Protests erupted on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital among students over the continued closure of the State-run Niger Delta University, NDU, as a result of strike by the University’s lecturers.
The protesting students matched from Mbiama-junction to the government House gate, brandishing placards calling for the state government and the state chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to broker a truce and end the ongoing lecturers’ strike in the state.
The NDU branch of ASUU had on April 26 embarked on an indefinite strike citing the unpaid salaries by the state government dating back to December 2015.
The state governor, during negotiations with the association offered to pay them 50 percent of their salary arrears, but the offer was turned down by the lecturers who insisted that it was their full arrears or nothing.
The students lamented that the continued closure of the institution was a threat to educational development in the state and was not in anybody’s interest.
Kemeowei James, a student said the students were tired of staying at home.
“Yes, we are protesting over the ASUU strike that have lingered, because we are tired of sitting at home; you know that, an idle man, is the devil’s workshop. We want the government to resolve the situation; the strike has increased hardship, making us to sit idle and losing focus on our academic pursuit,’’ he said.
“We do not want our state to be known for criminality,” said Mary Goodluck, another student protester. “Right now, the strike has increased youth restiveness among other vices”.
Serena Dokuno-Spiff, Secretary to Bayelsa Government, who addressed the students, said ASUU is to blame for the strike as it has refused to honour their part payment agreement with the state government.
“I feel your pains, you need not to suffer what you are suffering, but it is because ASUU has refused to sit down with the state government,’’ Dokuno-Spiff said.
The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Jonathan Obuebite, in a statement, also called on the students to blame their lectures and not the government for the situation, urging them not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to cause unrest in the state.