THE Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to meet the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which has been on strike for more than five months.
President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, made the appeal on Tuesday while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, monitored by The ICIR reporter.
Wabba highlighted the reasons for the NLC’s two-day nationwide protest in solidarity with ASUU, which started on Tuesday.
The ICIR reports that the NLC mobilised workers across the country to protest the government/ASUU face-off on Tuesday.
But the strike did not ground major public institutions as expected.
The ICIR reporter visited the Abuja Airport and some banks where activities went on uninterrupted.
Wabba said should the government ignore the protest and fail to meet the workers’ demands, the NLC would proceed on a three-day warning strike.
He said the ASUU strike affected workers and other Nigerians, the reason the NLC embarked on the two days of protest.
Apart from ASUU, three other unions, namely the Non-academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), are on strike over unmet demands by the government.
All four unions are affiliates of the NLC, Wabba stated.
“NLC doesn’t have direct members except members of the affiliates. It is not about solidarity. We wear the shoe, it pinches us, and we are responding to the issues. The issue in dispute is quite clear. It should be a matter of concern to every Nigerian.
“Our Nigerian universities have been closed down for five months, and the children of the poor, particularly the working class, are at home, while the children of the elites and the rich are graduating daily from foreign universities, and they have the audacity to post those pictures to all of us.
“It was Mandela that said that the best way to address the issue of equality in our society and address poverty is to give the children of the poor quality education. That is why we are responding.”
Wabba explained that a lot of efforts had been made by the NLC in the past five months, including several letters and pre-warning letters sent to the government over the imperative of meeting the striking workers’ demands.
He also said the NLC had joined the government negotiation team with ASUU, and their meetings failed to produce the expected results.
Wabba opined there had been an unnecessary delay by the government in responding to ASUU demands.
According to him, parents and students were losing hope, and the schools had lost an academic calendar over the strike.
The NLC President also explained that many of the nation’s best lecturers had left because of poor wages.
He alleged that none of the nation’s professors receives up to 700 dollars.
Citing the UN Charter, Nigerian Constitution and pronouncements by Nigerian courts, Wabba said the workers had the right to protest and embark on strike over issues they were uncomfortable with.
He said if the government managed the country’s resources very well, funds would not be a problem in meeting ASUU’s demands.
Wabba revealed that the lecturers had not been paid since they proceeded on strike on February 14.