Following the continued closure of public universities, journalists under the aegis of the Education Writers Association of Nigeria (EWAN) on Sunday stormed Alausa, the seat of power in Lagos State to demand immediate reopening of the institutions closed as a result of strike actions caused by both academic and non-academic unions of the varsities
The journalists in conjunction with concerned stakeholders including Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE); Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); National Association of Parent Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN); and Human Rights Advocate, Jiti Ogunye among others walked from Lagos Television (LTV) along Jakande road to the entrance leading to the Lagos State House of Assembly and Lagos House Ikeja.
During the walk, the association made up of members from different media organisations chanted songs seeking immediate opening of public universities.
They also held a big banner and placards with inscriptions that included: ‘fund education’, ‘end moral and academic corruption on campuses’, ‘We say NO to incessant strikes’, ‘Yes to responsible unionism’, and ‘Nigerian students are tired of idleness’ among others.
DailyTrust reports that since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared its initial four-week strike on February 14, it has continued to linger to date while.
Moreso, workers’ unions including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have all declared nationwide strikes, thus, paralysing both academic and non-academic activities for months.
Chairman of EWAN, Mr Mojeed Alabi while addressing government officials at Alausa explained that the aim of the association was to present a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari through Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the continued closure of universities due to ongoing strike actions.
“We are concerned about the prolonged closure of public universities resulting in the students staying idle at home for months. We are also worried over the silence of the government on the issue,” he said.
In the letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, EWAN lamented that Nigeria’s universities have been abandoned to suffer infrastructural decay, dearth of facilities, poor teacher-student ratios, poor funding, moral and academic corruption, which have been linked to the politicisation of education in the country.
The journalists decried poor allocation to the education sector as well as the appointee to man the sector.
“Your administration, like others before it, has continued to encourage policy summersaults, inconsistencies, and poor commitment to the reform expected in the education sector. Rather than strengthening the existing academic institutions, your administration has continued to announce the establishment of more schools, satisfying only political interests and not the sustainability of such institutions,” they said.
Receiving the letter on behalf of Sanwo-Olu, Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab said that the present administration feels the concern of EWAN and parents, whose wards have been at home for months due to strike.
He said, “I feel the pain of parents. For the past three years, universities have been shut down due to incessant strikes by unions. I will deliver your letter to the governor, and it would be escalated. No country can progress meaningfully without provision of quality education for its citizens.”