Hundreds of Nigerian students under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), on Thursday, May 11, invaded the premises of the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja, demanding the sack of Mallam Adamu Adamu, the minister of education. This was over the minister’s refusal to reinstate the 13 vice chancellors of Nigeria’s federal universities who were wrongfully sacked by the federal government in February.
The demand for the reinstatement of the sacked VCs by the students followed the public apology tendered by President Muhammadu Buhari in March for the wrongful dissolution of the governing boards of the affected universities, which preceded the sack of the 13 Vice Chancellors. The students who arrived the education ministry, which is located at the Federal Secretariat, Eagle Square, at about 11.45 am in ten buses headed straight to the minister’s office but were promptly prevented by some very alert policemen and civil defence personnel who quickly locked the main gate to the ministry’s office. Not deterred, the students caused rowdy scenes as they chanted songs demanding the immediate sack of the minister.
The students insisted that they would occupy the ministry until their demand of the sack or resignation of the minister is met. The students also came with banners with inscriptions like, “Mallam Adamu Adamu resign now,” “Adamu Must Go,” “Indiscriminate Sacks Recipe for Universities Collapse,” “NANS Save Our Universities,” “Protest #AdamuMustGo#. Following the persistence of the students to match into the office of the minister, and fearing that the situation might get out of hands, the police called for reinforcement. In the midst of the rowdiness, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie arrived the scene to address the students. Okojie who must have been sent by the minister to find a way of dousing the situation appealed to the students not to take the laws into their hands by demanding the immediate resignation of the minister. The NUC boss wondered why the students failed to approach him on the matter before insisting on the sack of the minister. He assured the students that the issue was being currently handled by the National Assembly and at other high levels of government, also, he called on the students to retire home to await the outcome of the various efforts on the matter. When it became apparent that the students were not persuaded by the appeal of Okojie, the NUC boss then urged the students to allow him to to the office of the minister to ascertain if he was in, so that a delegation of about five of the students would be allowed to have audience with the minister.
Meanwhile, Tijani Usman Shehu, the national president of NANS, while addressing newsmen at the scene stated that having notified the minister of the need for him to reverse his wrong stand and on the expiration of the ultimatum given him by the students, “we have come to demand the immediate resignation of Mallam Adamu Adamu from the lofty office of minister of education.” Shehu said in order to actualise the demand of NANS, the students have, “mobilized our Students Union Government (SUG) president, national and zonal structures to persistently keep vigil on this premises till this singular resolution of ours is met,” stressing that, “education must be salvaged from the precipice of rot and now is the time.”
However, Adamu and members of the House of representatives committee on Tertiary Education on Tuesday, March 1, clashed over the sacking of five of the 12 university vice-chancellors by the federal government. The VCs being contested include the federal universities of Eyo-Ekiti, Binin Kebbi, Gusau, Gashua and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Adamu told the lawmakers that the former VCs were sacked because there was no law backing their appointments in the first place by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
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