LAGOS – The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, yesterday grounded activities at the country’s main gateway, the Murtala Muhammad Airport, Ikeja, in protest against the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which students have long kept at home. in seven months.
The student body also vowed to extend the protest today to the Apapa Wharf and Tin Can Island ports and the Third Mainland Bridge.
ASUU went on strike on February 14 to protest the federal government’s failure to meet the demands of its members, including the implementation of the agreement it signed with the government in 2009 on earned allowances and replacement of the integrated payroll – and staff information system, IPPIS, and University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS.
Not even the early morning rain stopped the students from trooping out for the protest as early as 6am as they intended to stop all flights out of Lagos, especially the first flights.
As a result, all access roads to both domestic and international wings of the airport were blocked for motorists, causing severe traffic jams, forcing passengers to trek kilometers with their luggage to connect their flights.
Touts took advantage of the situation to do brisk business, charging passengers as much as between N2,000 and N3,000 to transport each passenger’s luggage to the terminal of the airport.
Some bedridden travelers on wheelchairs were seen being pushed into the terminal due to the blockade.
Several passengers also missed their flights as operators flew out of Lagos half-empty.
A stranded commuter and Federal Government employee, Oyetunji Sanusi, said he got stuck in traffic on his way to work at 8.30am.
“I suffered today (yesterday). It’s 2:30pm and I’m still here. The turmoil is worth it, but the hardship it caused is unimaginable. My appeal to the government is that they must find a lasting solution to this issue.”
Another very angry commuter, Francis Phillips, said he has been to 88 countries of the world, adding that Nigeria remains the worst.
Even the spoon we use to eat here is sub-standard. I am stranded here and my wife is stranded at the local airport. Even in Somalia it doesn’t happen like that. It’s a shame,” he said.
He added that everyone has the right to protest, but regrets that those who should be targeted were not affected by the protests.
“They are sharing money because they don’t know their right from their left,” he said.
Also, a sick commuter who said his home is only about five minutes from the airport said he had to pass by to access his drugs.
He said: “I’ve been here since 7am and my car is parked somewhere. I need to get home to take my drugs and eat, but I’m afraid to leave my car here.”
Although the police on Sunday warned the students to stay away from the airport to avoid confrontation with workers, they provided security cover to the protesting students and even pleaded with them to stop action which they refused.
They were transported to the airport axis in more than 20 vans, cars to prevent the demonstration from being hijacked by hijackers.