Oyo State Government has ordered the immediate closure of all primary and secondary schools in the state to protect lives and properties of the entire citizenry.
This was sequel to protests by some youths believed to be members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who allegedly attacked the state NLC office following demonstration by the over detention of their leaders.
The government linked the closure to the attempt by some members of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Nigeria Union of Teachers to “expose our staff and students to danger arising from the on-going court action against their members”.
There had been tension in the state over alleged plans by the government to sell some government schools to private investors, an allegation that the state has denied.
According to a government statement last night, “Today’s incident whereby some students and members of the public were once again coerced by labour to disrupt school sessions and engage in an unwarranted public protests and wanton destruction of property is highly condemnable.
“Members of the Public will recall that members of the two bodies (NLC and NUT) and their hired collaborators last week disrupted the stakeholders’ forum organized by the government on the proposed participatory management of some public secondary schools.
“The decision of the leadership of the NLC to declare total strike without existing labour dispute or ultimatum to the government contravenes all known labour laws and conventions.
“It is quite unfortunate that labour leaders at the national level, who ought to know better, also failed to avail themselves of the opportunity of meeting with officials of the state government to clear apparent misconceptions about the intention of the government.
“The state government wishes to state for the umpteenth time that it never had any intention to privatize, commercialize or cede any of its public secondary schools to any individual or group .
“Rather, the intention of the government is to partner willing stakeholders in the participatory management of a negligible number of the public secondary schools, which may not be more than 10 per cent of the existing 631 schools in the end.
“Discussions are still ongoing with stakeholders on the matter and this informed the invitation extended to those concerned, including labour, NUT and other members of the public to come and contribute to the discourse before a final decision is taken by the government.
“The reality of today is that the government alone cannot solve the myriads of challenges confronting education and other critical sectors in the state.
“The unpatriotic role being played by the disgruntled labour leaders and their external collaborators will not proffer solution to the dilapidated state of infrastructure, poor performance of students in public examinations, low morale of teachers and unconducive teaching-learning environment.
“Government will like to remind them that the era of brigandage and wanton destruction of public property has become history in the state and we will resist any attempt by any person or group, no matter their status, to draw us back into the dark era.
“The forceful cooption of innocent school children to partake in today’s baseless streets protest anchored on outright falsehood and rumour is rather unwarranted, shameless and evil.
“We want to use this medium to again advise parents to warn their children and wards not to allow themselves to be used for any unlawful gathering or protest, because law enforcement agents have been placed on red alert to disperse any unlawful assembly.
“Workers who have been directed to embark on strike over a matter that is still in the conception stage should have a rethink and report at their duty posts, while the government intensifies efforts to clear arrears of salary”, the statement stressed.