Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Protests ASUU’s Continued Strike Action
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The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday 26th-July-2022 led a nationwide protest against the continued closure of public institutions in the nation, following strike action by the Association of Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
However, while labour gave the federal government a two-week ultimatum to resolve the crisis, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, joined the demonstration in Lagos, while some governors in their respective states, identified with labour with a view to ending the prolonged ASUU strike.
The labour union, which had earlier threatened to embark on a two-day nationwide strike in solidarity with ASUU, ignored the plea by the federal government over the weekend.
Leaders of different unions, including the NLC, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, Nigerian Union of Teachers and some civil society groups took to the streets in their different states to air their displeasure.
In Lagos, the protesters converged on Ikeja Under at about 7:00am and marched to the State Governor’s office, disrupting vehicular movements around the Ikeja metropolis.
They displayed several placards with inscriptions calling for the immediate resumption of the striking lecturers, and the resignation of the President, Muhammadu Buhari or he fixed the country.
The protesters, through the state Chairman of the NLC, Funmi Sessi, however, delivered a letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House Ikeja to convey their grievances to the federal government.
The letter was received by Lagos State Commissioner for Establishment Training and Pension, Mrs Ajibola Ponle.
Reading the letter, Sessi rejected the idea of an Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and argued that it was one of the ploys by government officials to rob tertiary institution staff in the country.
Sessi also condemned the continuous closure of universities and demanded: “We need the Federal Government to take the necessary steps that could lead to the dissolution of the dispute and by extension, end the current strike,” noting that the government’s responses were discouraging and it was what led to a protest in the 36 states in the country.
Her words: “Our statement is simple. This is just a warning action. If the government fails to conclude all the negotiation and agreement with all the workers in our tertiary education within the frame of two weeks, they will witness more protests and rallies all over the country, they will also witness the annoyance, anger and frustration of Nigerians. This government has pushed so many Nigerians into depression. We say enough is enough, we can no longer bear this hardship again.”
Responding, Ponle thanked leaders of the union for leading a “peaceful rally” in support of ASUU and the students and said, “It is a pleasure to receive this. I will convey your letter to Mr Governor to address on his return. I am sure he will attend to every single matter that is here by the power that he holds as Lagos State Governor. He will convey the letter to the president,” she pledged.
Speaking at the protest venue in Alausa, Falana (SAN) lamented the condition of things in the country and advised the president to resign his position if he was tired of governing.
He slammed the government for allowing the issue to degenerate to the extent of a nationwide strike and threatened there would be a total showdown in the country if the federal government failed to address the grievances of the concerned unions, most especially, ASUU.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who identified with the protesters, urged the federal government to honour the agreement it voluntarily entered with ASUU for the union to call of its strike.
Governor, while addressing members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC Benue Statechapter, described as unacceptable, the inability of the federal government to resolve its issues with ASUU, resulting in students staying at home for more than five months.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Tony Ijohor, SAN, said the Benue State Government, was in full support of the sympathy protest by the NLC as well as other actions it intends to embark upon, while promising to take their grievances to appropriate quarters.
Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Benue, Comrade Godwin Anya, said, the union had decided to take over the issue between ASUU and the federal government, because of the insensitivity on the part of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Business activities, for the better part yesterday, was suspended in Edo State, as the labour movement took to the streets in solidarity protest against federal government’s perceived insensitive over the five months strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions in the university system.
During the protest, there was gridlock in various parts of Benin City, Edo State capital, as well as heavy security presence in various parts especially, at the main campus of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and its Ekheuan campus as the organised labour and Civil Society Organisations staged the peaceful protest.
At the Government House, Acting State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Odion Olaye, said, “We are here in solidarity with our affiliate unions in our universities as directed by the national leadership of NLC through the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting we held on June 30th.
“We believe there is need for the federal government to take action on this, which is the reason for this letter from the National President of NLC to be submitted to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Neghoghase Obaseki.”
