Workers of the six state owned tertiary institutions in Oyo State have lamented the pains and agonies that the self sustainability policy of Oyo State government has brought upon them.
In January, 2016, the Oyo State government had reduced the personnel cost of the six state owned tertiary institutions from hundred percent to fifty percent and in March, 2016 to twenty five. This development thereafter led to fractional payment of salaries and unpaid 3-18 months salaries.
The five trade unions had directed all its members to withdraw their services and embark on the suspended strike on January 14, 2019, while on Wednesday, January 22, 2018, the workers took to the streets of Ibadan to register their displeasure over the continued silence and non-challant attitude of Oyo State Government under the leadership of Governor Abiola Ajimobi to the plight of tertiary institutions’ staffers in the state.
The workers are demanding that before the current impasse could be resolved, Oyo State government must be ready to do the needful by restoring payment of 100 percent monthly salaries and release of funds to defray the 3-18 months salary arrears.
The workers of Oyo State owned tertiary institutions who are protesting the Non – payment of their salaries by Oyo State government, carried series of placards which read; “we are dying, our children cannot go to school, we can no longer pay our children’s fees, we have become beggars, pay our money before you leave-Ajimobi, many of our colleagues have died.”
The affected institutions are the Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oke – Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, the Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa, Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo and Oyo State College of Education, Lanlate.
Arising from its meeting of Tuesday, January 29, 2019, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the five trade unions of the institutions, namely; Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics ( ASUP ), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics ( SSANIP), Non – Academic Staff Union ( NASU ), College of Education Academic Staff Union ( COEASU) and Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education ( SSUCOEN) berated the continued indifference of the Oyo State Government.
“We are in pains,” the workers cried out, as they expressed disappointment in the Governor Ajimobi led government for its continued silence over the non- payment of salary arrears and poor funding of education in the State.
Chairman of JAC, Comrade Babatunde Adeniyi vowed to continue the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the workers of the six affected institutions until the backlog of salary arrears were paid.
Comrade Adeniyi, while addressing the press on the industrial action declared by the five trade unions on January 14, 2019, explained that the strike became necessary, following the, “poor funding of tertiary institutions, which has led to infrastructural decay, payment of fractional salaries and accumulation of arrears of salaries of between 3 – 18 months from January 2016 to October, 2018.”
According to Adeniyi, “we are pained that Oyo State government does not feel the pains and agonies that workers of these institutions are going through as a result of our inability not only to free ourselves from indebtedness to the landlords, banks, Cooperative societies, proprietors of schools of our children and many others, but also to discharge our responsibilities to our families and loved ones.”
He posited that Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of education and Monotechnics were bodies saddled with the responsibilities of providing tripartite roles of teaching, research and community service. Comrade Adeniyi added that the rationale behind the public funding of education is to equip the people with requisite knowledge, skills acquisition and capacity to enhance quality of life, augment productivity and capacity to gain knowledge on new techniques for production in order to be able to participate in development process.
In his words, “when a government, therefore, fails to provide qualitative and affordable education for the generality of its people, it is indirectly promoting social upheaval. In Oyo State today, tertiary education is getting out of the common man as a result of the incessant industrial actions that have become the other of the day.”
Government’s thick skin
It appears the Oyo State Government has grown thick skin for workers downing tools, this is not the first time that workers in the state owned Ivory Towers would be embarking on industrial actions, on November 2, 2017, workers of the six owned institutions embarked on industrial action which lasted for three months.
Similarly, the workers embarked on another round of strike action on May 2, 2018 which lasted for 4 months and presently, the workers have commenced another round of industrial action since January 14, 2019.
It is no longer news that the Governor is often referred to as “Constituted Authority,” he got the sobriquet after a protest to the governor’s office by students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), a school jointly owned by Oyo and Osun States.
Viral video showed Governor Ajimobi addressing the students in Yoruba language and in the cause of the altercation, dared the students to do their worst. The students whose institution had been shut for eight months were dismayed at the governor’s reaction despite the state government’s inability to fulfill its financial obligation alongside its Osun State counterpart.