The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has send a Save Our Soul (SoS) letter the Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State over the inhuman treatment meted out to its members at Ibadan, the state capital, while on a peaceful protest over handover of public schools to the missionaries.
The Labour union, in a press statement, issued to Daily Times reporter in Abuja, stated that the national leadership of the Union, claimed it received the news of the Ibadan threat with dismay as against the rights of Nigerian citizens.
In a release by the Union to the Daily Times, the L:aboutr leaders say, “We wish to express our dismay at the harassment, arrest and detention of our members for peacefully protesting against government’s policy of giving away public schools to individuals or organisations in the guise of Public-Private Partnership.
“Please do permit us to state that the right to peaceful protest against a wrong is guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Labour Laws, ILO Conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory, and Human Rights Laws and cannot be abridged by government”
According to the release before Daily Times, the body held the view that the public schools which the Oyo State government has put up for sale without due process or the consent of the people was not only ultra vires, it constitutes a betrayal of the people and the ideals for which Chief Awolowo stood for.
It said that those public schools were built with the blood of the people and not a few, including the Governor and members of the cabinet, who were grand beneficiaries of this public school system.
To auction out these schools, ‘lock, stock and barrel’, to the highest bidders offends moral decency and social justice as it denies generations of the children of the poor access to education guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended.
NLC President of NLC, Comrade Aliyu Waba says, “Your Excellency may wish to recall that the Federal Government quickly jettisoned this policy in the past when certain elements in the education system foisted it on Unity Schools.
“History, we dare say, will be reluctant to forgive you, if you impose it on the people using garrison powers.
“In light of the above, we strongly urge you to vacate this policy as well as cause to be released unconditionally, all those who have been arrested and detained by the Police and taken to Court. Criminalising labour issues will not be helpful to our industrial relations – conflict resolution process”
The NLC also called for an amicable resolution of this matter for the interest of justice and industrial harmony. However, Labour stated that will not hesitate to call for a national action in support of its members in Oyo State if the State Government fails to see the wisdom in unsolicited advice.