HELL was let loose on Monday, when secondary school students in Ibadan went on rampage, protesting proposed privatisation of schools by the state government.
The students, from various schools, came out en masse, heading to major locations like the Magistrates’ Court, Iyaganku, All Progressives Congress (APC) state headquarters at Oke-Ado and the state secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
The students, while speaking, accused the state government of four offences, chiding it over the planned privatisation of schools, non-payment of the salaries of their teachers and other civil servants, and failure of government to account for their payment of N1,000 per term as Education Development levy, hence “our decision to openly come out to defend our future.”
Some of them said it was difficult for their parents to sponsor them during this economic crisis and wondered why the same government now want to privatise their schools.
One of them, who spoke with newsmen, said “my parents have told me that if the government goes ahead to privatise public schools, that it would be the end of my education and I should be ready to learn one skill or other.”
Earlier, men of the Oyo State police command had mounted surveillance within the axis of Magistrates’ Court, Iyaganku, to maintain peace and order.
The situation was, however, put under control, as the detained leaders were not brought to the premises, as their colleagues were running round to perfect their bail paper before their eventual release.
But the situation got worse when some members of the state arm of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who came on solidarity to the court, were denied access to the court premises.
Following their denial of access, members of Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) showed up with various placards.
As soon as the police were successful in controlling that, students, notably from schools around Oke-Ado, Oke-Bola axis went on rampage, chasing their colleagues out of the school environment to join in the call against the policy.
Charged with youthful exuberance, the students, some with casual weapons, went on rampage, chanting anti-government songs, attacked the state secretariat of APC at Oke-Ado, destroying window glasses in the process ant the Mitv station within the Government Reservation Area (GRA) secretariat.
Despite that, the students refused to retreat and were still forging ahead to attack the more. As much as the security agents and party members gathered to chase them away, the students were deviant before police officers mounted guard against them.
At the state secretariat, students, in their hundreds and in batches trooped to the seat of power and occupied the area.
The three main gates to the state secretariat were, however, locked to deny them access to the government’s seat of power.
It took the intervention of Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, to disperse the protesting students, in front of the state secretariat.
We are being harrassed —NLC
Also, in obvious obedience to the order of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to its members, hundreds of civil servants besieged the Labour house and Magistrates’ Court, Ibadan, to follow up on their call for the release of the seven Labour leaders in detention since last Friday.
Speaking at the Labour House, some of the NLC members alleged that they were being harassed by certain members of the public in their several gatherings this morning (Monday), especially at the Magistrates’ Court, Iyaganku, Ibadan.
They said they had resolved to wait at Labour house in anticipation of the release of the detained leaders.
Oyo PDP condemns Ajimobi
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Oyo State chapter, has condemned the action of the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi over the recent privatisation of public schools in the state and the arrest of Labour leaders in the state.
According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the party, Honourable Kehinde Salawu, in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, the governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had let the masses of the state down with his latest ploy to privatise education in the state.
He condemned the APC-led administration for plunging the state to mockery for their inability to carry along stakeholders in his bid privatise schools in the state.
He also berated the governor for the way and manner he treated the Labour leaders after the fallout of the aborted stakeholders’ meeting last week.
Accord, APC trade blame over proposed privatisation of schools
The Oyo State chapter of the Accord Party has condemned the plan by the state government to privatise the management and ownership of public schools in the state in the name of a public-private partnership initiative.
The party, in a statement by its publicity secretary, Dr Nureni Adeniran, said the policy, which ran contrary to the free education campaign promise of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, would add to the miseries of the people of the state, who would be made to pay exorbitant fees to educate their wards.
But ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, countered in a statement by its publicity secretary, Mr Olawale Sadare, that opposition to the policy, particularly from “a section of the labour movement,” was informed by the “erosion of democratic values and rule of law” in the country by long years of military rule.
APC condemned what it called the open confrontation approach adopted by the Labour leaders “against the administration of Governor Ajimobi in recent times,” said the opposition parties might have crept into the labour unions to destabilise the state.
Accord Party, which described the policy “as a disservice to the Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s legacy in education bequeathed to the states of the old Western Region,” chided APC for blaming its failure on the opposition, asking if it was the opposition that was also responsible for the technical university on which a lot of state funds had been expended, but which could not be seen anywhere in the state.