BY GBENGA OLARINOYE
OSOGBO— PROTESTING students of tertiary institutions in Osun, yesterday crippled economic and other activities in Osogbo, over continued closure of their schools due to the ongoing strike by the academic and non-academic staff of their institutions.
Workers of the four tertiary institutions owned by the state government had two weeks ago embarked on strike to force the state government to pay a consolidated salary structure to them.
The students in their hundreds stormed the state capital at about 8.00am with Lorries and barricaded the major roads in the metropolis.
The protest caused serious gridlock in Osogbo and its environs.
The students numbering about 2,000 from the State Polytechnic, Iree, state College of Technology, Esa-Oke and the state Colleges of Education in Ilesa and Ila-Orangun appealed to the government to look into the demand of workers with a view to ending the strike.
Reacting to the protest, the state government described the students as “sponsored agents hiding under the guise of minimum wage agitation.”
A statement by Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, from the office of the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, said “the implementation of the new minimum wage will cost the government additional N1.3 billion monthly in addition to the payment of pensions and gratuities put at over N1.7 billion monthly.
“Government will however not fail in its responsibilities to ensure that the generality of the people enjoy infrastructure and other social services. Given the paucity of funds, not every demand of Labour can be met at the same time.”
It is Government’s hope that Labour sees reason and co-operate with Government on its proposals on the Minimum wage issue. This is a workers-friendly government which is concerned with welfare. But it is also in the interest of the workers and the entire people of the state who are not on the payroll of the government, to allow for the development of projects to make life meaningful for all.”
The spokesperson of the protesting students, Oluwaseun Abosede, said that the strike by their lecturers and perceived uncooperative attitude of the state was unacceptable.
Abosede called for urgent dialogue between the government and the unions to ensure immediate academic resumption of academic activities in the institutions.