The National Association of Nigerian Students, South-West Zone, has said that it is ready to conduct a funeral for public education, accusing the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), of burying public education in the country.
The students, in a statement signed by its Coordinator and Spokesperson, Adegboye Olatunji and Awoyinfa Opeoluwa, respectively, and made available to The PUNCH on Monday, said in the coming days, they would be hitting the streets again.
“It behooves us to call the attention of the general public and the international community on the brazen insult meted on the mass of Nigerian students by the irresponsible administration of Buhari.
“Without considering the fact that Nigerian university students have been at home for close to eight months as a result of the failure of this administration to meet the demands of striking lecturers and to properly fund education, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, is to be conferred with the National Honour of Commander of the Order of Niger.
“The recognition of patronage on the Minister has not just demystified the sacredness of National Honours, it has further shown to the mass of Nigerian students that this administration does not regard the youths as being critical stakeholders as far as national development is concerned. To say that a man under whose watch university students have been at home for close to eight months due to the strike embarked upon by lecturers, got recognised by the President, and to be conferred with a National Honour, is a direct attack on the mass of students,” the statement partly read.
NANS also called on Buhari to takeover negotiation with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, and no longer leave it in the hands of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Reacting further, NANS said, “rather than concentrating on the task of governance, the President is distributing National Honours to different characters, mostly misfits. How can you be honouring people who have made the cost of living so high, and reduced the standard of living?”
“We condemn and reject the National Honours and some of its recipients. We want Nigeria students to be ready for a grand mass action on the ASUU strike. We are clear that this government is anti-public education and this is against the yearnings of millions of students and youths.
“We also saw a distractive circular issued by the Ministry of Education whereby Education students in both colleges and universities were called upon to apply for a bursary programme. It is not just ridiculous, but equally shameful. If the government is sincere as it wants the public to perceive, there is no reason to be getting students to apply. The National Universities Commission and the National Commission for Colleges of Education have the data of students and should get all students to have a bursary. As an association, we do not want selective bursary but full bursary for all Nigerian students.
“We maintain that we want free education at all levels, instead of stipends as bursary. Nigerian students in the South West region must warm up for a consistent round of agitation to force the government to do the needful.”
“In coming days, we shall be occupying the streets across the South-West region to conduct a final burial rite of public education in the country as this is what the Buhari’s administration represents,” the statement concluded.