By Sunday Oguntuyi, Osogbo
Following the prolonged strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Osun State Chapter joined their counterparts across the country in solidarity with ASUU over the five months old strike.
The workers who turned out in their large numbers include members of ASUU and other trade unions.
In the protest which lasted for about four hours had in attendance members of Civil Society Organizations, (CSOs) students and other concerned citizens of the state.
The protesters who converged at the popular Ogo-Oluwa filling station, Osogbo, the state capital of the Osun as early as 8:30 am on Tuesday, proceeded to Osun State House of Assembly and terminated the protest at the Governor’s office, Abere.
Armed with placards and banners with various inscriptions, such as “Our Children deserve better life”, “Enough is Enough”, “Reopen our Universities Now”, “Acced to the requests University workers” among others
Speaking at the State House of Assembly, the NLC Chiarman, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, said there was the need for immediate reopening of the universities.
Represented by his Vice, Comrade Gbadebo Awotayo, Adekomi expressed worry over the prolonged strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and its implications on the future of the Nigerian youths.
“We are here this morning as directed by our National Headquarter, Nigeria Labour Congress under the leadership of Comrade Phillip Wabba who has seen and want to intervene on the ASUU strike.
“You will recall that since 2009 the government of Nigeria made an agreement with the university community, the workers in the university but the government failed to renege on that agreement. Their insincerity led to another strike in 2013 and the whole universities and tertiary institutions in Nigeria were closed down for another six months.
“Since February 14, 2022, public universities have also shut down, the Nigerian government has not done anything tangible to open the universities. They would have opened it if they are critical stakeholders but because they have their children sponsored abroad for their university education, they forgot that the right to education is common man’s right. They left the universities in dilapidated condition– no laboratory, no library and there is serious brain drain in Nigeria as the professionals are travelling abroad for greater opportunities.
“The NLC is saying there must be an end to this strike. That is why we are protesting today to the House of Assembly and Governor’s office, we don’t want our children to stay at home any longer. We want the strike to end now. We want the government to see the funding of our university as a priority. If possible, there should be an act that will stop ministers and others in government from sending their children abroad, then they will be able to take care of Nigerian universities.”
Responding, the Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, RT Hon Timothy Owoeye said it was obvious that the accumulated strikes have contributed to the present situation in Nigeria. He promised to communicate the requests of the Labour unions to the appropriate quarters.
Owoeye said : “I want to tell you that we are into it together as your representatives. We are not happy for keeping our children at home for almost 157 days. I have never seen a developing country playing with the education system as that of Nigeria.
“I want to assure you as said by the Mr President that he has given two-week ultimatum to the Minister of education to put a definite end to strike action that is ongoing in Nigeria. I want to tell you categorically that we from the house of assembly, we are with you.”