ASUU STRIKE: NLC Gives FG Two Weeks Ultimatum

ASUU STRIKE: NLC Gives FG Two Weeks Ultimatum
  • Threatens indefinite strike
  • As nationwide protests continue today
  • EndSARS will be child’s play if…
  • Be patient, govt doing its best, Gov Badaru tells NLC

From Rotimi Asher (Lagos), IKHILI EBALU (BENIN CITY), Abdul Salaudeen (Ilorin), Samson Alfa (MINNA), Iniobong  Sunday  (Uyo), Funso Ojo (Akure), Ukandi Odey (Jos)

Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve issues with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU on a warning strike protest in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of the Universities, ASUU, in all the states of the federation with the NLC and its affiliates thronged the cities of major states demanding an end to  almost six months universities shutdown which has affected human development and slowed down the academic calendar of student especially those in the public varsities. AljazirahNigeria correspondents captured the protests at it took place in major cities across the states.

In Lagos, the NLC chairperson, Mrs Agnes Sessy, our correspondent gathered issued a two weeks ultimatum during a solidarity protest in Ikeja, yesterday.

She added that failure to heed their demand will be met with an indefinite industrial action, saying that enough is enough.

The congress and other university unions took to the streets of Lagos to protest the ongoing ASUU strike.

According to her, “If the Federal Government does not resolve the strike within two weeks, there would be a nationwide mass protest. In fact, the EndSARS protest would be a child’s play”, she said.

As a result of the protest, commuters in the Ikeja area of Lagos have been forced to abandon commercial vehicles yesterday to trek, following the gridlock caused by the nationwide protest embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.

The protest is in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, whose members have been on strike for five months

As early as 7:30.a.m yesterday, the NLC procession had gathered at the Ikeja under bridge, with allied unions, monitored by the police.

The protesting workers blocked the Ikeja under bridge roundabout, causing a traffic lockdown that stretched to Awolowo Way.

The protesters marched to the governor’s office at Alausa .

The ASUU Lagos zonal coordinator, Dr Adelaja Odukoya said the union’s own strike was aimed at “reclaiming the country.

“Oil has failed us; education is the only hope for this country. Most of our leaders are illiterate, they don’t value education. We are on the street because the government opened universities without the intention of funding them. Our students can no longer compete around the world”.

He disclosed, he is currently supervising a doctoral student from abroad, whose monthly upkeep alone is more than the salaries of many lecturers in Nigeria, noting that no lecturer had benefited from a salary increase since 2009.

A commuter, Ibironke Olakunle described the Federal government’s approach to the ASUU strike as unresponsive.

“I am in support of the ASUU strike, and this NLC protest. This government is not supportive; it is bad. Everything is expensive now. Food is costly; prices of garri and rice have gone up”, Olakunle said.

To Friday Ugwu, even the trekking due to the NLC protest was not enough to portray the level of anguish in the country.

 Edo State NLC was true to its threat of trooping out en masse in a solidarity protest with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands in order to return frustrated students back to classes, the NLC, yesterday grounded economic activities in some states of the federation including the Edo state capital.

In Edo State, workers from various affiliate unions in tertiary institutions, as well as the National Union of Teachers, NUT, the health sector, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, among other others, marched round Benin City and terminated at the Government House, where they submitted a letter to Governor Godwin Obaseki.

The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ‘University Teachers Deserve a Living Wage;’ ‘Our Children Have Been at Home for Too Long Government;’ ‘Stop Playing With the Lives of Our Future Leaders,’ and Stopping Our Salaries Won’t Deter Us From Fighting for Our Rights.’

Addressing the protesters, acting state chairman of NLC, Odion Olaye said, “We are here on a solidarity protest on behalf of the affiliate unions in universities that have been on strike for the past five months. The NLC president called an emergency National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting where the congress took a resolution that they have put so many efforts at the apex to address the issue by writing to the ministers involved but all to no avail, hence we decided to go on a solidarity protest with the affiliate unions operating in universities with a view to providing solution”, Olaye said. 

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff to Edo State governor, Osaigbovo Iyoha, who received the petition, assured that the letter would be forwarded to the governor for a possible intervention to the lingering disputes between the federal government and the striking workers.

Kwara State chairman of the NLC, Issa Ore disclosed that the labour movement would declare a three-day strike if the Federal Government failed to heed the demands of the striking university workers.

He said the union was disturbed that the strike had made students in public universities idle while the resultant effect was the upsurge in crimes believed to have been perpetrated mostly by the youths.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, ASUU chairman in Kwara State University, Malete, Dr. Sheu Abdulganiy Salau said they were fighting against the rots in the university system for the future of Nigerian students.

