*Students, parents and labour movement must prevail on Senator Ajimobi-led State Government to accede to demands of the striking workers now!
The Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) fully supports Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), the Polytechnic Ibadan chapter on its ongoing strike action to protest against the serious state of infrastructural decay; epileptic power supply; poor staff development programmes; lack of adequate facilities for proper teaching, learning and research; gross insecurity of lives and properties of residents on campus among others. These issues and demands of ASUP are a reflection of poor and inadequate funding of the institution by the APC government in the state.
At the same time the SPN calls on students, parents and the general public to reject the management extension of the resumption date to 20th January, 2014 as this is a ploy by the state government to prevent students from resuming out of fear of the possible supports the ongoing lecturers strike is capable of provoking among mass of the students whom had been victims of many of the rots in the institution.
The SPN calls on the Ajimobi-led state government to stop its fruitless merry-go-round and immediately accede to the demands of the striking workers.
On the 30th December, 2013, members of ASUP polytechnic of Ibadan branch were forced to adopt the option of embarking on indefinite strike action. This was after the state government at different times had refused to acknowledge let alone respond to several letters written by the Union on how to avert the crisis. of gross underfunding and non-payment of outstanding academic allowances among others within the institution.
It is also worthy to note that as a result of the poor funding of public education in Oyo State by successive governments, the polytechnic of Ibadan as well as other institutions of public education in the state are unthinkably bedeviled with serious state of infrastructural decay; epileptic power supply; poor staff development programmes; lack of adequate facilities for proper teaching, learning and research; gross insecurity of lives and properties of residents on campus among others.
Many primary and secondary schools in the state today cannot boast of chairs/tables. Students sit on bare floor, many classrooms turned to swimming pools especially during rainy session due to leaking roofs. In many cases, there are close to 100-140 students in a single classroom, on the average with a teacher responsible for a minimum of six classes across various levels.
Under this kind of ugly circumstances, it is very apparent that proper student monitoring through assignment, tests, and other forms of continuous assessment rarely take place because of the volume of scripts teachers have to contend with. This situation is usually compounded by poor salaries under which all workers in the state groan. As at press time, it so sad to once again reveal that Senator Ajimobi-led government is yet to commence the implementation of N18,000 minimum wage signed into law since March 25th, 2011.
In spite of all the highlighted terrible state of public education in Oyo State, the worse case is that the so called progressive APC government in the state has once again shown through the just approved appropriation bill for the year 2014 that proper and adequate funding of education as well as other needs of the people are less important among their priorities for the year 2014. According to 2014 Budget proposal presented by Senator Abiola Ajimobi on the Thursday, 19th December, 2014 to the state assembly for approval, a paltry sum of N25,680,000, which represent just 27.67% of the total budget of N188.9billion was allocated to fund the entire social services which include health, education, housing among others.
This means that if the so called meager percentage of resources allocated to social service is shared evenly among what constitute social service, it is very clear that, what will go to education, a sector that has no fewer than 56,000 workers and 4 million students will be less than 10% which is less than 13% set aside for general administration, the money/resources set aside to settle and appease political acolytes; employ the services of political thugs among others. In the same vein, the recurrent expenditure which is largely constituted by the salaries and allowances of a handful of political office holders who are less than 1% the Oyo State estimated population of 19million people was allocated a huge sum of N96.041 billion representing 50.9% - the largest percentage of the budget.
These kind of anti-masses breakdown of budgetary allocation for the 2014 fiscal year, once again gives credence to the SPN age-long argument that the poor state of Nigeria's education sector as well as other social services is not a reflection of a state of financial distress of the country rather as a result of the profit-first philosophy which all governments and their representatives regardless of political parties across the country subscribe to.
In view of this, we hereby call on youths, students, workers and the general masses not to be cajoled by the usual lifeless argument by government representatives and spokespersons that the government alone does not have financial muscle to fund education alone as well as other social services. To us in SPN, this argument is unfounded and deceitful! As a matter of fact, if the resources at the disposal of the state no matter how small it is claimed are evenly distributed through diligent investment in the areas of needs of the people, it will be enough to guarantee free and qualitative education at all levels for the entire Oyo State citizen. However, the major obstacle in the path of Nigerians having access to free and quality education as well as better life is the capitalist disposition of Nigeria's ruling elites who dominate the affairs both in the polity and business.
Therefore, to reverse this unbalanced socio-economic arrangement calls for a socialist transformation of Nigeria's economy in which the commanding heights of the economy will be nationalized and placed under a democratic control and management of the working masses. Only a government formed on the basis of this kind of socialist programme can be truly and genuinely committed to investing the resources of the society in social infrastructures and basic social services like health and education through which adequate jobs opportunities can be created for youths.
SPN hereby calls on workers, students, unemployed youths and artisans among others in Oyo State to join us and let us build a genuine socialist alternative to the vicious cycle of misery and nightmare of current iniquitous, anti-poor capitalist system being represented and defended by Ajimobi/APC-led government as well as other capitalist governments across the country.
Abiodun Bamgboye (Abbey Trotsky)
Protem Secretary, SPN Oyo State Chapter