Receiving the protest letter, Obaseki, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Osaogbovo Iyoha, lamented the inability of the federal government to resolve the five months old ASUU, promising that the state government would look into the internal strike involving tertiary institutions in the state with a view to fixing a meeting date with the unions.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that the second day of its national protest against the closure of Universities in the country would hold in Abuja, at the Unity Fountain, starting from 7.30 am today.
According to a public notice issued yesterday by Comrade Ishmail Bello, the congress directed all affiliate unions and workers to mobilise in larger numbers and to assemble at the Unity Fountain, venue of the mass protest.
Workers in Rivers State under the umbrella of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Rivers State, in collaboration with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) lecturers and students, yesterday, protested against the federal government’s reluctance to addressing ASUU’s demand.
THISDAY observed that the protesters in their placards at about 9am yesterday, marched from the NLC office in D/Line axis of Port Harcourt, through Ikwerre Road to the State Government House, Port Harcourt, insisting that the federal government should respect the agreement reached with ASUU years ago and reopen the Nigerian universities.
The protesters also declared, “No School for Nigerian children, who has been at home for over five months, no elections in the country.”
Chairman of NLC in the state, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, said Nigerian workers were concerned over the condition of ASUU members and university students in the country, hence the protest.
“We are concerned. It is our matter. The children that are at home are our children. The lecturers and other principal officers of Nigerian universities are our people. They are all members of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
“We are angry about how things are going in this country. Inflation is at highest level; everything has gone the other way. No security and now, no education. So, we are saying enough is enough,” she said.
Rivers State Chairman, Civil Society Organisations, Enefaa Georgewill and Leader of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Rivers State, Levi Sam Okuru, also spoke and pleaded that the federal government to implement the agreement it had with ASUU, so they could to their campuses.
Receiving the protest letter from the NLC leadership, Dr George Nweke, Permanent Secretary in charge of Special Services in the office of the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, noted that the agitation was not just for the students but for all Nigerians welfare.
Kwara State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) joined the national body of the union to stage a peaceful protest yesterday along major streets of Ilorin, the state capital to press home the demands of ASUU by the federal government.
Speaking with journalists at the NLC Secretariat in Ilorin, state chairman of the union, Comrade Aliyu Isa-Ore, said the rally was organised in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members to press home their demand on the need for the federal government to honour their agreement.
He said the federal government had signed an agreement with ASUU some year back on university revitalization and other sundry issues but without any implementation.
In their separate remarks the Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) University of Ilorin, Professor Moyosore Ajao and the Chairman of the National Association of Academic Technologists Union, Comrade Awolola Femi, commended the NLC for supporting their course.
The ASUU Unilorin chairman Prof. Saliu Ajao, also noted that university workers demands was legitimate.
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has pledged to join hands with critical stakeholders and other governors to meet with the President Muhammadu Buhari to find lasting solution to the protracted ASUU strike.
Bello, who was represented by the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja, disclosed this while receiving the members of Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, who were in the solidarity rally with ASUU to the Government House, Lokoja, yesterday.
He lamented that the prolonged ASUU strike has inadvertently affected the academic programme of the various institutions in the country as well as students.
State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Onu Edoka explained that they were in solidarity protest with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the plight of the millions of Nigerian students, who have been at home in last six months.
Ondo State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), also joined its counterparts across the country and mobilised its members for the two-day nationwide protest by the NLC.
Affiliate unions from the Federal Union of University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) and Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa (OAUSTECH) also joined NLC in the protest.
The protesters, who converged at the Military Cenotaph, Adegbemile, Akure, match through A -Division, through NEPA roundabout to the governor’s office, Alagbaka Akure, chatting solidarity songs.
National President of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) and Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Ondo state, Comrade Sunday Adeleye, who claimed the protest was in solidarity with ASUU, said, “ASUU isn’t asking for something selfish. They are only asking for the government to attend to the needs of public universities among others but the Federal government has not yielded to its demands.”
Also, Chairman of Academic Staff Union of University, FUTA, Prof Peter Awopetu, who said government had been insensitive and callous alleged that government has spent billions of naira on politics and power game but nothing on education.
Yesterday’s solidarity protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) created an atmosphere of chaos in Awka, Anambra State.
