We Demand that Government Meets CASUOSTI’s demands so Students Can Resume Classes
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the Osun State government led by Aregbesola for its brutalization of students who embarked on a peaceful demonstration yesterday at the state capital, Osogbo, to protest the continuous closure of their campuses as a result of government’ refusal to meet striking lecturers’ demands.
In the ensuing stampede following the indiscriminate firing of tear gas canisters and live bullets by the trigger happy policemen apparenly acting on the orders of the state government, about 4 students sustained varying degrees of injuries. According to reports, the students’ union buses were seized by the police and some students arrested and detained. It took the intervention of the Students’ Union leaders for the detained students to be released later in the day.
The ERC stands by the students’ protests. They were demanding that the state government meet their lecturers’ demands so they could resume classes. As far as we are concerned, this demand is legitimate and a serious government that is truly committed to education should not allow its youth to roam the streets when they should be in school studying.
The four state-owned institutions had been under lock and key for over four months now since lecturers organized under the Council of Academic Staff Unions of Osun State Tertiary Institutions (CASUOSTI) downed tools. The reason for their strike comprises issues of funding, pay and working conditions. Instead of meeting their demands, the state government has been engaging in a ridiculous and dubious venture of blackmail and propaganda aimed at browbeating and arm-twisting the striking lecturers into submission. Recently the state government after failing for the umpteenth time to meet the lecturer’s demands ordered the resumption of the institutions. This led to the return of home-weary and frustrated students back to their campuses all infused with the hope that finally the industrial actions had been resolved. However to their chagrin they realized on resuming that the government was merely grandstanding. It had failed woefully to meet any of the demands of the striking lecturers and as a result lectures would not be held.
In anger, students under the leadership of the National association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee (JCC) Osun state axis mobilized and marched to the streets of the state capital, Osogbo yesterday Monday October 12, 2015. Their intention was to protest peacefully to inform the public of their plight and also seek audience with the Governor. Alas, a few metres to the Governor’s office, the praetorian guards of Aregbesola opened fire on the protesting students; sending hundreds scampering across highways and jumping into gutters. When the smoke cleared, many students had suffered injuries and many more had lost phones and personal effects.
Governor Aregbesola’s cup of impunity has run over and all Nigerians with a conscience and especially the labour movement and civil society community must rise up to condemn its evil actions. The almost daily reports of attacks on democratic rights carried out by the government and its agents are alarming. Just few months ago, in the thick of the struggle of Osun State workers and pensioners for payment of their salaries, the Osun state coordinator of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Barrister Alfred Adegoke, was attacked in his office by agents of the Department of State Security (DSS), seriously brutalized and detained for hours. His crime was his and the DSM’s public solidarity with the struggle of workers and pensioners in the state.
If Aregbesola’s human right record is poor, his dealings with labour show a governor who has immense disdain for workers and students. The strike of the lecturers would not have been this prolonged had the Governor being prepared to dialogue with them in good faith.
We condemn the government’s latest assault on the democratic rights of students of Osun state tertiary institutions. We stand with the students in their demand for a quick resolution of the industrial dispute so they can resume classes. We stand with the striking lecturers for their legitimate demands which borders on education funding, staff welfare and conditions and which Aregbesola has failed to meet for months now. We call on Governor Aregbesola to meet CASUOSTI’s demands so that students can resume classes.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary