ASUU Strike: Labour Poised To Shutdown Nigeria With Two-Day Protest

ASUU Strike: Labour Poised To Shutdown Nigeria With Two-Day Protest

  • Protest In Line With NEC Decision, Says Labour
  • Don’t Hurt Next Generation For Goodness’ Sake- Buhari

Come July 26-27, 2022, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is set to ground socio-economic activities in Nigeria to protest the continued industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

This, NLC disclosed is in line with the decisions of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of NLC on June 30 to stand in solidarity with the trade unions in the Nigeria public universities and others.

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The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba made this known in a circular jointly signed by Emmanuel Ugboaja, General Secretary of the Congress on Sunday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the circular which was issued on July 15, was addressed to the Chairpersons and Secretaries of NLC State Councils.

ASUU and other trade unions in the education sector have been on strike for over five months over the alleged failure of the government to keep to the agreement entered with the unions.

The demands of the striking workers include issues bordering on funding of universities, salaries and earned allowances of lecturers.

According to Mr Wabba, the planned protest is in line with the decisions of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC.

“We have scheduled as follows the National Days of Protest to get our children back to school and support our unions in Nigeria’s public universities fighting for quality education.

“The dates are on July 26 and 27 at all the state capitals of the federation and Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and take off point are at the NLC State Secretariats and the Labour House, Abuja.

“You are requested to immediately convene the meetings of your SAC to disseminate this information and to fully mobilise workers in the states for this very important protest for good governance, ’’ he said.

Also, in a separate statement, Mr Wabba faulted the Federal Government’s purported rejection of the Nimi-Briggs Committee report of the university-based union’s negotiations.

According to him, the alleged action is consistent with the fundamental principles of the ILO Convention Number 98 ratified by Nigeria, whose core principle is Negotiation in Good Faith.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress is concerned about reports widely disseminated by the media both online and traditional, positing that the Federal Government may have rejected its own Nimi-Briggs Committee.

“That is on the premise of alleged disparity between the pay rise allocated to university teaching staff and the non-teaching staff.

“First, we wish to posit that the purpose for setting up the Nimi Briggs Committee was to conform with the fundamental principles of the rights of trade unions to collective bargaining as guaranteed by ILO Convention Number 98 which Nigeria has ratified.

Mr Wabba pointed out that one of the cardinal principles of collective bargaining was the Principle of Negotiation in Good fate.

He noted that elements of the principle included conducting genuine and constructive negotiations.

Mr Wabba, however, noted that since the government set up the Nimi-Briggs Committee to make recommendations on the review of the salaries of workers in Nigeria’s universities, the unions and NLC had been kept in the dark on the report of the Committee.

According to him, it is a shocker to read from the media snippets of a report of what is strictly the product of a negotiation between the Federal Government Committee and the concerned trade unions.

“Our first response is to aver that this development gravely betrays and undermines the principle of negotiation in good fate as it manifests crass disrespect by the government for trade unions in Nigeria’s universities,’’ he said.

He said the Congress, therefore, demanded that the Federal Government should immediately conclude the ongoing negotiation with trade unions in Nigeria’s universities.

He also called on the government to be prepared to commence the implementation of whatever Collective Bargaining Agreement arising from it.

“They should also immediately pay the salaries of striking university workers which had been frozen on the premise of the so-called “no work no pay” policy, especially as recommended by the leaders of Nigeria’s two major faiths,’’ he said.

Earlier, Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate Of Nigeria (SAN), decried the reluctance of the federal government to fund higher education while spending trillions of naira on other projects.

Falana said this in a statement reacting to the current strike by ASUU.

The Matrix had earlier reported that ASUU has been on strike since March to protest the no-implementation of its demands some of which relate to funding.

The government and the lecturers’ union have had several meetings but are yet to reach a compromise. On Monday, Buhari said he hoped ASUU would “sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike”.

“Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness’ sake,” he said.

Falana, in his statement, said the “claim of the Federal Government that it lacks the financial resources to fund university education has been taken with a pinch of salt by the Nigerian people”.

“Having regard to the way and manner huge public fund has been expended on other projects it does appear that the Federal Government has not prioritised higher education,” he said.

“For instance, the electricity sector and the counter-insurgency operations in two regions in the country have consumed not less than N6 trillion without any tangible result. The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) claims that N5.4 trillion is owed by a section of the comprador bourgeoisie whose toxic debts were bought with public funds.

“Even though N443 billion was spent on the importation of fuel from January to June 2022 the National Assembly has approved N4 trillion for the same product from July to December 2022 due to the comatose status of the nation’s refineries.

“The Federal Government has also made available N100 billion for revamping the textile industry; N850 billion for rice production; N250 billion for autogas vehicle conversion and N228 for the school feeding programme. Apart from its annual budget of N40 billion the Independent National Electoral Commission has received N100 billion as the first tranche of the 2022 budget to conduct the 2023 general elections.

“A government that can afford to spend trillions of Naira on the aforesaid projects cannot afford to ignore the funding of higher education. Therefore, the federal government should adopt concrete measures to end the ASUU strike without any further delay.”

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has called for an end to the protracted strike embarked on by the ASUU saying that enough is enough.

The president called on ASUU to reconsider their position on the continued strike, expressing worry that the hiatus will have generational consequences on families, the educational system and the future development of the country.

The President, who stated this when he received some governors of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), legislators and political leaders at his residence, said the strike had already taken a toll on the psychology of parents, students and other stakeholders, throwing up many moral issues that are already begging for attention.

President Buhari noted that the future of the country rests on the quality of educational institutions and education while assuring that the government understands their position, and negotiations should continue, with students in lecture halls.

“We hope that ASUU will sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike. Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness’ sake,” he said.

The president called on all well-meaning Nigerians, particularly those close to the leaders and members of the association, to intervene in persuading the lecturers to reconsider their position and the ripple effect on an entire generation and the nation.

President Buhari said students from Nigerian universities will be faced with the challenge of competing with others in a highly connected and technology-driven workspace, and keeping them at home only deprives them of time, skill and opportunities to be relevant on the global stage.

“Colonial type education was geared towards producing workers in government. Those jobs are no longer there. Our young people should get an education to prepare them for self-employment. Now education is for the sake of education.

“Through technology, we are much more efficient. We should encourage our children to get an education, not only to look for government jobs,” he added.

President Buhari said resources should be channelled more into building infrastructure and operations of the health and educational sector, not to expand the bureaucracy to create job opportunities.

“By this time next year, I would have made the most out of the two terms, and in the remaining months I will do my best,” the President noted.

President Buhari urged those in political positions and places of privilege to be mindful of helping the many Nigerians that were looking for opportunities.

“If you are greedy, you won’t look around to see what is happening with those who are less endowed,’’ he said.

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