Though members of affiliate unions of NLC came out for the protest, members of ASUU expressed displeasure about the organisation of the exercise. The solidarity march which started at Aroma Junction ended within 20 minutes, to the displeasure of members of ASUU.
Some members of ASUU, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity said, the NLC compromised in holding the solidarity march, adding that the plan was to block the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, so as to make impact.
But the Chairman of NLC in the State, Mrs Chinwe Orizu, who addressed members of the union called on the federal government to see reasons to open the universities for members of ASUU and students to return to school, as well as appealed to ASUU members to stop the blame game, describing it as distraction to the main protest.
Adamawa State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), joined the protest and proclaimed: enough is enough.
State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Emma Fashe, while addressing workers of various unions in the state at the NLC secretariat in Yola, the state capital, said the labour embarked on two days solidarity protest to give ASUU support over its demands from the federal government.
“Our children have stayed long enough at home, that is why we are joining the nation protest across Nigeria,” he said
The protesters were received by the Head of Service, Mr. Amos Edgar on the behalf of the state governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, and said their demands would be communicated to the governor, who would in return send them to the presidency.
The Gombe State chapter of the NLC, yesterday, at its solidarity protest, boasted they would occupy the major streets in the state capital and finally converge on the Government House, Gombe where they would read their message. State chairman of the congress, Mohammed Adamu Musa, said as much.
But the commissioner of police in charge of the state, Ishola Babaita, said the command had assigned adequate personnel to give protection to the protesters and ensure it was not hijacked by hoodlums.
“I can’t stop them but we will make sure that no hoodlum hijack the protest,” he said and therefore called on the protesters to conduct themselves in an orderly manner during the demonstration
Scores of protesters, yesterday, stormed the Imo State Government House, Owerri, in solidarity with ASUU over their prolonged strike in view of their demands from the federal government.
Governor Hope Uzodimma, who was driving out of the premises at the time of the protest, was forced to stop to declare support for the workers, saying he was in solidarity with them.
The governor breached protocol, stepped out of his vehicle and danced to the chants by the unions and other workers.
“I welcome you all to the Government House, Owerri. I’m also in solidarity with ASUU. The federal government can’t do anything against your interest. The federal government is not insensitive to the plight of ASUU. I call on you to look beyond protest, while you protest. I want you to think of ways to temper justice with mercy. I will do my best to protect workers in Imo State and I urge you to support federal government policies,” he said.
Chairman of NLC in the State, Revd. Philip Nwansi, who addressed the governor called on the federal government to honour the agreement signed since 2009 and return the students to school.
“We are not fighting the government, we are here in solidarity with ASUU as directed by our national leadership. We are here to demand the implementation of the agreement signed in 2009. It is time for lecturers and students to return to the classrooms. The federal government should resolve her differences with ASUU and ensure quality education for our children,” Nwansi said.
ASUU Chairperson for the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Chinedu Ihejirika, also said the rally was to draw attention to the plight of Universities.
Workers in Abia State turned out in their hundreds to protest the intractable industrial dispute between ASUU and the federal government, which is now in its sixth month.
The protest held at the Okpara Square, Umuahia, attracted labour leaders and workers from the various industrial unions affiliated to NLC.
However, the existence of factions in Abia NLC rubbed off on the solidarity rally as it took different dimensions.
While many workers engaged in protest march, the Chairman of NLC, Abia State Council, Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, said what was approved was for workers to hold a rally at a spot without embarking on a protest march due to the present security situation in the country.
He told journalists at the Abia NLC secretariat that the protest rally was justified as the bourgeois in the federal government have failed to resolve the ASUU issue because their children attended universities in foreign countries.
The SSG, who represented Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, told the protesting workers that he was on the same page with NLC over the continued closure of Universities, adding that time has come for the federal government to resolve the matter with ASUU.
Labour members also protested in Kano in solidarity with the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The protesters gathered at Mundubawa roundabout towards Ahmad Bello Way, leading to the Kano State Government House.
The scores of protesters who stormed the street carried placards with several inscriptions such as ‘Stop importation of petrol, refine the refineries’, ‘Nigeria at 60 years of independence, more hunger in the land’, etc.