Meanwhile, addressing the protesters, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, represented by his Special Adviser on Labour, Comrade Abdulmumeen Onagun, promised to deliver the union’s letter accordingly, adding that the governor was in support of the union’s struggle.

 Similarly, Niger State vice-chairman of the NLC, Abdulrahman Bako accused leaders at all levels of lacking the political will to resolve the crisis in the educational sector.

Addressing protesters at the Labour House in Minna, Bako lamented that despite the agreement between the Federal Government and ASSU, the crisis continued unabated, adding that the lukewarm attitude of the government led to the prolonged strike that crippled university education across the country.

He decried the manner at which the politicians are toying with the destiny of children of poor Nigerians that cannot afford sending their children to private universities.

Bako added that based on the lackadaisical attitude of people in leadership positions, 2023 was the time to vote out bad leaders by using the weapon which is Permanent Voter Cards, PVC.

Akwa Ibom : Protesting members of the  State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, along with other affiliate unions, yesterday defied heavy police presence and marched on to the Government House, Uyo, the state capital.

Led by the zonal officer of Hon. Uche Nweke and the state chairman, Comrade Sunny James, the group delivered a message to the governor for onward transmission to the Federal Government to quickly resolve the lingering ASUU strike to prevent total shutdown of the economy.

The union said the strike became necessary to draw FG’s attention to over five months of shutting academic activities in the university system.

 “If today, we are talking about ASUU, NASU, NATE and other strikes and we know the monies that come around, I have been privileged to be in the House before and I know what I am talking about.

“Monies raised from the sale of forms by the two major political parties and others $20,000 to $50,000 paid to delegates are enough to settle the crises in the university system”.

James urged the state government to be in the vanguard of impressing it on the Government to end the strike once and for all, in the interest of students and national development

However, Governor Udom Emmanuel, represented by Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekeuwem and the Head of Service, Elder Effiong Essien, promised to deliver their demands to the governor, whom they said was out of the state for a function.

Ekeuwem described education as a pivot of development, noting that “the education system needs seamless operations to churn out quality graduates to drive the system.

Ondo State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress yesterday joined their counterparts across the country in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over its five months old strike.

The workers, who turned out in their large numbers in branded shirts, converged on the Cenotaph, Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital, as early as 8:a.m where they took off to some popular locations within the metropolis, chanting solidarity songs.

They displayed placards and banners with inscriptions such as ‘Enough is Enough;’ ‘End ASUU Strike Now,’ among others.

Addressing the protesters, the state NLC chairman, Sunday Adeleye lamented the lingering strike which he said had crippled tertiary education in the country.

He appealed to the federal government to accede to the demands of university lecturers to allow students return to their classrooms.

Adeleye reaffirmed NLC’s commitment to promoting good government, which he said would safeguard Nigerians’ future, particularly those of workers and students

 Plateau State:Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has threatened to shut down the entire country as its ultimate action in solidarity with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, if its two-day protest does not yield the desired results.

Addressing a crowd of the NLC members at the Secretariat Junction Roundabout in Jos yesterday, Plateau State chairman of the NLC, Comrade Eugene Manji said, “What is happening today is a tip of the iceberg. We will not stop until our children return to school”.

Comrade Manji commended all the affiliate unions of the NLC for their support and response to the necessity of the protest, saying that any government that does not invest in the education of its citizens does not mean well and cannot bequeath any legacy for the growth of the country.

In a solidarity message, secretary of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, Comrade Steve Aluko urged Nigerians to stand up and be relentless in seeking a change of the present system. Noting that, education is a right and not a privilege.

Received by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Sanda, the NLC said it embarked on the peaceful protest to indicate its support of ASUU’s demand for proper funding of the universities, and to also reject the proposal by the federal government to introduce tuition fees.

The speaker commended the workers for the peaceful protest, promising that all the issues contained in the address by the national chairman of the NLC as delivered to him would be discussed at the next meeting of the Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly of Nigeria. 

In Jigawa State,  Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, has appealed to the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and other trade unions to be patient as the government is doing all it can to resolve the prolonged strike.

Badaru, made the appeal when he received protesters who marched from the NLC secretariat to the state Government House in Dutse to express their dismay over the prolonged strike by ASUU.

He said that the strike is part of the nation’s challenges like any other challenge facing the country and the solution is to resort to prayers as people of faith.

Jigawa State Secretary of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade Abubakar Alhasan said the chapter joined its counterparts to express dismay at the prolonged ASUU strike.

Recall that ASUU had on February 14, 2022, shut down all public universities after the FG failed to meet its major demands.

Meanwhile, the solidarity protests in favour of ASUU continues across the country today.

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