The Action Democratic Party has charged Governor Abiola Ajimobi to devise every means possible to pay the 23 months salary owed workers of the Oyo State College of Agriculture, Igbo Ora.
The ADP made the plea in a statement signed by Alhaji Lawal Akindele, the Publicity Secretary of the party.
It stated that it is no longer conscionable for citizens of the state to keep quiet in the face of the hardship the workers of the institution faces and the bleak future that steers thousands of students of the institution in the face.
The workers of the Oyo State College of Agriculture have been on strike in the last two months over unpaid salary running into 23 months.
It was the second time the workers will go on strike within few months after government reneged on the promise to clear their unpaid salary after several threats to down tool.
The Action Democratic Party said the plight of workers of the College of Agriculture is disheartening because the state is losing the potentials the college holds for the rapid development of the state.
It said: “Ideally, the College of Agriculture should be treated with utmost attention and seriousness by the government because it holds the key to the rapid development of Oyo State.
“This is because the development of Oyo State depends on how well we manage our comparative advantage in agriculture. If it is well handled, agriculture will provide jobs for our youths, provide cheaper food for the people, be the foundation of industrialisation of the state and generate enormous revenue for the government. Government will therefore have more funds to provide free and quality education, provide health services, provide infrastructure and support the vulnerable members of society especially the very poor, the disabled and the old.”
The ADP stated that the government should treat the Oyo State of College of Agriculture with special attention to provide the manpower that will galvanise agriculture for abundant wealth creation in the state.
It said: “If agriculture is regarded as our comparative advantage, government should give special care to the College of Agriculture. Today, the average age of farmers in Oyo State is 55 years. We must produce young graduates from the college to succeed the aging farmers. Our agriculture is behind in productivity because we have not brought science and technology sufficiently into it. For instance, while one hectare of cassava cultivation in Oyo State gives us an average of four tonnes, the same one hectare produces 14 tonnes in Asia. The difference is Science and Technology which quality education in a College of Agriculture will provide. We can achieve this by producing graduates from the college who have been tutored in the new science and technology of agriculture. These graduates and, indeed students, can also be made to serve as Extension Officers that will bring the best practices in agriculture to the attention of farmers in our rural areas.”
The ADP stated that if the development of Oyo State relies heavily on agriculture as we all know, government should indeed make the College of Agriculture tuition free so that thousands of our youths can be admitted and trained to revolutionize agriculture in Oyo State.
“It is inconceivable that in the area where proceeds of agriculture were used to provide free education as far back as 1956 and construct edifices like the Cocoa House, the Liberty Stadium and the first television station in the black world, we are unable to use agriculture to drive development for the benefit of our people,” the party lamented.
The ADP advised that the government of Governor Ajimobi should review its programmes and place emphasis on the welfare of workers.
It said: “The workers are the drivers of development. There cannot be governance without workers. One therefore wonders how we can claim to be running a government when workers stand unpaid their salaries for 23 long months. What are their wives and husbands expected to feed on? How are their children expected to live and pay school fees? How will they meet the expectations of their extended families in a society where those in employment feed so many mouths beyond their nuclear families?”
The party advised that the solution to the myriad of problems of governance in Oyo State can be addressed by restoring the virtue of compassion in government.
“Government truly has to take hard decisions at times but the virtue of compassion will help government lessen the impact of such decisions on the people,” the party concluded.