Federal highway blocked as varsity students’ protest enters second day
The protest by the students of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, entered the second day on Tuesday with some of the demonstrators blocking a federal highway that stretches through Ikole-Ekiti.
The protest which started on Monday morning has seen students march in their scores, demanding the main access road on their campus be rehabilitated. They also want a campus-wide Wi-Fi access and improved healthcare and electricity services.
The students again gathered on Tuesday morning expecting the Vice-Chancellor, Kayode Soremekun, to address and make assurances.
Mr Soremekun arrived at the gate of the Oye-Ekiti campus where the students had gathered around 10 am.
However, the students demanded he should wait for their President Taiwo Fashakin before his address. The VC started anyway.
By the time, Mr Fashakin arrived amid the VC’s address, he received a loud welcome and got a microphone with which he acknowledged the cheers. His arrival forced the VC to pause. Indeed, the students successfully got the VC to start his speech all over again and even say an opening prayer.
Meanwhile, as the VC was addressing students at the Oye-Ekiti campus, the students at the Ikole-Ekiti campus were mounting barriers on the federal highway that passes through the town.
The Ikole students, the President, Mr Fashakin told our correspondent, were angry and had to block the road because the VC did not appear on their campus to address them.
They believed the VC was playing on their intelligence as he could not give definite assurances on the completion of the of the road project, according to the President.
The President said the decision to block the road was a collective one.
However, the VC spoke on the issues that motivated the protest in his address to the demonstrators at the Oye-Ekiti campus.
Our correspondent captured his comments on each of the issues and he is quoted below accordingly.
“Two things are happening about the road, as I speak to you. I am in active engagement with the Federal Ministry of Work, Power and Housing. And what they told me was that they were going to start working last week Friday, I didn’t see them, they said they were going to start yesterday but I think they’ve started today.
Meanwhile, the Ministry also sent a team to me and they recorded me, in which I was thanking the Minister for his efforts. So that’s as far as we’ve gone.
Secondly, because we are thinking that it might take so long before the efforts materialize, we’ve put in place palliative measures to ensure that the road is fine. It’s two measures now.
And if you listened to or read President Buhari’s speech during his visit to Ekiti (APC rally 2018), now there is something to follow up.”
“Let me tell you this, this is a digital generation so I can understand what you are saying. At the moment, we are busy negotiating with one of the service providers but they are asking for something like #20,000,000. So what we are trying to do is to negotiate with them with A view to bringing it down. They cannot just tell us #20,000,000 and we will go and pay #20,000,000. We need to negotiate with them.”
“We will appreciate that the power problem is an issue that continues to affect Nigeria generally. So we are doing our best to solve this problem and what we’ve put in place is a four-hour power supply at the school hostel for the University and that’s because diesel is very very costly.
Meanwhile, we are making efforts, and we are already on the national grid. To use a common phrase, NEPA will by supplying us very soon and I am in talks with the office of the PEDC, namely Mrs Osunbodu and Mr.Osunbodu, who are the present prime managers of the PEDC.”
On the students’ result, the VC said the school now has a portal through results can be accessed electronically. But the students controverted that claim.
The VC did make a definite assurance on the date the road project will be completed, saying he’s is not the contractor. But he said he will provide a further update in a month’s time.
After VC had spoken, the students’ President Fashakin calmed the students and asked they wait for further updates from the Union.