UNPAID SALARIES: DSM Osun Holds Public Meeting
UNPAID SALARIES: DSM Osun Holds Public Meeting
By Kola Ibrahim
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State, in furtherance of its campaign for full payment of workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions, had a Public Meeting/Media Briefing on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 at the Olu Osungbohun Hall in the NUJ Press Centre in Osogbo. The public meeting had in attendance members and supporters of the DSM, as well as journalists from electronic and print media including Channels TV, AIT, Raypower, TVC, MITV, Galaxy TV and Western Post newspaper. We extended invitation to other print media, but most of them did not attend.
Prior to this time, we had embarked on mass mobilization for the programme through direct invitation to all known labour unions in the state and the media. We also produced mobilization posters which were posted effectively in Osogbo and Ile-Ife, while we also sent text messages and online invitations across through e-mails and social media.
However about 15 persons including the journalists attended the programme. The low attendance could be attributed to the culture of fear created by the Aregbesola government, which is now using shock troopers, otherwise known as State Boys, to terrorize and intimidate the citizens, especially in Osogbo. Also, the shoddy manner in which the labour leaders are conducting the sit-at-home strike is a source of discouragement for many workers and activists who want to take action. Moreover, many of the labour leaders have abandoned the struggle, which underscore their poor response to the invitation. Many of them no more visit their union secretariats but meet at the Civil Service Club inside the Government House, ostensibly to ‘strategize’ with government officials. Some other union leaders like the NUP, NASU and NUJ leaders, who promised to be present, did not attend.
In spite of all this, we had a successful outing. While we were contemplating what to do with the low attendance, a group of electronic media journalists bombarded the venue and demand to cover and interview us. Consequently, we turned the meeting to a press conference, addressed by the State Coordinator and Secretary. The date of the symposium also coincided with the date fixed by the State House of Assembly for Justice, Oloyede Folahanmi, to appear before the House. The judge had earlier petitioned the House of Assembly over financial atrocities of the Governor and his Deputy, and called on the House to impeach the Governor. The issue generated lots of interests within the state, with the DSM participating in the debate, and calling on the House to initiate open democratic probe of the governor and the government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. We also supported the judge’s democratic right to air her view on issues affecting the generality of citizens of Osun State.
However, the judge did not attend the sitting, rather sending her lawyers to demand a new date and the official response of the governor to her petition. But, the media in search of a serious position of genuine civil societies, were drawn to us, as a result of our consistency and clear position.
In spite of the poor attendance, the programme was a success, on at least two counts. Firstly, our decision to go ahead with the programme in spite of threat of disruption is a major blow to the culture of terror it has created. Prior to the programme, we had received warning from supporters and friends on the possibility of the State Boys and security agents disrupting the programme. Rather than being cowed by this, we had mass posting of posters across Osogbo. Even agents of the DSS, who usually attend our programmes, were visibly absent. Already we have instituted a legal case against the DSS over the last arrest and physical assault of the Osun coordinator of DSM, Alfred Adegoke.
Secondly, the media attention the programme garnered showed how far our activities and campaigns have taken us, in term of making us, though unfortunately, be the only organization consistently and genuinely standing for workers, and against anti-worker policies of Aregbesola. We hope to continue in this respect in the coming period with further activities like media campaign, public meeting, mass mobilization through leaflets and posters, etc. Even, if Aregbesola government pays all outstanding salaries and pensions, this cannot end the woes the government has put the state.
Aside from pay, the abandonment of most of the so-called capital projects, the virtual collapse of social services like education (Osun is now at 34th position in WAEC ranking as against 22nd last year), health care, etc. in the state will further put the government on the defensive. This, in addition to the fact the crisis is not peculiar to Osun but also afflicting some other states cutting across both APC and PDP, has further underscored the need for a mass working peoples’ alternative that will genuinely represent the interests and aspiration of working people and the poor.