Hundreds of aggrieved students of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo (RUGIPO) in Ondo State have protested the state government’s failure to resolve the strike action embarked upon by their institution’s lecturers.
The students stormed the office of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Alagbaka Road in Akure on Tuesday and accused the government of not being sensitive to the plight of their lecturers over their unpaid arrears.
The students claimed that the Akeredolu administration, which has been in power for six months now, is gradually failing in its promises made to the people of Ondo State.
A SaharaReporters correspondent observed that the students marched to Oba Adesida Road and carried placards with inscriptions such as “Governor Rotimi Akeredolu Should Save Our Future,” “Pay Our Lecturers’ Salaries,” “We are Tired of the Incessant Strike,” and “Enough Is Enough.”
Their protest caused a traffic jam on the busy road.
Temitayo Ayejuyo, the president of the Students Union Government (SUG) of the institution, said the strike action declared by the lecturers has crippled academic and social activities on the campus.
Mr. Ayejuyo said the students are worried by the indefinite strike, which could prolong the academic calendar of the state owned polytechnic.
He maintained that the strike could also truncate the future plans of the students if the state government continues to display a lackadaisical attitude to the demands of the students.
The student union leader added that the students of the institution are pleading with Mr. Akeredolu to speedily intervene in order not to lose the support of the students against his All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
Governor Akeredolu, who later addressed the protesting students, said that the state government has not been able to pay the striking poly lecturers because many of the institution’s students have refused to pay their own tuition fees.
The governor said he had met with the rector of the institution, Idowu Ologunagba, and the issue of students not paying their tuition fee was raised.
“[Mr. Ologunagba] was here and he complained bitterly that many of you have refused to pay your school fees, and he advised that we must not allow you to write your examinations until you pay up,” Mr. Akeredolu told the students.
“But I told him that he should allow you to write the papers but the results should not be released. Surprisingly, he said many of you will not even come back for your results.”
Mr. Akeredolu also accused the Academic Staff Union of the Polytechnics (ASUP) of the institution of not initiating talks with the government before embarking on the industrial action.
He told the students to blame the striking union of their school for the current situation which has kept them out of the classroom.
“They [ASUP] are fighting in an illegal way because they are supposed to give notice and time for negotiation. So, when you get back let them know they didn’t follow the right procedure,” the governor said.
Lecturers of the institution, organized under the ASUP, have been demanding for the payment of their arrears accruing over N1.7 billion.