Economic activities in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja may soon suffer major setbacks, beginning from Monday, following the planned protests by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, DAILY POST reports.
Recall that sequel to the one month strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the association had threatened to block all federal roads in the nation’s capital with protest at two federal ministries on Monday, February 28.
The vice president of the association, Yazid Tanko Muhammad, who spoke with BBC Hausa on Tuesday, threatened that the association would shut down activities in the FCT if the FG and the ASUU failed to end the industrial action within the weekend.
“We will block the roads linking Abuja from Kogi, Abuja from Kaduna and Abuja from Nasarawa States. That means we will block the whole Abuja on that day. We will also block the Federal Secretariat,” he said.
DAILY POST reports that the move would affect many businesses and civil servants, as movements from many satellite areas into the city center may be shut down completely.
This is coming when the territory is battling with security issues ranging from kidnapping, killings and robbery, which have continued to re-occur in some parts of the city despite efforts of the law enforcement agencies.
But speaking with DAILY POST on Saturday, the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Josephine Adeh said the command lacks the legal capacity to stop the students from embarking on a peaceful demonstration, saying it is their fundamental human right.
She, however, assured that the command would deploy resources available in ensuring that the protest is not hijacked by hoodlums and there is no breach of peace in the nation’s capital.
She said, “The Command will not stop anyone from holding a protest, it is a fundamental right, as long as it is peaceful and does not affect other economic activities in the Territory.
“However, the Police Command will be deploying resources towards ensuring the peaceful protest is not hijacked by hoodlums’ ‘.
DAILY POST’s findings also revealed that the protest may escalate to other parts of the country as some activists vowed to join forces with NANS in ending the incessant strike by the academic staff of public universities.
Speaking with DAILY POST, an activist in the FCT, Mr Mark Agbor lamented how ASUU strike has negatively affected learning in Nigeria, saying the union and the Federal Government should find other means of resolving their differences.
According to him, “we will make sure that this strike is not prolonged like the previous ones. For God’s sake, when will ASUU and the Federal Government stop all these problems? There is no year that ASUU will not embark on strike.
“This issue also affected me when I was in school. In 2013, ASUU went on indefinite strike because of the same demand and the strike lasted for over six months. That is half of a year. This is too bad.
“We have started mobilizing for #EndASUUStrikeNow which if the two parties (ASUU and FG) fail to reach an agreement soon, may be worse than the EndSARS protest of 2020.
“They should know that not every Nigerian can afford private universities, particularly with the current economic reality. We want this to end now. We are ready to join NANS”.
Worrying about the current hardship in the territory following the fuel scarcity and the impending protest, a civil servant, Mrs Marian Yakubu told DAILY POST that the move by NANS would further cripple the economy.
“The only news we hear in Nigeria is bad news. Fuel scarcity is still there, going to office is still a big issue in the nation’s capital, now NANS want to block roads, what do they want us to do? Where have we actually gone wrong in this country?
“I’m a parent too and I understand the plight of our children but we don’t settle fight through fight. At the end, it is still the poor masses, including the protesting students that will still suffer. NANS should calm down, let’s face the fuel scarcity which the government imposed on us,” he said.
A taxi driver, who identified himself as Danjuma, said movements would be terrible if NANS is allowed to block those roads, saying it would inflict more hardship on residents.
“We are trying to come out of the fuel situation which the FG imposed on us and now another problem is already facing us. May Allah help us. Things are going to be terrible for Abuja people”, he said.