Members of staff and pensioners of the College of Education, now Tayo Akpata University, Ekiadolor, dressed in black attires, yesterday, staged a protest to Government House and demanded the payment of their 11 months unpaid salary.
The angry workers who came out in large numbers, marched to the seat of government to press home their demand. They however left disappointed as no government officials attended to their grievances.
They therefore, threatened to continue with the protest until their demands are met, noting that they are tired of being turned to beggars to meet their family responsibilities.
The Leader of the protesters and President, College of Education Academic Union, COASU, Comrade Fred Omonuwa, said they won’t be blackmail on the alter of politics for demanding for their rights.
“For sometime now, we have been having issues of 11 Months unpaid salaries. We have tried to meet with the governor when the head of service came to speak with us to sheathe our sword. We thought that within two weeks our salaries will be paid but they never listen to us.
“Congress met and decided to come out in peaceful protest to demand for our hard earn salaries including pension and gratuities. We spent couple of hours at government house nobody came out to address us. We believe that a labourer is worthy of his pay and we are going to continue on this path untill our demands are met”, Omonuwa said.
He expressed disappointment with the state government for linking their protest to politics adding that “When they came to our school to placate us not to protest we were not being sponsored. It is just blackmail”.
Reacting to the protest, the state government said it was politically motivated by politicians who are hell-bent on derailing development in the state.
The State Commissioner for Education, Hon. Jimoh Ijegbai, in a chat with journalists, denied the claims by the protesters, saying that not only have arrears owed by the previous administration been cleared, but that the workers are being paid even while they were not working.
He traced the genesis of the agitation by the workers to the policies of former Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who had converted the college to Tayo Akpata University without a clear-cut direction on managing the interest of the workers.
“In 2016, the then Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole announced that the College of Education, Ekiadolor was being phased out and would then be Tayo Akpata University, Ekiadolor.
“Before then, Comrade Oshiomhole had put in a place a policy where the tertiary institutions were going to generate 35 percent of their salaries, while government would contribute the remaining 65 percent. At the end of that administration, the government was owing them 6 months salary arrears”, he said.