Students from various Nigerian polytechnics, including Ofa Polytechnic and Ilaro Polytechnic, earlier today joined students of the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos to protest the government’s continued denial of demands by Polytechnic staff.
The students, who converged under the umbrella of Concerned Students Against Education Commercialization (COSATEC), massed near the front gate of Yaba College of Technology and the offices of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), located nearby in Yaba. They then marched in protest through the streets, terminating their rally at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Ojota. As they marched, the students chanted anti-government and anti-corruption protest songs.
The students said they aligned themselves with the demands of their lecturers. “If (our lecturers’) demands are met, the quality of education we receive is going to be improved,” one of the protesting students said.
Many of the students bemoaned the grave effect of the lingering strike on their academic and professional futures.
A lecturer at Yaba College of Technology told Saharareporters that their two-month strike became inevitable due to the government’s failure to implement contractual agreements negotiated since 2009. “Till date, they have refused to meet their obligations to us. It is a sign of irresponsibility on the part of government that they flout agreements they made themselves.”
The contentious issues include the dismal condition state of state-owned polytechnics, the appointment of unqualified persons as rectors by some state governments, the refusal of some states to implement approved salary packages for polytechnics, and failure to adopt 65 years as the retirement age.
The striking lecturers also oppose the continued recognition of the NBTE as a regulatory body for Nigerian polytechnics instead of creating a National Polytechnics Commission. They are also demanding an immediate amendment of the Federal Polytechnics Act .
Our correspondent spoke to some student leaders at the Yaba College of Technology who said they had decided not to participate in the protests. “We are happy that the government is talking with the relevant polytechnic unions with a view to resolve the problems. That’s why we are not joining the protests,” one of the leaders said.