By Lucky Isibor
The Edo state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP has condemned in strong terms the closure of the state College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi.
In a press release signed by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, the PDP described the closure as an act of impunity and lawlessness as it was allegedly done in disobedience of a subsisting court order.
“We are dismayed by the recent announcement that the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, Edo State, has been closed down and the employment of all its academic and non academic staff terminated. All sacked!
“Following the unlawful closure of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, on 8th August, 2017, by armed policemen on the orders of the Godwin Obaseki led APC State Government, the body of academic and non-academic workers as well as students sued Edo State Government and others in Suit no NICN/BEN/08/2018 at the National Industrial Court, Akure. The case was adjourned to 7th June, 2018 for arguments on the claimants’ Motion for a Mandatory order to reopen the College pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court.
“In total contempt of the judiciary and in a clear case of Obstruction of Justice, Edo State Government went ahead to announce the termination of employment of all staff members of the institution. This “slap in the face” of the judiciary must be condemned and resisted,” the statement said.
Lamenting the closure of College of Agriculture and other institutions of higher education in the state, including College of Education, Benin City, State School of Nursing, Benin City and the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City, the PDP accused the APC led Edo state government of toying with the educational future Edo children with the aim of breeding a generation of illiterates incapable of challenging their misgovernance.
“Since the APC government’s ascension to power in 2008, Edo State has suffered closure upon closure of private schools, sack of teachers, education instructors and providers, and criminal increment of school fees and levies. The government has been insensitive to the plight of parents and guardians. The people were deliberately pauperized, put in a traumatized state so that they can be manipulated and their votes purchased on election days.
“Edo State government is toying with the future of the next generation of Edo people by denying them choice and not offering alternatives. It simply implies that the APC government in Edo state is satisfied with a populace not literate enough to question their mis-governance and fleecing of our commonwealth,” the PDP said.
In its reaction, Edo state government described the opposition PDP as being morally compromised and cannot speak when efforts to revamp institutions of higher learning in the state are discussed.
In a statement signed by Crusoe Osagie, the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Communication and Strategy, the government accused the opposition of being responsible for the rot in educational infrastructure in the state.
According to the statement, “an unscheduled visit to the College of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi by Governor Godwin Obaseki and the report of the committee set up by the state government to audit the activities of the institution, revealed heartbreaking and irritating details of the institute, reopened by the Edo PDP.
“But convinced that good leadership the story of the institute around for the better, Governor Obaseki has since sent students of the institute, to the various world class agricultural institutes and companies in the state, namely; the Nigeria Institute of Rubber Research, Okomu Oil Palm Company Nigeria plc, Presco plc, amongst others, to learn the nuances of agriculture.
“Until the closure of the institute, it’s graduates had difficulty securing jobs due to their poor training and terrible rating in the employment market,” the government statement alleged.