ASUU Strike: Labour Grounds Nigeria, Threatens To Stop ElectionsASUU Strike: Labour Grounds Nigeria, Threatens To Stop Elections
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ASUU strike: Labour grounds Nigeria, threatens to stop elections

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ASUU strike: Labour grounds Nigeria, threatens to stop elections

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, made good its threat to shut down the country over ongoing five-months strike by university workers as the first of the two-day protest crippled various states.

The protest, which commenced as early as 6.30a.m with the gatherings of workers in designated locations in every state capital attracted all the 35 affiliates of the NLC including the Non-Academic Union of Allied and Education Institutions, (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), members of the civil societies, students and parents as well as the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

From the South West to the South East, North Central to South South, North East to North West, activities were paralysed as markets, banks, schools and even government offices were shut. Major roads in some state capitals were barricaded by the workers who paraded various inscriptions on their placards. The situation caused gridlocks and resulted in motorists and commuters being stranded for hours.

Student also joined in the protest as they alleged nonchalant attitude and insensitivity of federal government to the plight of the lecturers.

They displayed placards with inscriptions such as: ‘ FG don’t wreck the future of our children’ ‘ ASUU says no to subvention policy’, ‘No to politics with Education, end ASUU Strike’, ‘ Education is a right, not a privilege’, ‘A good government prioritises education before politics’ among others and chanted solidarity and anti-government songs.

However, security agents drawn from the police force, civil defence the military and DSS were at strategic places in a bid to ensure the protest was not hijacked by hoodlum.

The labour leaders who led the protest condemned the lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government to the plights of the masses, especially the ongoing strike embarked upon by ASUU.

As the protesting workers handed letters to governors or their representatives in the various Governors Offices across the country, Labour and CSOs declared that time was ripe to save the future of Nigerians from a collapsed nation, saying “enough is enough to bad governance.”

They warned the Federal Government that there would be no election in 2023 if it fails to reopen and equip public universities.

President of the workers union, Ayuba Wabba, said they embarked on the two-day protest against the ongoing ASUU strike because it is directly affected. He warned that if government failed to resolve the issues after the two-day protest, the congress would resort to a three-day warning strike.

“The two day warning strike is to call for attention and the issues to resolved promptly. The next level is a three-day national warning strike if nothing happens after the protest to show our grievances. These are democratic norms. Everywhere in the world, even as an individual you have the right to air your grievances.

“It is within the provision of our law; it is backed by UN charter for human and people rights; African charter for human and peoples right. It is there in our constitution — section 39, 40. Even the court has pronounced that you don’t require any permission. It is legal and within your fundamental human rights to protest issues.

“When people say it’s illegal, I think people should remember that no condition is permanent. We have had some of our current politicians join NLC to press for similar action in the past. We are not on a solidarity action, we are affected directly.”

Addressing the workers in Lagos, NLC State chairman, Funmi Sessi and human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, lent their voices to the need for the Federal Government to meet the demands of the universities workers within two weeks and insisted that if nothing is done there would be the mother of all strikes.

Sessi alleged the administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari has turned the youths into criminals.

According to her, “this is just a warning protest. If the government failed to conclude all the negotiations and agreements within two weeks, then EndSARS protest of 2020 would be child’s play.

“Governments will witness the annoyance and frustration of Nigerians because they have put people into depression and a condition where they committed suicide.

“We can no longer endure this hardship again. When Buhari took over seven years ago, naira to the dollar was equivalent to N168.00, but today dollar is N680. When they took over, a bag of rice was N7,000 but today it’s N38,000.

“APC likewise told us that they want to rewrite the history of Nigeria, but it’s getting worse day by day. Our children unborn will hear the history when Buhari was the president of this country,” Sessi said.

Falana lamented that the living standard of Nigerians was getting worse by the day. “They have also used this regime to cause hardship for the people. As we gathered here today, terrorism, hardship and recession have taken over the country and President Buhari is junketing all over the world. He has told Nigerians that he’s tired and we are saying in one voice that BUHARI MUST GO. We are fully in support of lecturers in tertiary institutions and other workers. As NLC has said if government fails to meet the demand of the striking lecturers, EndSARS protest would be a child’s play compared to what will happen in the next two weeks because Nigerians are tired and frustrated.

“Don’t let them deceive you that there is no money, they initially budgeted for over N400 billion and later went to the National Assembly to increase it to N6.5 trillion yet they don’t have money to pay the lecturers, but they have money to pay smugglers.”

