ASUU STRIKE: Tension As Time Ticks For NLC 2-Day Protests

ASUU STRIKE: Tension As Time Ticks For NLC 2-Day Protests
  • It’s invitation to anarchy – Lai Mohammed
  • Says no dispute between NLC and FG
  • Presidency dismisses 2-week ultimatum to Ngige

Chika Mefor-Nwachukwu and Caleb Ishaya, Abuja

As the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, proposed two-day solidarity protest in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other university unions gather momentum, the  Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has come out strongly to denounced the impending industrial action as a call to anarchy.

Mohammed, stated this yesterday after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He told State House correspondents that the planned solidarity strike is unlawful considering that the NLC has no dispute with the Federal Government.

According to him, embarking on the scheduled two-day marches amount to political game by the Congress as co-owners of Labour Party, LP.

AljazirahNigeria recalls that the Labour Congress recently announced next Tuesday and Wednesday July 26, 27 for a nationwide protest over the six months ASUU strike that virtually crippled the tertiary education system in the country.

 “While we’re still in Labour, I think we should also start to interrogate what labour is doing. The NLC is not a political party. The NLC can go on strike or protest if the rights of NLC members are involved. What the NLC is planning in the next two days is about interest.

“There’s no dispute whatsoever between the NLC as a body with the Federal Government. Well, yes, that’s a dispute between some members of the NLC, ASUU whatever and the Federal Government which is being looked into. And the NLC itself is a party to the committee that is looking into the solution. So calling out people for a street protests, you begin to wonder, what is the motive of the NLC in this matter?

“But you see here, we do not interrogate what the NLC is doing. The NLC by its own laws, cannot even give out pamphlets. And the NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. Now, if you declare a dispute with us, yes, you can go on strike. Even that one would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not. But this particular NLC, you know, asking and mobilizing people to come out for a  strike on July 26 and 27, is clearly on nothing”.

Besides, the Presidency yesterday dismissed as false media reports quoting President Muhammadu Buhari as giving two-week ultimatum to the  Minister of Education to resolve the dispute between Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities.

Presidential media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, appealed to the media not try to spread misinformation over the ongoing strike by members of ASUU.

Shehu lamented that, “It is a pity that almost all media houses allowed themselves to be deceived by interested sources that are not the authorised spokesmen of government”.

He said the outcome of the meeting held by the president on Tuesday with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies ,MDAs, to end the agitations by university unions ought to be beyond spin-doctoring and conjectures.

“Neither during nor after the meeting was any ultimatum given to the Minister of Education.

“During the meeting, the Minister of Education requested that the Minister of Labour hands off the negotiation to allow him lead and conclude what he had earlier on started with the ASUU.

“And he promised that he could get an agreement within the shortest possible time, possibly two to three weeks.

“In carrying out this assignment, the Minister will carry along all relevant ministries and agencies with statutory functions and duties relating to the issues involved”, he said.

According to Shehu, the Presidency is optimistic that agreements can be reached in an even shorter period if all parties, stakeholders are not unrealistically obstinate.

He, therefore, appealed to the affected parties to work together to end the strikes.

“On the part of the administration, all doors remain open for dialogue and the resolution of the issues.

“We appeal to the media not try to spread misinformation. The orchestrated media narratives seeking to present an entirely different picture, attributed to sources, in the last 24 hours are not helpful at all”, he advised.

Meanwhile, the ASUU National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, on Tuesday while briefing reporters in Abuja, maintained that the union will not back down on the strike by its members across the country, which is currently in its sixth month.

Lecturers in government-owned universities embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, IPPIS, of the government as the payment system in the university sector among other things.

This strike as a result of not keeping the Memorandum of Agreement reached with the government of President Buhari few years ago steaming from the agitated 2009 agreement reached with the last administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and was not implemented. The ruling APC government has been backtracking from the MOA owing to paucity of funds to implement the claims of the university unions. However, many interest groups including the NLC, NBA, Bankers’ union and TUC have indicated interest in joining the scheduled protest because everyone is directly affected. 

Recall that many politicians have been sending there wards abroad for studies and many have graduated and their politicians were exposed by social media celebrating their children’s graduation from universities abroad while the nations public varsities gates remained shut. 

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