The protest was peaceful
The students of The Polytechnic Ibadan on Tuesday gave the Oyo State government and the institution’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, ASUP, a 24-hour ultimatum to resolve their differences and reopen the school or face major student unrest.
The students gave the warning during a peaceful protest staged to condemn the ongoing strike embarked upon by their teachers since October 2013.
Displaying placards with inscriptions criticising the face-off between their lecturers and government, the students marched from the main gate of the campus, through the Sango-UI road and on other major roads within the axis to air their grievances.
Though no major breakdown of law and order was recorded during the protest, the students were accompanied by the Nigerian Police. The protest, however, disrupted vehicular movement for about three hours.
The president of the Students’ Union of the polytechnic, Iyiola Oladimeji, said the students decided to speak up as they were the ones bearing the brunt of the disagreement.
“We can’t continue to tolerate this continuous neglect. They have to resolve whatever is between them and call off this strike. We are tired of staying at home and wasting away. Students are just idling away,” he said.
Mr. Oladimeji also debunked the claim that they were mobilised by the opposition to stage the protest against the state government under Abiola Ajimobi, saying, “We are not anti-Ajimobi and we are not campaigning against him. We are just here to air our heartfelt grievances so that the general public will know our plight.”
All gates to the state secretariat, except the main gate, were locked and manned by security operatives early Tuesday. The action was preemptive of a possibility of extending the protest to Governor’s Office.
In his reaction, the state commissioner for Education, Solomon Olaniyonu, blamed the lecturers for the crisis.
“They are not supposed to be on strike. They are not doing what they are supposed to be doing,” he said.
According to him, the government was already looking into the lecturers’ demand and had assured them that the demands would be attended to.
However, the chairman of the polytechnic’s chapter of ASUP, Segun Philip, faulted the commissioner’s claim, saying it was the government that had not done what it was supposed to do.
“All our demands have been presented to them and none has been attended to. We have tried all other means to get their attention but they have not worked. So we resolved to embark on that strike since December 2013. There are so many and they have not touched any,” he said.
Among the demands of the lecturers was the appointment of a substantive management for the institution.
“Since November 2011, the management of the school have all been in acting capacity. Acting Rector, acting everybody! The school cannot function at optimum level with that kind of arrangement. Part of our demands is that they deal with that issue too,” Mr. Philip said, adding that his members would resume as soon as their demands were met by the government.
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