Labour unions Wednesday disrupted a stakeholders’ interactive forum on the future of public secondary schools in Oyo State, southwest Nigeria.
Some members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state invaded the Western Hall venue of the forum to chase participants out in the process.
The state’s NLC Chairman, Waheed Olojede, NUT Chairman, Niyi Akano, and the Coordinator of the Joint Action Front, Dr. Ademola Aremu, among other union leaders stormed the venue to prevent any dialogue from taking place.
Some of the participants, who came to represent missionaries at the event, had to scamper to safety as banners were torn while other stakeholders were chased out.
In a swift reaction, the Oyo State government condemned the attack on innocent members of the public describing it as ‘uncivilised and ill advised’.
Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mr Olalekan Alli, said government was not selling any school nor returning any to former missionary owners.
A public affairs analyst and representative of the Joint Action Front, Achike Chude, on Monday, described the on-going protest by students of the Lagos State University (LASU) – over the hike in school fees as a fight for survival.
Appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Chude said the policy was “most irresponsible” of the Lagos government, insisting that education is “about a service that is crucial and important for the well-being of the State”.
He also argued that the controversy over the development of the school and the increase in fees, required will-power on the part of the government to ensure that the citizens got education, no matter what.
“Our leadership, in as much as some of them have been educated within and outside the country, they do not seem to understand the virtue of education. You pay a price if you do not educate your people,” he said, noting that although “education is not enough, it is a way forward”.
Referring to the recent ASUU strike, he stressed that the government had become comfortable based on the inaction of the people for many years and bad governance was helping to radicalise those considered docile.
He made mention of the recommendation of UNESCO which urged governments to set aside 26% of its budget for education, asking that “how much is Lagos State spending on education?”
Chude disclosed that the position of JAF on the matter was for government to reverse the fee to what it was before the protests, as it was the duty of government to inject funds into the system.
“Education should be free in this country, because of where we are and the government capacity.”
Asked why students usually protest any change made in the education system, particularly, any increase in fees, Chude explained that “there is a nexus between the average student and the government institution because he is aware his parents contributed to building that infrastructure”” .
He noted that as long as it was a public institution, people had the right to ask questions.
He further said that the fact that people were sending their children abroad to be educated does not make it a LASU issue. It is a Nigerian one.
“There’s nothing wrong if LASU is a school for the poor,” he said.
The Executive Chairman of the Joint Action Front, Mr. Achike Chude has blamed the federal government for being responsible for the strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He noted that the strike could have been averted if the federal government had not “reneged on agreements that are freely entered into”, while speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
He also lamented the slow pace the federal government is taking in resolving the impasse with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Chude said “it is very unfortunate because if you talk about education, you talk about the life of the nation. You talk about a nation being unable to develop adequately because of the problems in the education sector”.
He urged the federal government to bring in “the essential departments of government that will be affected by that. So you will bring in people from the budget office, education sector and ministries of finance and labour”.
Chude further alleged that some departments in the Lagos State University have only one student.
The police in Lagos on Monday arrested four members of the Joint Action Front (JAF) and leaders of commercial motorcyclists popular called Okada during a rally organised to protest the new Lagos traffic law. The rally was organised by the JAF to protest the new Lagos traffic law.
The protesters were arrested in Yaba area while distributing leaflets to residents.
Those arrested were taken to the Iponri Police Division where they were detained. Three of them were identified as Simeon Aremu, Yusuf Oladimeji and Malik Pappuchi.
The General Secretary of the JAF, Abiodun Aremu condemned the arrests describing it as unjust and an attempt to intimidate the people.
Addressing the crowd gathered at the NLC secretariat annex at Yaba, Mr Aremu said Nigerians will not be intimidated by arrests.
“We are here to tell the Lagos State government that enough is enough. Enough of the humiliation of poor people. The law banning okada is a bad law and the government should rescind it,” he stated.
He urged the people to come out and fight for their rights. “This is the beginning of the struggle to liberate the poor people in Nigeria and the struggle must continue until we win,” he said.
After his speech, the protesters marched round some streets in the area displaying placards with various messages.
“You gave us no job, we gave ourselves one and you are killing us for it.
“They say okada riders are robbers, who gave them guns?” “Fashola, give me my vote back,” the inscriptions read.