Over 1,000 university students, teachers, pro-democracy and human rights activists this morning held a rally in Lagos, western Nigeria, to draw attention to the poor state of education in the country.
Organisers of the rally said they were protesting against poor infrastructure in public schools, high school fees and government insensitivity to the plight of teachers at all levels in the education sector.
The protest is coming on the heels of the indefinite strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, nationwide, to protest poor funding of education by the government.
The peaceful protest which started at the secretariat annex of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Yaba, was led by Comrade Abiodun Aremu of the Joint Action Front, JAF, a coalition of students and civil right groups.
Other leaders of the group who participated in the march include radical lawyer, Bamidele Aturu and Comrade Chibuzor Asomugha, who represented the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP.
The protest march led to the disruption of traffic along Ikorodu Road. Motorists and commuter bus drivers spent long hours on the road as the protesters marched, sang and danced to sensitise the public about their cause.
In his speech at a rally held at Palmgrove, Comrade Abiodun described the march as the beginning of a series of protests lined up to make governments at all levels change their attitude to education.
He called on parents, traders, artisans and others to join the protest and force government to do something about the poor sate of education in the country.
“This is just the beginning of a number of protests that we have lined up in the coming days. We are going to be peaceful in all the protests. As you can see today, there are no street urchins or ‘area boys.’ The aim is to draw government attention to the numerous problems bedevilling education in the country. We need the support of everybody. If we don’t do this, nobody is going to do it for us,” he stated.
Comrade Asomugha, on his part, said it is time for the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and other relevant groups to take the bull by the horn and fight for the rights of the downtrodden.
“Education is not only for the rich, Nigerians should wake up and reclaim what belongs to them. We, members of ASUP, have resolved to join the protest to salvage the education sector. We want to identify with the spirit of peaceful protest, which is a veritable tool to fight a just cause,” he said.
—Dedeigbo Ayodeji & Damilare Okunola