Falana said Nigerians with the support of labour should ensure that dollar should no longer control the nation’s economy, adding that henceforth nobody should pay in dollar as naira is the country’s currency and legal tender. He noted that labour with the protest has proved that it could provide leadership and hence must be ready to snatch power from the selfish political class.
•Our students becoming kidnapper

Addressing Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi when the NLC and its affiliate unions took their solidarity protest to the Lion Building Government House, NLC chairman, Virginus Nwobodo, lamented that the continued stay at home of the Nigerian students has lured some of the students into Kidnapping and sundry vices. He said the situation was so bad that some of the students kidnap themselves and demand ransom from their parents.

“To the dismay of the Nigerian masses, our children have been out of school now for the past five months and still counting. Every Nigerian is aware of the security challenges we are having. Everywhere, it’s one kidnap case or the other, killing is the order of the day, criminality and so on. So, keeping our children out of school is dangerous; some of these children have turned to kidnappers. Some of them have even kidnapped themselves and called their parents to bring money. Some have indulged in all kinds of criminality, Yahoo and so on. You know this Your Excellency because you have the security report before you.”
•Change we needed has consumed us

Speaking in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, chairman of NLC, Sunny James, lamented that the change Nigerians craved for has left Nigeria and its people worse than expected. He expressed disappointment over the inability of the Federal Government to meet the demands of the university workers after over five months.

Addressing the protesters who converged on the entrance of the Government House, Uyo, he said: “For those of you that looked for change, we have experienced a change in drastic dimensions, the change has come to be worse. Comrades, as we know, for a while now, Nigerian workers who are affiliates of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, and NAAT have been on strike. Negotiations have been going back and forth on the matter with the Federal Government and the negotiations have not brought any result. Therefore, NLC decided to intervene for these reliable affiliates.”

He expressed disappointment that government had yet to constitute a body to resolve the impasse months after it agreed to do so in a meeting with the NLC.

Governor Udom Emmanuel expressed concern over the prolonged strike, adding that any system that cannot ensure continuity is a loser.

The governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, said as long as the strike continues, there would be negative ripples including the capital flight of sending children to other countries and insecurity, as according to him, “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”
•Future Boko Harams

Bauchi State Government, warned the Federal Government to quickly settle demands of ASUU otherwise the country would bequeath bandits and terrorists in the future.

Secretary to the Bauchi State Government, Ibrahim Kashim, sounded the warning when NLC and affiliate unions staged a peaceful demonstration to Government House.

Addressing the placard-carrying workers, Kashim said the unions had sent a strong message to the Federal Government by the peaceful rally to do the needful otherwise Nigeria stands doomed. He said the onus was on the Federal Government to immediately ensure it resolves the five months old ASUU strike.

Receiving a letter from NLC, he promised to deliver it to his boss, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed.

“We understand the purpose why you are here. We are all Nigerians; we know what is going on. We support why you are here. We hope this issue would be settled once and for all so that our children, our brothers and sisters go back to school and be educated like we all are. The world cannot stand still and wait for Nigeria to resolve its own problems.

“Nigeria has to resolve its own problems in the comity of nations by educating the young ones and making them leaders of tomorrow otherwise the country will be bequeath with bandits and terrorists,” Kashim said.
•NGF intervenes

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has set machinery in motion to ensure speedy resolution of the ASUU crisis.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State made the disclosure, yesterday, while addressing NLC members.

“Myself and my colleagues from all the 36 states, irrespective of our party differences, are concerned about the prolonged strike action and we will put our heads together to bring an end to the crisis.”

He also urged the Federal Government to resolve the strike to save the country’s education system from collapse.

“This crisis must be resolved to help save the system, we don’t want system collapse in this country at all,” he said.

According to him, though the government inherited the problem, it should resolve it without further delay.

“Government owe it a responsibility to see to the end of the lingering strike so that Nigerian education will remain intact,” he added.

The State NLC Chairman, Mr Kabiru Ado-Minjibir, urged the Federal Government to immediately fulfil the demands of the university workers to save the system from collapse.

He commended Ganduje for not joining others in implementing the “No Work No Pay” policy.

“We really appreciate the state government under the Governor Ganduje’s administration for your magnanimous approach in not stopping the salary of the teachers of the two state-owned universities. This shows that you are an education-friendly governor,” he said.

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