COVID-19: Students protest in Abuja over continued closure of varsities, polytechnics

Demand immediate reopening of schools
Tell FG: You can’t open markets, worship centres, others, leaving schools closed.

Students in universities across the country protested in Abuja, Wednesday, over the continued closure of schools arising from the outbreak of coronavirus.

The protesting student who converged on the nation’s capital city, demanded the immediate reopening of schools, flaying the government for its decision not to reopen schools for activities to commence having opened religious places, markers, airports among others.

Led by student leaders of the various public universities in the country, the aggrieved students accused the government of double standard in its decision not to reopen schools in the country.

Speaking on their behalf, President of the National Association of University Students, NAUS, Comrade Ejigah Felix, argued that there was no justification by the government for opening worship centres, markets, parks airports across the country, and leaving schools closed.

According to him, markets were the worst places in terms of danger for human health, saying if they could be opened for businesses, there was no justification leaving universities, polytechnics, and other educational institutions that have authorities and managerial skills closed.

Mr Felix, who said the government cannot claim to be fighting coronavirus when universities and polytechnics are closed to academic activities, noted that true and genuine research for the virus’ cure will only come from the institutions.

According to him, the continued closure of universities and other educational institutions was an indication that the government does not value education in the country.

He blamed the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu for not doing enough to see to the reopening of schools, challenging him to take a queue from his transport counterpart, whom he noted, had fought to the resumption of activities in the sector.

Hear him: “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.

“We will never relent in our agitations for immediate resumption of schools, we shall not give up. We shall continue to say our minds. No school, no nation.”

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