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Socialist Party solidarises with striking Osun lecturers

The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN, has called on the Osun state government to meet the demands of the lecturers in the state-owned tertiary institutions. The lecturers commenced strike on Friday.

In a press release signed by the party’s state secretary, Kola Ibrahim, on Saturday, the left-leaning party declared support for the academic workers as they press for the settlement of their salary arrears said to be for 19 months.

Read the full text of the press release.

SPN Supports Lecturers’ Strike in Osun State.

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State Chapter hereby throws its weight behind the strike action being organized by the lecturers in the four (4) state-owned colleges of education and polytechnics. These institutions include: Osun State Colleges of Education in Ilesa and Ila, Osun State Polytechnic, Iree and Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke. The strike is predicated on the deliberate failure of the Rauf Aregbesola/APC government to meet the genuine demands of lecturers.

The lecturers are demanding, among others, immediate end to modulated/half salaries; immediate payment of all outstanding salaries and allowances, running to 19 months; remittance of all arrears of cooperative deductions, pension contributions and union dues; recall of all retrenched lecturers, and improvement in facilities and working conditions in the state-owned tertiary educational institutions.

We of the SPN totally support these demands and call on Aregbesola/APC government to meet these demands without further delay, if it still has any sense of responsibility. It is shameful that the Aregbesola/APC government will still be paying workers illegal modulated/half salaries and pensions, for almost three years. The same government that denies workers their rightful and statutory entitlements gives contractors and banks billions of naira from the state allocations under the guise of paying obviously odious and fraudulent debts. Curiously, many of the projects upon which the debts were incurred have been abandoned or uncompleted.

While the government gives billions of naira to crony contractors and financiers, workers and retirees are denied their salaries and pensions, while social services and infrastructures continue to rot away. The conditions of our tertiary institutions speak volume about how the Aregbesola/APC government has worsened already bad situation. For instance, for almost eight years, no capital project was carried out by the state government in any of the polytechnics, colleges of education and Osun State University (UNIOSUN).

There is a huge shortfall of teaching staff in all the state-owned polytechnics and colleges of education. In many departments in these institutions, there are less than three lecturers. The number of lecturers in the College of Education, Ikere Ekiti is more than all the lecturers in the two Osun state-owned colleges of education. Rather than employ more academic staff, the Aregbesola government embarked on mass retrenchment of teaching and non-teaching staff in these tertiary institutions. This reflects the insensitive and retrogressive character of the Aregbesola/APC government.

Worse still many of the lecturers are placed on casual employment, earning extremely poverty wages. And to add insult to injury, those on regular employment are being owed 19 months’ salary arrears, while various deductions from their salaries such as contributory pension deduction, cooperative dues and union dues are not remitted by the government to necessary quarters.

This has worsened the financial conditions of lecturers in these institutions. Also, the government has failed to pay its own share of pension contributions to the pension administrators, thus placing retirees in serious crisis. Yet, in the last seven and half years, school fees have been increased more than 100 per cent while workers have been forced to embark on strike for more than 2 years of the eight-year rule of Aregbesola government. It is thus not accidental that our tertiary institutions have been riddled with crises.

Given these serial attacks on tertiary education by the Aregbesola/APC government, the lecturers deserve all the support and solidarity needed to achieve victory.

The rot in tertiary education in Osun State is similar to those in other sectors like the health sector. The health sector in Osun State has never had it so bad. Aside serious shortfall in health and medical personnel in health institutions in the state, cost of access to health services have increased astronomically under the Aregbesola government, due to chronic underfunding of the health sector by the government. The main state-owned tertiary health institution in the state, LAUTECH Teaching Hospital has been turned into a semi-privatized institution, as poor people could hardly access services in the institutions, while medical and health workers in the hospital and other health facilities are owed several months’ arrears of salaries.

Primary school and local government workers and retirees have not received June salaries and pensions in August, while government owes workers across the sectors 19 full months’ arrears of salaries and pensions. While working conditions of workers’ plummet, the government could not account for over N200 billion debt incurred and more than N300 billion revenue as uncompleted and abandoned projects litter the state.

As we support lecturers in the state tertiary institutions, we also call on them to take the road of mass action, as the only language the Aregbesola government understand is that of mass action.

Finally, we call on lecturers and working people in Osun State to seek a political solution to the serial attacks launched by the Aregbesola government on workers. SPN is contesting for Governor in the forthcoming Governorship Election in Osun State. We are providing a genuine socialist political alternative to the rot represented by the APC. We call on workers, youth and the masses to support and vote the SPN candidate, Alfred Adegoke in the forthcoming election as a way of ending the rule of poverty, suffering and perfidy represented by the Aregbesola/APC government.

Kola Ibrahim,
State Secretary.

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