Commercial activities were disrupted yesterday in Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, the host community of Federal Polytechnic, Oko, when women, most of them in their 80s, took to the streets to protest alleged marginalization against indigenes of the town by the institution.
The protesters also alleged intimidation, harassment and sacking of their people by the institution.
The women, numbering about 200, stormed the streets as early as 7am for the protest.
They held prayer session for God’s intervention to change the minds of their alleged oppressors and intervention of the Federal Government.
The prayer session was held at Oko Civic Centre to round off the protest.
The protesting women, however, refused to carry placards, saying they were responsible parent and did not want to behave like students.
The protesters marched from the Oko Civic Center to the institution’s gate, chanting solidarity songs against the management of the institution.
They later moved to the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Prof. Laz Ekwueme, where they also offered prayers.
Spokesperson of the protesters, Beatrice Nwankwo , said: “Oko Polytechnics is the only Federal Government presence we have, but we do not know what is happening there. Our eyes are full of tears. We are crying because we are supposed to benefit from the institution, but the leadership is giving the impression that we do not have a stake there.
“The school is becoming a source of sadness instead of blessing, just because
somebody who has decided to sit tight, and humiliate our people, while the standard of education is dwindling.
“The students who are living with us are complaining bitterly about what they are going through. The management is only interested in how to make money,” she said.
The women called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the traditional ruler of the community to step into the matter and address their grievances in order to avoid matters getting worse.
The President-General of the community, Hon. Cyprian Nwanmuo, who later addressed the women, said the community had in the past called for the removal of the management of the institution, who he said has failed to carry the people along.
“Oko has knowledgeable people, and if you do not carry us along, there must be problem. The rector that came here six years ago has made us miserable all these years. Many people from Oko have been relieved of their duties. So many widows have been sacked from their jobs in the institution.
“At a time, the palace of the traditional ruler was desecrated by people suspected to have been influenced and encouraged by the management of the institution. We do not have that cordial relationship that should exist between us and the institution.”
Efforts to speak with the rector, Prof Godwin Onu and the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Obini Onuchukwu, were futile, as neither of them was available.
However, the PRO, who later spoke on phone, said he was outside the state, adding that the institution would give an official position on the crisis.
In a related development, residents of Urum Community in Awka North Local Government Area of the state also staged a protest against alleged illegal sales of land by the traditional ruler, Igwe Benedict Nweke.
The protesters numbering over 1,000 carried placards with different inscriptions against Igwe Benedict Nweke, who they alleged sold their land without consultation.
However, while speaking with The Nation, Igwe Benedict Nweke, denied the allegation, saying the government had set aside the land in question for development.(The Nation. Photo credit: schoolgist.com.ng)