By Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
The National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) has vowed to disrupt domestic and international flights at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from Monday if the Federal Government fails to reach an agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic Staff (ASUP).
The students, who demanded the immediate reopening of Polytechnics, also called for immediate negotiation to end the lingering strike by ASUP.
The angry students, who barricaded the entrance of the Federal Ministry of Education, carrying placards with various inscriptions, urged the Federal Government to listen to their lecturers.
The protesting students were received by officials of the ministry led by the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba.
Polytechnic teachers have been on strike for two months over government’s inability to meet their
President of NAPS, Mr Sunday Asuku, called on both parties to reach a compromise or risk nationwide protest by the students.
He said: “We are here to demand for immediate reopening of our tertiary institutions. ASUP has been on strike for two months now and nothing has been done about it.
“Government is not saying anything about this and we want them to reopen the schools now or else we are not leaving.
“We have written to them but they have declined. The Federal Government workers are being paid their salaries and allowances likewise our lecturers, so who is going to pay the students for time wastage.”
Asuku said the students’ body reached out to ASUP leadership who promised to shift ground if government yields to their demands.
He added: “ASUP demanded 15 items from the Federal Government but was only able to get two which to us is not commendable.
“As a student body, we are interested in the government paying the lecturers their minimum wage which is accrued to two years.
“Other MDAs have received theirs since Nov. 2019, why holding our lecturers to ransom. If you can give them this, then we have the right to hold them accountable for not teaching.
“We want the government to call ASUP back to a round table and give them what belongs to them, else by Monday, we will grind the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.”
Responding, Nwajiuba said everything that had to do with ASUP had been settled by the government.
The Minister said the onus lied with the union to be fair on the students by calling off the strike.
Nwajiuba said: “Everyone of us is pained by what is going on in the polytechnic sector of our education, many of us spoke with ASUP at the time of their warning strike that we are not running an Ad hoc government.
“Nothing ends today, even if I die today, Nigeria will continue and there is nothing that will stop Nigeria.
“When ASUP wanted to start this strike, we wrote them and said everything that ASUP requested for has been agreed upon, we do not have one area of disagreement.
“On May 23, we communicated to ASUP and we have given them a catalog of everything that they said we should do that we have complied with.”