The Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] has reached out to the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi over arrested and detained Labour members.
In a letter titled “REQUEST FOR INTERVENTION”, NLC President Ayuba Wabba asked the governor to intervene and resolve the matter for the interest of justice and industrial harmony.
The letter reads:
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.
We hold the view that the public schools which the Government of Oyo State has put up for sale without due process or the consent of the people is not only ultra vires, it constitutes a betrayal of the people and the ideals for which Chief Awolowo stood.
These public schools were built with the blood and sweat of the people and not a few, including Your Excellency and members of your cabinet, 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.
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.
We call for an amicable resolution of this matter for the interest of justice and industrial harmony.
However, we will not hesitate to call for a national action in support of our members in Oyo State if the State Government fails to see the wisdom in our unsolicited advice.
While we await your response, please, accept the assurances of our highest esteem.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni