Vehicular movement was disrupted for hours in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, yesterday, as students of the state owned Niger Delta University, NDU, protested against the prolonged strike by the varsity chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The protest which began at 7a.m., was led by an activist, Ebiserikumo Gbassa. However, the Bayelsa State Government has described the protest as politically motivated. A statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Jonathan Obuebite, accused the opposition of instigating the protest to cause insecurity and a breakdown of law and order in the state. The students who marched through the busy Melford Okilo Road, brandished placards with various inscriptions such as: “ Bring back NDU,” “We are tired of staying at home” “Save NDU,” “We want to go back to school” “ASUU, agree with government, government agree with ASUU,” among others. Meanwhile, there was heavy security presence at the state secretariat complex and Government House as policemen and soldiers cordoned off the road. The protesting students momentarily stopped at the state House of Assembly complex to register their protest before officials of the state governmentled by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Serena Dokubo Spiff, Commissioners for Education and Information, Markson Fefegha and Jonathan Obuebite and the Special Adviser on Security to the State Government, Mr Spero Jack. There was a mild drama when the Secretary to the State Government was to address the students and asked for the leaders of the students, but the students engaged themselves over who should be their spokesman. One of the students, Dee Miting, a student of Philosophy and Religious Studies who spoke on behalf of the students said: “We are protesting because we are suffering and we want to go back to school. We are calling on ASUU and the state government to go back to the table and resolve their differences and we are giving them seven days to do that.” Addressing the students, SSG, Dokubo Spiff while in solidarity with the protesting students, however, blamed the strike on ASUU, which he said had refused to honour their part of agreement with the state government. Spiff said: “I feel your pains, you need not suffer what you are suffering now but it is because ASUU has refused to sit down with the state government to talk.