Protests: Govt toying with uprising like EndSARS — NLC

By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Victor Young, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Adesina Wahab, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Wole Mosadomi, Demola Akinyemi, Adeola Badru, Rotimi Ojomoyela, James Ogunnaike, and Shina Abubakar, AKURE

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday began a two-day nationwide protest against the failure of the Federal Government to resolve the strike embarked upon by unions in the nation’s university system, warning the government not to toy with another people’s uprising comparable to the  2020 #EndSARS protest. The strike has lasted five months so far.

NLC, therefore, gave the government the ultimatum to resolve the issues within the two-week time frame President Muhammadu Buhari gave Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, to resolve the matter.

The Congress gave the warning through the chairperson of the Lagos State chapter of the union, Mrs Funmi Agnes Sessy, during the solidarity rally organized in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other unions in the university system yesterday.

“As parents and critical stakeholders in the sector, we are tired of seeing our children and students idling away at home for over five months now. Education is a vital sector that must not be toyed with and handled with levity. It is unfortunate that our leaders who benefited from free, quality education in their days are now the ones killing the sector.

“The ladder they used in climbing to the top, they have removed and thrown away. President Buhari used to be part of protests like this when he was an opposition leader; we are disappointed that a lot of things they promised us are not done. The naira is on a free fall, the standard of living is on the decline and we won’t just sit idly by and allow the future of our children and wards destroyed.

“We are calling on the government to quickly resolve the ongoing strike in our tertiary institutions. Colleges of education, polytechnics and universities have been shut for months; in which sane clime do they allow that to happen? After this protest, if nothing is done within the time frame given the minister by the President, then the nation is going to witness a people’s uprising bigger than what we all saw during #EndSARS protest. Enough of our children being turned into criminal elements,” she said.

Also speaking at the rally which took off from Under Bridge in Ikeja to Alausa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, expressed disappointment that those in authority now, who he described as his age group, appeared to be keen on killing the education sector in the country.

He recalled the good old days that students in tertiary institutions fed on 50 kobos per day, with quality meals.

Falana, who asked Nigerians not to buy the claim of a paucity of funds being peddled by the government, said: “It is not true that the government has no money to fund education and other critical sectors. At the beginning of the year, the government said it would spend N443 billion on fuel subsidies, but now it has increased to N6.5 trillion.

‘’Also, we were told the daily petrol consumption was 32.8 million litres per day and later they said it was 100 million liters per day. If we are to believe their 100 million litres story, it would mean 2,000 tankers are taking the excess 68 million liters daily. Where are the tankers?  Where are they taking such volume to?

He called on the President to stop globe-trotting and hold criminal elements who have milked the country dry tight and recover public funds in their possession.

“I commend the Nigeria Labour Congress for bringing out all workers today (yesterday) to protest against the insensitivity of our junketing president. As we are here now, he is on his way to Liberia to deliver a speech.

“The President is tired, he has said he is eager to go back to Katsina. We are asking him to rush back home,” he said.

Addressing the people, the Lagos Zonal Chairman of ASUU, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, lamented that Nigerian lecturers are the least paid in the world, and also decried the fallen standard of education in Nigeria as a result of the incessant strike.

“A professor in Nigeria earns N460,000 monthly after-tax; that is bad and shameful. We cannot continue like this. Our universities are no longer attractive and competitive. We are tired of being at home and a strike is the last option for us.

“We have an irresponsible and uncaring government.  A government that cares about its people must invest in education, especially university education. This protest is for the struggle for the soul of this country,” he said.

At Lagos Government House, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended them for conducting themselves peacefully during the protest.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Establishment, Training  and Pensions, Mrs. Ajibola Ponle, assured the protesters that he would deliver their message to the President for appropriate action.

“Mr. Governor is unavoidably absent due to urgent state matters. He conveyed his best wishes to you all and thanks you for this peaceful protest,” Ponle stated.

In Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje urged FG to resolve the strike by ASUU and other unions to save the country’s education system from collapse.

Ganduje made the call in Kano yesterday while addressing NLC members protesting the non-resolution of the over five-month-old strike by ASUU.

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

The governor assured that in spite of the strike, the state government will continue to pay the salaries to all university staff.

He told the labor unions that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is moving to resolve the situation, saying “my colleagues and I from all the 36 states, irrespective of our party differences, are concerned about the prolonged strike and we will put our heads together to bring an end to the crisis.’’

In his remarks, the state NLC Chairman, Mr Kabiru Ado-Minjibir, urged the Federal Government to immediately fulfill the demands of the university workers to save the system from collapse.

In Plateau, hundreds of workers defied the state government’s warning not to partake in the solidarity protest organized by the NLC and trooped out to protest the prolonged strike by university staff.

