Transport union workers in Oyo State, under the aegis of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), on Tuesday condemned the use of secondary students for public protest by labour leaders in the state, describing it as an abominable act.
The NURTW members, who were on what they termed ‘walk for peace’ around major roads in Ibadan, were led to the Governor’s Office by the State Chairman of the union, Alhaji Taofeek Oyerinde.
He said that the union was peeved by what he called acts of violence and disturbances spearheaded by labour leaders in their attempt to press home their demand from government, during when he said school children were unleashed to destroy properties.
The chairman said that the union would not allow violence and brigandage to be re-introduced into the state under whatever guise by any individual or group.
Oyerinde said that the union appreciated the achievements and leadership style of the Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, particularly the restoration of peace and security, which, he said, had eluded the state before advent of his administration in 2011.
The NURTW tsar said “We in the transport union hail the governor for his uncommon leadership style and his love for consultation, even in the face of confrontation. He has indeed added value to the lives of the people of Oyo State.
`The NLC should see good reasons for dialoguing with government on the new education initiative, which we believe, is aimed at addressing the falling standard of education. They should go back to the negotiation table and avoid confrontation with the government.
“In the past the NURTW was blamed for every violent act in the state, even when our members were innocent. But since Ajimobi took over in 2011 and reformed us, we no longer foment trouble. It will be a shame for any group or individual to re-introduce violence to the state.”
The NURTW boss appealed to the government and the labour leaders to find an amicable resolution to the current crisis in the larger interest of the public.
In his response, Ajimobi warned that his administration would not allow a repeat of the violence which pervaded the state before 2011, a situation, he said, had typecast Oyo as a ‘garrison’ state.
He commended members of the transport union for their understanding and campaign against violence, expressing happiness that the NURTW, which used to be identified with thuggery and brigandage, had now become apostles of peace.
The governor said, “We don’t want brigandage in this state. We will not allow anybody to bring the state back to the dark days. Oyo is no more a garrison state. It is a place of intellectuals and not of thuggery, innuendos, subterfuge and perfidy.
“It is a thing of joy that the transport union members, who used to engage in violent acts, have now become so refined and understanding to the extent that you are now engaging in campaign against violence. I’m happy for this.
“We are educating our people on the new education initiative and we will continue to do this. But we will not tolerate violence in this state. We want a civilized society and we will continue to work towards it. We are not fighting labor. All we want is dialogue and not brigandage.’’
While reiterating his administration’s commitment to improvement of the standard of education in the state, Ajimobi called for the continued support of the union and the citizenry in propagating what he called government’s genuine intention to raise the falling standard of education.
Ajimobi said that the needless furore instigated by labour leaders in respect of the proposed public-private partnership in the management of public secondary schools was most unfortunate.
The governor, however, maintained that his administration would not be deterred by the distractions because of its determination to ensure remarkable improvement in the performances of students in public examinations through qualitative education.