Traders, artisans, students’ union, others troop out to rally support for Ajimobi’s administration •Ajimobi urges labour to return for dialogue •NLC declares 3 days fasting

A tumultous crowd of traders, artisans and others, during a solidarity show for the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, at the secretariat, Ibadan, on Monday. Inset: Governor Ajimobi addressing the crowd.

THE city of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Monday, became the cynosure of all eyes as traders, artisans, students’ union body and other professional bodies converged on the ancient Mapo Hall, Ibadan, to stage a peaceful solidarity rally in support of Senator Abiola Ajimobi led administration in the state.

The solidarity train, which comprised over hundred groups, took off from Mapo Hall, through Beere, Oje, Gate and finally ended the peaceful rally at the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan.

While addressing the mammoth crowd, Governor Ajimobi lauded the commitment and maturity with which the rally was organised, pointing out that the leaders of various groups displayed sincerity of purpose and high sense of maturity.

Ajimobi said that the rally reflected government’s honesty and sincerity on various issues that came up for discussion at the recently held stakeholders’ meeting.

He said: “I want to appreciate the commitment and maturity of each of the groups present here displayed today during this rally. In fact, it was a reflection of honesty and sincerity of purpose, openness and transparency.”

“This rally is in support of our democratic commitment to people of the state and the promise we made when we assumed the mantle of leadership for the second time. Democracy is about discussion, consultation and all of us must participate in it because there is no other way out other than to ensure the continued progress and development of our state and the country at large.

“Dialogue is the potent weapon in any dispute and that is what I have been advocating. It’s good to jaw-jaw instead of war-war, the governor opined.

Speaking on the proposed education policy in the state, Ajimobi reaffirmed that his administration has no plan to sell any of the secondary schools in the state, adding that it was a misconception and misinformation by some enemies of government that the government was planning to sell its schools.

“I am directing you to go back to your various climes and spread the information that the state has no intention of selling our schools but to partner willing members of the society like alumni associations, mission bodies and corporate organisations to rejuvenate our education system in the state.”

“Even the free education policy of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo attracted interventions from private bodies. During former Governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala’s administrations, there was what they called ‘Adopt-a-School policy.’

“So there is nothing new in what we set out to do. We have nothing in mind other than the ultimate goal of re-invigorating our education system.”

Meanwhile, with a view to resolving the ongoing government/labour impasse in Oyo, state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has urged the labour movement to return for negotiations.

Ajimobi made this appeal while addressing associations of motorcyclists, cab drivers, tailors, beauticians, musicians, market women, students, butchers, traditional practitioners association and food sellers, who had thronged state Secretariat, Ibadan, in solidarity with the Ajimobi led government.

“Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people; not government of labour, by labour and for labour. Transparency in democracy is that people come to a roundtable for discussion over any issue. We are not fighting with labour, we appeal to them to come back for dialogue.”

“We can’t cope with our 631 schools, 14,750 teachers, 33,000 classrooms and 436,000 students. Some people have offered to assist us and we have some people against such move!” “They have now abandoned the talk about privatisation of schools to agitate for salary payment. But we had a previous agreement with labour to commit 100 per cent of federal allocation to payment of salaries!” Ajimobi said.

The chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Oyo State, Mr Waheed Olojede, has however, described those who embarked on solidarity rally as mischievous.

Olojede added that the next line of action in the ongoing impasse with government was to seek God’s intervention.

To this end, the NLC has declared three days fasting and prayer to commence on Wednesday.

“Government is just begging the issue. The issue is that workers are hungry and they are owed six months salaries. Government should pay. Those who are on solidarity with government are only being mischievous. They are not being sincere because this issue on education affects them; if government pays salaries, there will be boom in their businesses. We are not deterred with their action. We remain undaunted in emancipating the workers of Oyo State.”

“We have also resolved to go spiritual and seek God’s intervention. That we will do through prayers and fasting from Wednesday to Friday. We trust God will answer our prayers over these issues,” Olojede said.