The workers also used the opportunity to call on the state governor, Simon Lalong, to pay earned allowances of lecturers of the state-owned tertiary institutions as well as other categories of staff being owed their salaries.

The protesters gathered as early as 7.30 am at the Secretariat Junction, Jos, even as the State Police Command and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, mobilized their personnel to ensure a hitch-free protest as the people marched to the State House of Assembly to register their displeasure at the continued government’s delay in addressing the plight of university workers.

The University of Jos chapter chairman of ASUU, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, commended the tremendous support from the NLC and other affiliate bodies.

Responding, the speaker of the State Assembly, Yakubu Sanda, who received the protesters alongside some members of the House, noted that the strike by the unions in the university affects everyone in one way or the other, promising that the content of the letter from the NLC would be given to the appropriate House Committee for immediate action.

Niger State NLC Chairman, Comrade Bako Abdulrahman, declared that workers in the state and, indeed, across the country would no longer allow miscreants to determine their destiny any longer and vowed to flush out any administration that failed to improve their lives.

He spoke with journalists yesterday, shortly after the NLC solidarity protest in support of ASUU and against the continued closure of tertiary institutions across the country.

“The PVC is our agent of change. During elections, civil servants and ASUU members are those who are used as returning officers. We have the weapon to deal with them and we have the weapon to bring in those we want to rule us. We cannot allow miscreants to continue to preside over our destiny,” he declared.

Kwara State chapter of the NLC also joined the national body to stage a rally towards pressing home the demands of ASUU and other unions.

Speaking with journalists at the NLC Secretariat in Ilorin, the chairman, Comrade Aliyu Isa-Ore, said the rally was to press home their demands on the need for the federal government to honour their agreement with staff unions.

The Chairman of ASUU, the University of Ilorin , Professor Moyosore Ajao   and the Chairman of the National Association of Academic Technologists Union , Comrade Awolola Femi, commended NLC for supporting their cause.

“ Let the government tell us which of our demands are not legitimate. We have right to ask for what we deserve. Is  it our salary that has not been increased since the last 13 years or our demand for government to make infrastructure available?.We are not robots. Treat us like humans and safe our children from idleness at home,”he said.

Ekiti NLC barricades roads

In Ekiti State, the protest, which attracted other groups sympathetic to the cause of ASUU,   crippled commercial activities and caused traffic gridlock in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, for several hours.

The protesters barricaded some of the major roads, forcing commuters to trek the distance to their various destinations.

Addressing newsmen, the Chairman of NLC in Ekiti State, Comrade Kolapo Olatunde, described the actions of the Federal Government as insensitive, for failing to meet the demands of ASUU.

He warned that failure to resolve the issues would result in the union taking the protest to another dimension by grounding other sectors of the economy to ensure that students return to the classrooms.

His words: “We are protesting today (Tuesday) to demand for the right of our members in the university system ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria University SSANU, National Association   Academic Technologist NAAT and Non Academic Staff Union NASU.

“Workers in the sectors have been home for the past five months and the Federal Government is not doing something about it.

“We want Mr President to know what is wrong about the  university system in the country and probably if he is not aware, but with our coordinated action across the country today, he should know and do the needful.”

We”ll shut down Nigeria, if…

Ogun State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, promised to join the national leadership of the union in shutting down the country if the federal government failed to resolve all issues surrounding the ongoing strike embarked upon by unions in the nation’s public universities.

Members of the NLC in the state had gathered at the state secretariat as early as 7.00 am to carry out the protest held simultaneously across the states of the federation.

The protest, which began from the NLC Secretariat located along MKO Abiola Way in Abeokuta, the state capital moved to Iyana Mortuary, Kuto and terminated at Governor’s Office, Oke -Mosan, where they presented a letter to the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi.

Labour leaders, workers storm Ondo streets

In Ondo State, labour leaders led workers and members of ASUU to protest against the continued closure of tertiary institutions in the country.

The workers, who wore branded shirts, converged on the Alagbaka Cenotaph, where they took off to some popular locations in Akure, the state capital

They chanted solidarity songs as they marched through the popular Oba Adesida Road, Akure, displaying placards with inscriptions, such as “Enough is Enough,”  “End ASUU strike Now,” “It’s time to end the strike”, among others.

Speaking with newsmen, state chairman of NLC, Sunday Adeleye, lamented the lingering strike by lecturers.

Adeleye, who said the strike had crippled tertiary education in the country, called on the federal government to immediately accede to the lecturers’ demands.

