General news

Protesting college workers, security clash in Benin



Protesting Staff and Pensioners  of the College of Education, now Tayo Akpata University of Education, Ekiadolor, clashed with security officers at Edo Government House in Benin, during a peaceful protest.

The workers, dressed in black attires, are protesting over their 11 months of unpaid salaries and pension on Wednesday.

The clashed occurred when security at the gate to the government house joined by the workers of the state Public Safety and Works Volunteer (PUWOV) Scheme and the State Traffic Management Agency (ESTMA) tried to prevent the protesters from getting close to the gate.

The workers however put up resistance by forcefully pushing back the barricade put up by the security personnel.

The workers however said they would not be deterred by the ploy of the government to force them to stop the protest which has been on since July 20.

Mr Fred Omonuwa, President, College of Education Academic Union (COASU) who led the protest said, “we are law abiding people and will never take laws into our hands’’.

Omonuwa also expressed displeasure with the state government for linking their protest to politics.

“When they came to our school to placard us not to protest we were not being sponsored. It is just blackmail.

“The government has tried to blackmail us by saying we are being sponsored by his political opponents, but will not be blackmail on the altar of politics for demanding for our rights.

“We have been on this protest on a daily basis since July 20, when we started and we are determined to continue with the protest until our demands are met.’’

It would be recalled that the commissioner for education, Mr Jimoh Ijegbai, had denied the claims by the protesters of being owed salaries by the government.

He had noted that not only was the arrears owed by the previous administration cleared, the workers were being paid even while they were not working.

He allegedly linked the genesis of the agitation by the workers to the policies of former Gov. Adams Oshiomhole, who had changed the college to Tayo Akpata University without a clear-cut direction on managing the interest of the workers.

According to him, in 2016, the then gov. Oshiomhole announced that the College of Education, Ekiadolor was being phased out and will then be Tayo Akpata University, Ekiadolor.

“Before then, Oshiomhole had put in a place a policy where the tertiary institutions are going to generate 35 per cent of their salaries, while government will contribute the remaining 65 per cent.

“At the end of that administration, the government owed them six months’ salary arrears.

Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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