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Kogi State Students Aggrieved Over Strike Action

Kogi State Students Aggrieved Over Strike Action

The Kogi State Students after spending a very long time
at home felt the situation has come to normal and that they can get back
to school but everything proved abortive as The government has,
however, fixed June 5 for their resumption.

It  was supposed to be good news for students of Kogi State higher
institutions who have been at home for four months, but it turned out to
be a hoax.
When the students heard about their reopening last week, many rushed to their schools. But they met empty institutions.
 The government denied  making the announcement, saying it has fixed June 5 for resumption.
But the students are unhappy with  the government and their lecturers over the development.
The workers’ strike, which affected schools remain unresolved,
leaving the eight higher institutions shut for almost four months.

Hopes of resumption were raised last week when news broke that the
government and the workers had struck a deal. This was reinforced by
government’s statement penultimate week, warning that it would take
“drastic action” if the institutions were not reopened last May 15.
Apparently excited by the news, the students prepared for resumption.
Many of them returned to school on May 4 in the hope that the strike
would be called off. However, their hopes were dashed when they met
their schools still shut.
The government and the aggrieved workers are yet to reach an
agreement. Students Nigeria gathered that the workers’ unions,
especially the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Academic Staff
Union of Universities (ASUU), vowed to continue with the strike, unless
the government meets their demands.

 Finding the schools’closure as
embarrassing, the government attempted to re-open them on two occasions.
But the workers’ unions, it was learnt,  rejected the move.

The schools, including the Kogi State College of Education
(Technical) in Kabba, College of Education in Ankpa, Kogi State
Polytechnic (KOGI POLY) in Lokoja, School of Nursing and Midwifery in
Obangede, and the Kogi State University (KSU) in Anyigba, were shut when
Students Nigeria correspondent visited last weekend.
At the KSU, the campus was literally a ghost town. Some of the
classrooms and key facilities overgrown by weed. The community residents
had converted some land belonging to the school into farms.
The school’s main gate, which used to be a beehive, was deserted.
There were no security guards at  the gate. Students Nigeria gathered
that some of the guards in the security unit of the school were affected
by the mass sack that trailed the recently-concluded government’s
Enraged by the resumption hoax, the students embarked on peaceful
protest. They condemned the government, academic and non-academic
workers. They expressed sadness over the strike, saying their lecturers
and the government are “inconsiderate and insensitive” to their plight.
They called for immediate resolution of the crisis.
Ilemona Onechojo, a 300-Level Economics student, told Students
Nigeria that KSU students were strike-weary, adding that the continued
closure of their school has rendered many of them useless. If the school
is not re-opened on time, he said, the state might witness increased
crime rate as the students might be forced to resort to crime because of
Ilemona described the sacking of over 200 KSU staff as wicked,
wondering why the government bypassed the Governing Council to screen
the affected employees.
He said: “The government needs to reverse its stance on the
recently-concluded screening of the university workers, because there is
a constituted Governing Council in place to undertake the exercise. I
believe verification or screening of workers of any academic institution
should be the responsibility of the management.”
For Mohammed Abubakar, a Higher National Diploma (HND) II student of
KOGI POLY, it does not matter to him whose fault it is that the
state-owned tertiary institutions were shut. He said those concerned
must reach a compromise, so that the students could return to their
He said: “The continued closure of higher institutions owned by the
state has created a security threat in the state. Many students have
died in this needless strike, because they were at wrong places.
Some resorted to vices and dangerous ventures. Lecturers need to put
themselves in the shoes of our parents, because the strike is having
serious socio-economic impact on the state.”
Some lecturers, who preferred to be anonymous, defended their
actions. They told Students Nigeria that they understood the pains the
students were going through, urging the aggrieved students to direct
their frustration at the government, which they described as “stubborn”.
On its part, the government claimed some schools complied with the
directive to re-open for academics on May 15. The compliant
institutions, according to the government, include Kogi State College of
Education in Ankpa, School of Nursing and Midwifery in Obangede,
College of Health Technology in Idah, and College of Education
(Technical) in Kabba.
But Students Nigeria found the government’s claim misleading when our
reporter visited some of the schools. Academic activities in those
schools remained grounded, with no sign of lecturers on the campuses.
However, Governor Yahya Bello’s Director-General of Media and
Publicity, Kingsley Fanwo, said talks were ongoing with the KSU and Kogi
Poly workers to re-open their campus in line with the government’s
directive. He added that all insitutions would be reopened for full
academic activities on June 5.
As part of efforts to ensure resumption in June, the government’s
spokesman said the workers’ March salaries had been paid, while April
salary would also be paid before resumption.
Fanwo said: “We urge the few schools that are yet to resume to comply
with Gov. Bello’s directive. They need to learn to trust the current
administration on meeting their legitimate demands. We also appeal to
all parents and students to remain steadfast as we work round the clock
to ensure education remains our most cherished industry in the state.
“With our vibrant and competent Governing Councils in place in the
tertiary institutions and the Visitation Panels, we have put in place,
sustainable solutions to possible future disruption.”

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