Osun NLC wants govt officials to stop sending their children abroad

In Osun State, union members, led by the Vice Chairman, Osun NLC, Comrade Gbadebo Awotayo, moved to the State House of Assembly, where they submitted a letter of protest to the speaker, Timothy Owoeye.

Before handing over the letter on behalf of NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, Awotayo said Nigerians are tired of the impasse between the Federal Government and ASUU, saying those that benefited from free education in the country are frustrating education development.

“We are here to say there must be an end to this strike. We don’t want our children to stay at home any longer, they must prioritize education.  Government must stop political office holders and leaders in the country from taking their children out of the country to study.

“They should enact an Act to stop them from sending their children outside the country, this will force them to prioritize education in Nigeria.”

NLC grounds Ibadan in solidarity with ASUU

Major streets in Ibadan, the Oyo State, were yesterday locked down, as workers filed out in their numbers in solidarity with ASUU over its prolonged strike due to what it described as the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government.

Vehicular movement along Agodi Rioad where Government House is situated and adjourning roads, was a herculean task as workers marched through to register their displeasure over the government’s failure to address the university unions’ demands.

The labour leaders equally vowed to continually advance necessary efforts that would ensure the Federal Government acceded to the demands of ASUU for the benefit of the nation’s tertiary institutions.

Addressing the workers after the peaceful protest at Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan, Governor Seyi Makinde, who was represented by his deputy, Bayo Lawal, said the demands of the labour union would be looked into by appropriately advising the Federal Government.

Earlier, the chairman of NLC in the state, Com. Kayode Martins, said:  “The strike, as you already know, is over the non-observance by government of the agreements it voluntarily entered into with the unions. It has also been about imposition of   IPPIS on the university unions to which they have taken objection with credible reasons.”

In Asaba, the NLC and its affiliate unions marched through the streets of Asaba in solidarity protest with ASUU over the Federal Government’s unwillingness to address its demands.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, chairman of NLC in the state, Comrade Goodluck Ofobruku, berated the Federal Government over the prolonged strike which, according to him, is crippling the country’s university education.

Ofobruku said: “We are appealing to the Federal Government to accede to the demands of university lecturers to allow students return to their classrooms.

“If no compliance by the Federal Government at the end of the solidarity exercises, labour will be forced to shut down the nation’s economy”.

Obaseki appeals to FG

In Edo State, the governor, Godwin Obaseki, called on the Federal Government to, in the interest of Nigerian students, expedite actions to immediately end the five-month-old strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

The governor gave the charge when he received members of Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, who were on a peaceful protest at the Government House, Benin City. yesterday.

Obaseki, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Osaigbovo Iyoha, said the five-month deadlock portended danger for the future of students and university education system in the country.

He said:  “Our universities are on strike to demand quality education for our children. The lecturers did not go on strike because of their interests alone; they are also demanding a better environment for learning.’’

Similarly, organised labour in Bayelsa State, led by Comrade Ebipre Ndiomu, chanted solidarity songs and displayed placards with various inscriptions, “Enough is enough,”Signed the renegotiated draft agreement between ASUU and FG,” “Adopt UTAS in place of IPPIS,” “ Pay Earned Academic Allowance,” “Release revitalization fund,” among others

In Akwa Ibom, the state chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday joined the nationwide protest in solidarity with the strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

The workers protested from NLC Secretariat at Atan Offot, Uyo, to Government House, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo the venue of the peaceful demonstration, chanting solidarity songs.

They also carried placards with several inscriptions, such as “#End ASUU strike”, “Stop proliferation of universities ,”Sign and implement all nogotiated agreements; “Capital No to IPPIS”, “End this unholy Act” and “Revitalize our universities”, etc

Addressing hundreds of protesters, Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Sunny James, expressed disappointment that ASUU had been on strike for five months.

He recalled that a week ago, President   Muhammadu Buhari gave the Minister of Education two weeks marching order to resolve the lingering strike of ASUUU and other unions in the university system.

“Comrades, one week has passed and nothing has happened, that is why NLC decided to fix today (yesterday) for the 36 states in Nigeria to march from the state headquarters of  NLC to Government House to deliver this small letter of official position of Labour on this matter.

Workers protest in Rivers

The NLC in Rivers State stormed the streets of Port Harcourt in solidarity protest against the Federal Government over the persistent ASUU strike and other anomalies in the country.

The chairperson of the union, Beatrice Itubo, while addressing the protesters composed of NLC members, University of Port Harcourt students, Civil Society Organisations and South-South Youths Initiative, stated that the essence of the protest was to get the government’s attention.

Itubo said: “Every one of us is angry with what is happening in the country. Inflation is at the highest level. Everything has gone the other way, security no headway. Education is balderdash. We are saying enough is enough!’’

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