Last Wednesday, while Nigerians all over the country gathered at places to mark the 20th anniversary of the annulment of June 12 presidential election believed to have been won by late business magnet Chief Moshood Kashimawo Oluwale Abiola, university of Uyo students embarked on a protest to express anger over what they called exorbitant charges and forced relocation of science and Engineering students to the permanent site of the university at Use Offot, Nwaniba without any arrangement for accommodation by the management of the institution.
The protest is second in the present administration led by professor Comfort Ekpo. The first protest was last year when students of the university had protested over hike in fees, lack of water and electricity.The protest like the previous one started peacefully but later turned violent which led to loss of lives and properties worth millions of naira. No thanks to the use of live bullets by the anti-riot policemen sent to quell the protest.Five members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) were killed in a ghastly motor accident along the busy Umuahia-Ikot Ekpene federal road, while coming to initiate peace between the students and the authorities of the University following the riot which erupted last Wednesday.
While we condemn the protest by the students in its entirety, we also condemn the lackadaisical attitude of the management of the university to student’s welfare especially as regards unnecessary increment of fees.The actions of the police must also be condemned as they were not supposed to use live bullets on the students no matter the level of provocation.The students must realize that they are at the university to face their studies and not to cause trouble or be allowed to be used by few individuals to embark on unnecessary protest when they can dialogue with the management of the institution to settle any perceived grievance.
The Management of the university must also realize that they are dealing with students who are predominantly from poor background and that unjustifiable fee increment and other obnoxious policies will easily provoke resistance.The police on their part must realize that their duty is to protect lives and property and not to destroy it at the slightest provocation.We therefore call on the government to immediately set up a panel to thoroughly investigate the crisis, extent of damage to properties and compensation to the families of the victims.All those found guilty in the crisis must be brought to book, so as to serve as deterrent to others.