Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti

Students of tertiary institutions in Ekiti State, organised by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), have disassociated themselves from an alleged plan by NANS zone D to stage an anti-government protest. They instead have shut down the state capital, Ado Ekiti, staging a support rally for the Governor Ayodele Fayose and his deputy governor, Olusola Kolapo Eleka, ahead of the July 14 governorship election.

The students said they were drumming up support for both Governor Ayodele Fayose and his deputy Olusola Kolapo because of the performance of the state adminstration.

They also denounced being part of an alleged planned protest against the government by a section of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Zone D, for alleged indifference to students’ welfare and the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The students marched in hundreds from the Fajuyi park in Ado Ekiti to the office of the Deputy Governor, and sang solidarity songs in support of Fayose and Olusola.

They displayed placards which inscriptions that included phrases such as ‘Ekiti students support Fayose’, ‘Prof eleka is our choice’, ‘Fayose leads we follow’, ‘we love Fayose’, ‘Ekiti is no 1 in education,’ and ‘Continuity is good for Ekiti, we support it,’ among others.

Addressing the Deputy Governor at his office, the state chairman of NANS, Ekiti, Owolabi Temitayo, denounced the planned protest against the state government by the Zone D NANS, saying such a development did not receive their approval.

Speaking through NAN state treasurer, Francis Amos, he said:

“The students body and youths in Ekiti are here in a courtesy visit and solidarity for your continuity agenda and to also iron out some grey areas, and to put in proper perspectives some statement sent by some that we don’t know and who are not part of us.

“We are here to denounce those who have threatened to stage a protest against the state government. We are not part of this.

“It should not be a shock to anyone if the Nigerian students in Ekiti show support for governor Fayose and his deputy Prof. Olusola Kolapo Eleka. This is because their administration has performed greatly in the state. And we can see all their achievement in excellence in education, construction of many dualized roads, flyover bridge and new ultra modern market, among others. We condemn every activities from the zonal level which has not followed due process or protocol; they never consulted the NANS here before they made their move,” he said.

Osin Sodiq Okikiola, President of the Students Union Government, College of Health Science and Technology, Ijero Ekiti, said:

“We students and the leaders of students in Ekiti have come here to support the continuity agenda of governor Fayose. He is the architect of modern Ekiti who has never failed us. We are here to show that all of us are in support of Fayose and we are not intimidated by anyone from the zonal level and we condemn any miscreants or hooligans who parade themselves as NANS Zone D because we support the government in improving education in the state. We know the great strides you have achieved in education and other areas such as infrastructure and social welfare.”

Ojo Abiodun Collins, who identified himself as the ‘Aluta Controller’ of the Ekiti State University (EKSU), said:

“We are the students who are suffering compulsory stay at home as a result of the ongoing the strike by ASUU, but we are doing everything possible with all other stakeholders to ensure the strike is over. As I speak, all  the issues raised against government by ASUU in Ekiti State have been resolved except the salary arrears, those of PENCOM, and taxes, among others.

“Governor Fayose has been magnanimous enough to reduce the tax fees from the 100% legal rate to 60% for the lecturers. He has assured to give two months subvention to the institution for two months salary payment. We, therefore, call on the ASUU to return to work and not allow politicians opposed to the current government to influence them to delay in resuming. We declare our interest and support for Deputy Governor Olusola.

“On behalf of Nigerian students and all students of Ekiti, we are giving Olusola Kolapo Eleka our support. We don’t know anybody but Oshoko and Eleka who is our next governor of the state.”

Responding to the students, Deputy Governor Olusola, who described them as dynamic, intelligent knowledgeable and understanding young men and women, said:

“There is this information that some people, who are non-stakeholders in education in Ekiti, are coming as a result of illegal support they enjoined from the opposition to protest against this government. But I am highly pleased that you have shown the whole world that you don’t have a problem with the state government. You all know that none of the past governors had shown deep concern for youth growth and education like Fayose. Since the inception of this state we have never performed excellently well like this in education.

“We used to perform below expectation before now; but when Fayose came in his first tenure, he met education in bad shape. With his effort and others the state moved up and improved in NECO and JAMB. In this second term, he has recorded unprecedented success.

“Some who have PhD in War Studies had come and destroyed the sector and sacked teachers. We stepped in and put in some measures which today have made Ekiti restore the old glory and come first back to back in 2016, 2017 in NECO exams.

“We scored as high as 73% from 40%. This shows that we have, at helms of affairs, a man who understands it. The same set of teachers which someone with PhD in war studies described as poor, Fayose has trained to make our students come tops.

“But some non-stakeholders are now saying because of ASUU strike, the government is not doing well for education. We disagree with that and you have also disagreed with them.

“I wish that you will all be greater than myself. We had serious challenges with college of medicine before we came but it has got accreditation under us. Industrial dispute is a normal thing – if a father can disagree with children but after appropriate dialogue they would discuss and agree. We are bound to have divergent views in labour unions. What is happening today in our schools is a minor issue.

“Many of the issues have been resolved: delay in salary payment was caused by bad the economy under Preisident Buhari. We are experiencing terrible recession, while the drivers in the economy sector don’t know what they are doing. The Governor has agreed to pay two months subventions to ensure two months salary arrears for our lecturers. I am appealing to my colleagues, since the government has shifted grounds, that they should suspend the strike. I believe they are reasonable people who love Ekiti.

“To those who are planning protest against the government, it is illegal and unethical for you to disrupt our state even when you don’t have the consent of the student leaders in Ekiti because the issues NANS Zone D raised have been resolved. Bursary payments will soon be made. We had paid all outstanding of the bursary left by the previous government. I thank you for showing solidarity for this government. I want to assure you that the robust partnership and relationship with you will continue. I will remain assessable to you.

“Those who have been rusticated from our higher institutions but are still parading themselves as students leaders are the ones being used to cause crisis in the state by the oppossition…

If you want continuity, what [you] must do is to get your voters card. Mobilize your colleagues across the board to get their voters cards,” he said.