SO THAT ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES CAN RESUME IN STATE-OWNED TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
CONDEMNS REPRESSION OF STUDENT PROTESTS
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the Alhaji Yahaya Bello-led Kogi State Government’s failure to meet the demands spelt out by the staff unions in all the state-owned institutions who have been on strike for several weeks.
We also demand improved funding of public education and provision of adequate teaching facilities at all levels of education in the state.
We equally condemn police violent repression of students who turned out for a protest on Monday 24 April 2017 over the continuous closure of their schools as a result of the on-going strike. Three (3) of the protesting students were arrested and later released. For us in the ERC, the arrest is unlawful and a violation of the students’ fundamental rights. If the Kogi state government does not want protest, all it has to do is to meet the demands of the striking education workers’ so that students can resume their studies.
As far as we are concerned in the ERC, it is the insensitivity of the Kogi state government that has made the striking education workers not to call off their 93-day old strike which has led to the closure of all state tertiary institutions. Students have been at home for over three months now, many of whom have missed their chances for mobilization for National Youth Service, yet with no hope in sight for even the next batch; even law students are already missing chances of going to law school.
All state tertiary institutions have been on strike since the 16th of January 2017 (with the exception of Kogi State University which joined on the 3rd of February due to Examinations going on at the time) over arrears of salary owed them by the government.
We in the ERC believes that the State Government led by the All Progressive Congress (APC) has enough resources at its disposal to meet all the demands of workers in Kogi state and also that of the education workers in the state-owned tertiary institutions, considering the different bailout reportedly accumulating to about forty billion naira (40billion) which the Federal Government has given to every state of the federation including Kogi State.
The demands of ASUU and other staff unions in the state-owned tertiary institutions are what a serious government should have no problem in meeting in order to end the crisis and save students the agony of further disruption in the academic calendar. Unfortunately, and going by his handling of the current strike of education workers in the state, the Yahya Bello-led Kogi state government is an anti-poor government that has no regard for public education or the welfare of workers.
Past and present governments of Kogi State have always hidden under the cover of low budgetary allocation by the Federal Government to the State as reasons for the government’s inability to provide free, functional and quality education for her people. We had seen in the past situation where primary and secondary school students protested to support their teachers when they embarked on a strike that lasted about a year.
It is our contention that the State Government has not shown enough concern about the three month-old strike because politicians’ wards are not affected by the strike. Most moneybag politicians often enrol, using stolen public funds, their children in expensive private tertiary institutions both within the country and abroad while leaving the children of the working class and poor masses to struggle to acquire education in schools that are not fit for learning. This is a signal that unless students are prepared to join forces with the striking staff unions to force the State government to meet their demands, there will be no hope of when the strike will come to an end.
We therefore call for united actions of workers and students in the state to take the struggle to the next level by naming a day of actions beginning with public meetings and mass protest to compel the Kogi State Government to meet the demands of the striking education workers.
We therefore demand that:
• The Yahaya Bello-led Kogi State government must immediately meet the demands of staff unions so that students can go back to school
• Immediate payment of all arrears of salary and pension of workers and retirees in the state.
• Government should put in place measures to ensure the security of students’ welfare and academic activities from further delay and disturbances.
• We demand improved funding of education up to 26% of the budgetary allocation as recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). We are against the 6.5% budgeted for education in the state this year.
• We also demand democratic management of schools to block corruption and mismanagement and to ensure that funds allocated together with Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) are judiciously used for the improvement of public education in the respective schools.
Kogi State Coordinator09034396530