Angry students in Ibeno local government area under the aegis of National Association of Ibeno Students (NAIS) Worldwide last Friday locked up entrance and exist routes to the council secretariat for over three days following their protest over non-payment of bursary and award of scholarship by the local government council for over four years.
The action of the angry students disrupted this year’s Children’s Day celebration from holding in the area as all school children and teachers, members of various voluntary organizations, security operatives, including the Transition Chairman, Mr. Henry Ekpe Nko and his transition committee members were locked out from the council secretariat and venue of the Children’s Day celebration.
Our correspondent who was at the scene of the protest confirmed that, members of the students’ union, comprising both male and female youths barricaded all the entrance routes to the council secretariat with palm font and banner of the association.
Audaciously gathered in their numbers, the students were seen taken over the council premises, singing and dancing to the tune of their drum, displaying placards with inscriptions such as; ‘’No Bursary, no 27 May in Ibeno’’, Oga Chairman, pay us our bursary for four years’’, ‘’Aluta Continua, ‘’ Henry Ekpenko, stop depriving students of their right’’, ‘’Students are tired of your empty promises’’, among others.
Speaking to our correspondent at the scene of the protest, the Vice President of the students’ union, and the Assistant Secretary General, Comrade Benjamin Okpo Eshiet and Comrade Joshua Samuel Akpan, said the protest was as a result of over four years of non-payment of bursary to students from the area after several negotiations with the council chairman on different occasions.
According to them, ‘’we have been having several meetings with the Chairman, writing many letters but we wouldn’t have any positive response from the council. It is three days now since we started this protest but neither the Chairman nor any of his committee members could say anything we want to hear, instead the Chairman is telling us that if we are tired, we will vacate.
“As you can see there is no 27th May celebration here in Ibeno today, we will not get tired until our right is given to us. Come to think of it, we are one of the host communities of ExxonMobil, but it is so sad that the company has never given any of our students the opportunity of Industrial Training in the company. We have been complaining this to the authority of our local government and nothing is done about it’’.
When contacted through phone call, the Supervisor for Education in the area, Mrs. Esther Paul could not be reached as at press time.
Also speaking to our correspondent, one of the school children, Master Idoroeyin Felix, expressed disappointment over the disruption of the Children’s Day in the area, saying he was jealous of children in other local government areas of the State who enjoyed the day without any obstruction.
Some residents of the area who also interacted with our correspondent, described the incident as a big blow to the council administration, the called on the Chairman, Transition Committee to look into the situation, saying such does not speak well of the area.
Meanwhile, security agencies were seen patrolling the scene of the protest to ensure that the peaceful demonstration did not go wild.