…demand payment of 5-months salaries
by Lionel Akpoyivo
Workers from various Edo state-owned colleges of education marched on the government house in Benin city, three days to Christmas. They were protesting non-payment of five months’ salaries. The demonstration was organised by the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU). But non-COEASU workers in the colleges also joined to shut down the government house.
Two weeks earlier, the union had organised a similar protest and also petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPCP). They drew the attention of the commission to the fraudulent misappropriation of N29m by the management of the College of Education Ekiadolor. This was from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) benefits due COEASU members.
Subvention for the payment of two months’ salaries had also been released to the college’s management. But it still failed to pay the workers their wages. The leader of the protesting workers, Comrade Fred Omonuwa “wondered why the government is not asking questions over what happened to the money”.
With pain, as he pointed out that some of the workers had been thrown out of their homes by landlords because they could not pay house rents, he also lamented that “we don’t even know how we are going to pay our children’s school fee come January 2016.” This is a very worrisome situation which should be resisted by all and sundry.
The COEASU-led protest was as a result of the fact that all efforts by the workers to get Adams Oshiomhole, the governor and a former leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress to consider their plight, failed. They lay down on the tarred road in front of the government house gate, damning all consequences, out of anger and frustration.
Socialist Workers League stands by the workers in Edo state defence of their rights to be paid as at when due. The fact that Oshiomhole who rode on the back of his popularity as a leader of workers could perpetuate such anti-workers practice shows us that, working class-people’s emancipation cannot come from the top, through the benevolence of some leaders.
We have to fight for ourselves, break the shackles of the system and build society anew. We must ourselves, through revolutionary struggle from below, win our self-emancipation. Unity of the working class is important in this struggle, SWL thus calls on all workers in Edo state to support this struggle and demand the full payment of backlogs of salaries owed workers in the state.