The sole purpose of a protest is to openly voice opposition, disagreement, or dissent toward a proposition or course of action, usually one that is political. From solitary declarations to large-scale marches, protests may take many different shapes. In an effort to affect public opinion or government policy, protesters may choose to organise a protest, or they may choose to engage in direct action in an effort to bring about the desired changes directly.
When protests are part of an organised, nonviolent campaign with a specific goal, and incorporate both pressure and persuasion, they go beyond simple demonstrations and are more accurately referred to as civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.
Protests, when it comes to Nigerian students, have largely been non-violent, but always disrupt the flow of the day, drawing the attention of everyone from average citizens to elected officials. The ASUU and FG feud is one that is revisited every few years. Most of the time, it happens because ASUU claims that the federal government reneges on agreements that had been reached at meetings.
Most recently, flights at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport had to be rescheduled as a result of the protest by the National Association of Nigerian students. This is consequent to the on-going ASUU strike that started on February 14 this year. The strike has been in effect for 219 days, making it the second longest strike in the last two decades. Students also plan to block airports in other states as well as major roads and expressways.
These are other major protests that have happened in the last decade:
2015 and 2021, UNN students
In 2021, medical students at the University of Nigeria Nsukka staged a nonviolent protest within the university’s Enugu campus in response to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital’s old facility losing electricity.
A similar protest happened in 2015 by disgruntled UNN students. In order to purchase a new transformer in 2010, the students paid N750 per room, according to the spokesman for the students, Mr. Hope Vikki. He lamented that a few months later, corrupt EEDC officials connected Ankis Breads Factory and some other influential people living on University Market Road, who did not contribute.
Both protests happened within the university’s premises and disrupted classes and day-to-day activities. The students had their way.
2019, LUTH students
On Thursday, April 4, 2019, Dr. Stephen Urueye was fatally stabbed at the gate of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), just a day after his convocation. He was rushed into the hospital but all efforts to resuscitate Urueye at the accident and emergency ward and later, at the intensive care unit failed.
The management, speaking on the incident, urged doctors and student doctors to remain calm over the incident but the students besieged the campus and the streets to protest. LUTH’s main gate was blocked as students demanded a response from authorities as they feared their lives and properties were not secure following the fourth robbery incident in a few months and death of a doctor.
The students felt school authorities and the police were not doing enough to curb these incidences.
2013, UNILAG students over name change
To mark 2012 Democracy Day, President Goodluck Jonathan tried to change the name of the University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University. This was met with resistance by the institution’s students, academic staff, and some alumni. Students stopped attending lectures in protest, even marching on the streets.
The name change was the subject of litigation and protests, which made a court rule that the change was illegal. At the climax of the protests, students commandeered a BRT bus and blocked passage on the Third Mainland Bridge. Lagos, already known for having the worst traffic index in Africa was made worse that day.
In February of 2013, President Jonathan reversed the change of name. The students, again, had their way.
Students do make authorities sit up when they strike for good reasons.