By Dayo Adesulu
UNDERGRADUATES who are affected by the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, have vowed to disrupt the elections slated for February 16 if the three-month old strike is not called off.
In a chat with Vanguard, the leadership of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS said the industrial action by both unions has not only hindered their academic pursuits, but it has also disenfranchised about 22.3million students who had registered at the INEC offices nearest to their institutions.
Its president, Comrade Danielson Bamidele Akpan said: ‘’The continuous strike action by both ASUU and ASUP has not only brought increased pain on students and their parents, it is now seen by us as a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise our members, especially those who registered within their school environments and are presently in their various homes.
“Consequently, Nigerian students have decided to take their destinies in their hands, enough of the politics being played with our future.
“We wish to inform the general public that Nigerian students would resist any election from holding in any part of the country should our campuses remain shut till election date.
He said the students are citizens of Nigeria “and on no account shall we allow this sinister disenfranchisement of the largest voting population of our citizens in a major election to pass due to no fault of theirs. We have 22.3 million registered students, eligible to change the destiny of the nation. We refused to be sacrificed in exercising this obligatory duty to our nation at this crucial moment. Our voices must be heard and our votes must count.”
Akpan said: “After a careful observation of the continued insensitive shut down of our universities due to the strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics wish to unapologetically declare Operation no resumption, no election.
Going down memory lane of the academic disruption faced by tertiary institutions in the last one year, Akpan said: “On 4th November, 2018, the Academic Staff Union of Universities embarked on an indefinite strike which grounded all academic activities on our campuses till date. Prior to theirs, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, had also embarked on same industrial action, shutting down all Colleges of Education.
“NANS quickly swung into action requesting and forcing the Federal Ministry of Education, NCCE and COEASU to an immediate negotiation table while NANS observed the proceedings of the discussions for quick resolution. Compromise was reached and the strike action was called off without unnecessary delay of academic resumption.
“However, after few days of COEASU suspending their strike, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics began theirs. Both ASUU and ASUP have since been on strike, forcing millions of our members to stay at home with possible consequence of disenfranchisement in the forthcoming general elections beginning on February 16th.
“In solidarity, Nigerian students embarked on simultaneous nationwide protest across the 36 states of the federation with a mother rally at Abuja on November 19th, 2018. The rally was tagged: Save Education Rally across the federation, to create awareness on the state of education in the country, after which we presented a position paper of our demands to the Federal Government, the Press and general public.
“Sadly, it appears that the gains recorded in the last few weeks had been eroded by the continued shut down of our schools and barely 12 days to commencement of the general elections. It is also instructive to note that the students’ constituency constitutes the largest segment of registered voters with 22.3 million as released by INEC.