How 50 kobo increase in food caused nationwide students protest.

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How 50 kobo increase in food caused nationwide
students protest.

The students went on a rampage and about eight of
them were reportedly gunned down in Zaria.

40 years ago, Nigerian students staged a
protest that till today remains the mother of
all Aluta in the country.

It was a nationwide agitation that brought the National
Union of Nigeria Students (NUNS) into an open
confrontation with the Olusegun Obasanjo led Military
government and the stern looking men of the Nigerian
Army.

The bloody episode which popularized the power of
Nigerian students started in April 1978, when the
government asked the students to make more
contributions by adding 50K to their cost of meal per
day.

The increment meant that their cost of meal would
rise from N1.50 to N2.00.

The then Minister of Education, Ahmadu Ali was at the
centre of the matter until everything collapsed on his
head.

Following the announcement, which didn’t go down
well with the National Union of Nigeria Students,
Segun Okeowo , the then president of the union made
a move to address the issue.

The students held a meeting in Maiduguri, Ilorin and
finally in Calabar before taking a bold step to
challenge the military government on the increment.

All along, Ali was trying to make the students believe
that the increment was made by the Supreme Military
Council and not by the Ministry of Education.

However, when the NUNS realized the government
was not willing to reverse its decision, they resorted to
demonstration and that was the moment things began
to fall apart.

And the Police fired the first shot
The first day of the protest brought the students and
the Police face to face at the University of Lagos
(UNILAG). A student was fired in the leg and bled to
death because Lagos University Teaching Hospital
(LUTH) and Orthopedic hospital, Igbobi refused to
treat him.

That infuriated Okeowo, the national students union
president who immediately sent a message to his
counterparts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the
University of Ibadan and other Federal Universities.

The students’ protests escalated and for over a week,
they engaged themselves in an open confrontation
with the Police and the Army.

Touched by the incident the student shot dead by the
police in UNILAG, the students, went on a rampage
and about eight other students were reportedly
gunned down in Zaria by Nigerian soldiers.

The murder of the students caused more problems for
the government as the students refused to be cowed
by the gun-wielding murderers sent to put the
situation under control.

The protest slogan, ALI MUST GO rent the air as the
Minister of Education was believed to be the cause of
the crisis that led to the students’ deaths.

After one week of the nationwide protest, the Federal
Government shut down all universities and students
were advised to leave the campus.
The Segun Okeowo led students union and the ALI
MUST GO saga remains a notable students led aluta in
Nigeria.

In fact, the history of students unionism in Nigeria will
largely be incomplete without mentioning Segun
Okeowo and the infamous protest that demonstrated
the strength of Nigerian students.