What many agreed was one of the fiercest organised protests by any groups in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in so many years, paralysed the sprawling megacity yesterday when secondary school students went on rampage.
They destroyed property including Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s personal house in expression of their rejection of the state government’s purported education privatisation policy.
And the Oyo State government, citing the protection of public property, has ordered the immediate closure of all primary and secondary schools in the state.
Meanwhile, Waheed Olojede, Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Oyo State and the six other detained leaders of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) officials were released on bail from the Agodi prison after five days of incarceration.
High-powered delegates from the national body of the NLC and NUT and other affiliates had stormed Ibadan since Sunday to show solidarity with the incarcerated union leaders.
Around Oke Ado area, the students after destroying Ajimobi’s house which he had used as his re-election campaign offices and several government property around the Government House and the state secretariat, Agodi, set about damaging branded vehicles belonging to the Oyo State transport service, ‘’Pacesetter Transport Service.’’
Both the sign boards of the office of the wife of the governor and the bill boards of Murhi International Television (Mitv), a private TV station and every other insignia bearing the picture of the governor along Government House, together with other property located in other parts of the city were also destroyed by the angry youths.
Before the bail conditions of the incarcerated union leaders who were later released were perfected, the National Vice President of the NLC, Adelegan Solomon and Chris Uyot, Deputy General Secretary, in company of other union leaders had declared an indefinite strike in the state.
Addressing a large number of union members, who had gathered at the Yidi Road, Agodi- Gate, Oyo State secretariat of the NLC to await their released leaders, Adelegan accused the state government of sponsoring hooligans to attack union members and other citizens who had come to the Iyaganku Magistrate’s Court, for normal business.
Stating the resolve of the national body after due consultation with other stakeholders in the state, the national vice president declared an indefinite strike with immediate effect in the state, insisting that there would not be any going back on the decision until the four-point demands of the union are met by the state government.
Earlier, different solidarity and interest groups had stormed the Agodi Prisons in a convoy of not less than 30 vehicles to receive the incarcerated union leaders.
Immediately, after their release, the groups which included members of the Joint Action Front, Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos and Ladoke Akintola University chapters and Nigerian Union of Teachers, Ogun, Osun and Ondo state chapters burst into solidarity songs to cheer the leaders.
The group later led a procession from the Agodi Prisons to Labour House, causing heavy traffic along the Agodi/Gate -Yidi- Idi Ape road.
Addressing members after exchanging pleasantries with all the union leaders who had come in solidarity, Olojede warned the people of the state to be careful in choosing those to govern them in subsequent elections.
Lending credence to the call for an indefinite strike by all workers in the state, the chairman said: “Enough is enough for work without pay.”
Stating that the solidarity would continue until the demands of the union, as stated by the national body are met, Olojede reaffirmed the shutdown of the state industrially.
He said: “By the power conferred on me as the state Chairman, NLC, I hereby declare an indefinite strike in the state industrially with immediate effect. Our solidarity must continue. We say no more work without pay.”
Urging workers to resume at the NLC Secretariat from today, he continued: “The strike will continue until all our demands are met. Our demands are the immediate withdrawal of all trumped-up charges levelled against us. The state government must also rescind its decision to sell off any public schools in the state.
“proper and adequate funding of the education sector including payment of living wages and other incentives for academic workers and the immediate payment of six months outstanding salaries and all pension arrears.”
Heavily armed security personnel who manned the Agodi secretariat entrance prevented the protesting students from gaining entrance.
The Guardian witnessed what could only be a well-coordinated attack as the students stormed the Oyo State secretariat, Agodi, the All Progressives Congress (APC) state secretariat in Oke Ado and the Magistrate’s Court, Iyaganku Ibadan simultaneously leaving damage on their trail.
Teargas canisters were shot at the students by police patrol men around Queen Elizabeth Way, Dandaru when the students numbering over a 1000 were about to attack an oncoming patrol van.
The state Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, in company of some senior police officers, dispersed about three different crowds of angry students who tried to force their way into the state secretariat, between 1:00 p.m. and3:00 p.m.
In reaction to the violence that greeted the protest and indefinite strike called by the unions, the state government ordered the immediate closure of all primary and secondary schools in the state as a way of protecting the lives and property of the entire citizenry.