Thursday 22 May 2014

Osun tertiary Institutions: Aregbesola Govt. Should Accede to Demands of Striking Workers

·         We condemn the strong-arm tactics of the government
·         We call of striking workers and students to organize united protests

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Osun State Chapter condemns the indifferent attitude of the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola-led Osun State government to the ongoing strike of the teaching and non-teaching staff unions of tertiary institutions in Osun State. The failure of the Aregbesola government to accede to the genuine demands of the striking workers has again knocked a big hole in the much touted education reform of the government. It has actually exposed the barrenness of the so-called ‘education wonder’ of the government.

The strike, which started more than three months ago, has brought tertiary education in Osun State to standstill. More than this, this strike, which is second in the last three years, shows that the Aregbesola government has deep-seated hatred for tertiary education and workers. It is more repulsive that the same demands which caused the previous strike are still unattended to by the government, prompting the current strike.

Moreover, we condemn the directive announcing resumption of schools and ordering striking workers to resume without meeting any of the demands of the workers. This action of the government is to say the least ridiculous. For a government that touts the principle of democracy to resort to anti-democratic method, associated with the jackboot military rule, shows the desperation of the government. This method, which is aimed at inciting students against workers, will surely fail, as it was based on a very poor premise of ‘might is right’. We call on Aregbesola’s government, if it still has any iota of self-dignity to accede immediately to the demands of the striking workers, and allow the schools to resume.

We commend the striking unions, under the banner of CASUOSTI (Council of Academic Staff Unions of Osun State Tertiary Institutions) and non-academic unions, for rejecting the arm-twisting method of the Osun State government. We call on them to take the struggle forward by organizing mass actions including protests, along with students, parents and the poor, across the state. This is the main strategy needed to defeat the government. The attempt of the government to break the strike by threatening striking workers shows that concerted actions are needed. This is why the striking workers need to organize mass activities including public enlightenment through leaflets, posters, etc, rallies and protests across the state.

We also call on student unions in various tertiary institutions in the state not to be hoodwinked by the propaganda and divide and rule tactics of the state government. They should organize, along with striking workers, mass actions to compel governments to accede to demands of the lecturers. This is because the demands of the workers are part of the demands needed to improve tertiary education in the state, which is currently in parlous state. For instance, demand of lecturers for improvement in facilities in tertiary institutions and employment of more teaching staffs are demands that students should be raising, as part of the holistic demands for improvement in education in the state. Students should align with striking staff unions to build a solid force to compel government accede to demands of workers and students. Students should also raise their own demands, especially those relating to adequate funding of education and reduction of school fees in the state tertiary institutions.

In conclusion, the failure of the Aregbesola government to resolve the demands of the striking workers for over three months shows that the government is anti-poor, just like its PDP predecessor. While the Oyinlola/PDP government left education in a state of monumental rot, the current Aregbesola government has only been using propaganda and token policies to divert public resources to private ends. For instance, while government handed over almost one billion naira to a private firm, under the guise of procuring free school uniforms for pupils in the state, the reality is that the government actually duped the state. Currently, parents have to procure the uniforms at a price that is more than twice of the market price. Also, the so-called mega-school project of the government, which has gulped as much as N14 billion, has only seen less than thirty schools, out of over 2, 100 (two thousand and one hundred) schools, being rebuilt. Worse still, tertiary education has continued to deteriorate; reeling from one industrial crisis to another. All this shows the pro-rich character of the government. Only mass struggle of workers, students and the poor can compel the government to concede to genuine demands of the working people.

Oluwole Engels
Osun State Coordinator

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