saying it does not have money to find public schools?
“Government wants to introduce tuition fees amounting to over N750,000. If this happens, education will completely be beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.That is why We reject the introduction totally because it is against the people of Nigeria.”
The Chairman of the Civil Liberty Organisation, Steve Aluko, who spoke on behalf of other civil society organisations described education as a right of the people saying that any government that fails to respect the rights of its people is a failure.
“Is the situation in the education sector what they promised us in 2015 and 2019? They are failing because many of them in government did not go to school, and some of them that went did not allow the school to pass through them,” Aluko stated.
The protesters later marched to the Plateau state House of Assembly to hand over the protest letter containing their grievances to the leadership of the State Assembly.