Delivering his address at the close of the march, NLC leader in Kano, Kabiru Ado Minjibir, stated that the Union in solidarity with ASUU, called on the Nigerian government to meet the demands of ASUU and also pay their salaries for the periods they have been on strike.
“No country can develop without a standard sector of education. The inability of the government to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities is what has led to the strike in our tertiary institution and there is need for intervention.
“The strike has stalled education in the country as the government has refused to meet up with the agreement it voluntarily entered with the union.”
Responding, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who received the protesters at the gate of the Government House, stated that the crisis between ASUU and the federal government was inherited from previous administrations.
He, however, said the Nigerian governors’ forum would ensure that the crisis was permanently resolved while expressing support of the governors to the development of education in the country.
“The situation is unfortunate because the students are affected and could lead to some to bad situations. Parents are not happy, the students are not happy but all Nigerian governors are concerned and want to see the problem resolved. We assure you that the crises will come to an end with the support of the governors’ forum,” Ganduje stated.
Sokoto State chapter of NLC joined its counterparts across the country to protest against the lingering strike embarked upon by ASUU and accused the federal government of nonchalant attitude towards the education sector.
Chairman of the union in the state, Comrade Abubakar Umar, stated this while delivering a letter on behalf of ASUU, to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the state
Represented by the Vice Chairman, Comrade Abubakar Malami, the chairman accused the federal government delegation negotiating with ASUU of insincerity in negotiating terms hence not bothered about the plights of the ordinary citizens of the country.
Receiving the letter on behalf of Tambuwal, Commissioner for Careers and Establishment, Honourable Sani Bunu Yabo, commended NLC for their peaceful conduct and called on the ASUU and the federal government to put the interest of the students into consideration in the ongoing negotiation so as to reach compromise by calling off the strike.
In Bauchi, State chairman of NLC, Comrade Danjuma Saleh, led other members to join the peaceful protest in support of the striking ASUU and other unions in the education sector.
While presenting the letter to Governor Bala Mohammed for onward transmission to President Buhari, the NLC Chairman explained that there was an urgent need for the federal government to quickly do something positive to end the strike action in the education sector of the country.
Receiving the letter, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barrister Ibrahim Kashim Mohammed, who represented the governor, stressed the need for dialogue in resolving the problem and that violence would not lead to a positive outcome.
Akwa Ibom State chapter of NLC yesterday joined the countrywide protest amid heavy police detachment to ensure that the action was peaceful.
Workers in the state had marched from the secretariat of NLC on Atan Ofot street along major streets in the state capital to the Government House on Wellington Bassey Way end.
NLC President, Ayuba Waba, who was represented by the zonal officer, Hon. Uche Nweke and the State Chairman, Comrade Sunny James, delivered their message to the Governor Udom Emmanuel the federal government to quickly resolve the lingering ASUU strike and prevent a total shutdown of the economy.
Emmanuel, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekeuwem, and the Head of Service (HoS), Elder Effiong Essien, promised to deliver their demands to the governor for onward transmission to the federal government.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, yesterday, left protesters speechless, when amid their protest, he announced the approval of an increment in subvention to the state-owned tertiary institutions.
Speaking when he received NLC members Diri said as a government that placed high premium on education, his administration took the decision to strengthen the institutions for effective service delivery.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as saying his administration did not stop the salary of ASUU members in state institutions despite the protracted strike.
He noted that the gesture was part of his government’s commitment to development of the educational subsector.
The Bayelsa helmsman, who described as unfortunate, the current impasse between the federal government and ASUU, said no nation could thrive, when education was not given the priority it deserved, and therefore called on the federal government to take urgent and necessary steps to end the five-month-old ASUU strike.
NLC Chairman in the state, Comrade Bipre Ndiomu, said the ASUU strike was at a huge cost and appealed to the governor to help labour impress it on the federal government to do the needful for schools to be reopened.
Ndiomu said the protest was the first step to ensure that the federal government complied with ASUU’s demands after which labour would embark on a three-day warning strike and an indefinite one if the demands were not met.