Commuters in the Ikeja area of Lagos have been forced to abandon commercial vehicles and trek following the gridlock the nationwide protest embarked upon today by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has created.
The protest is in solidarity with the strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), whose members have been on strike for five months, and have been joined by other unions like the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), and electricity workers.
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As early as 7:30am today, the NLC procession had gathered at the Ikeja Underbridge, with allied unions, monitored by the police.
The protesring workers blocked the Ikeja Underbridge roundabout, causing a traffic hold-up that had stretched to Awolowo Way. The procession intended to arrive at the Governor’s office at Alausa on feet.
The ASUU Lagos Zone coordinator, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, said the union’s own strike was aimed at “reclaiming the country.”
Odukoya said, “In the last five months, our universities have been closed. The government has been the clog in the wheel of progress. Any nation that wants to develop cannot toil with education.
“Oil has failed us, education is the only hope for this country. Most of our leaders are illiterate, they don’t value education. We are on the street because the government opened universities without the intention of funding them. Our students can no longer compete all over the world.”
He disclosed he is currently supervising a doctoral student from abroad, whose monthly upkeep alone is more than the salaries of many lecturers in Nigeria.
As he said, no lecturer had benefited from a salary increase since 2009.
Commuters, whose feelings The ICIR gauged on the NLC protest action, supported it.
Ibironke Olakunle, describing the Federal government’s approach to the ASUU strike as unresponsive, said, “I am in support of the ASUU strike, and this NLC protest. This government is not supportive; it is bad. Everything is expensive now. Food is costly; prices of gari and rice have gone up.”
To Ugwu Friday, even the trekking being done during the NLC protest was not enough to portray the level of anguish in the country.
Friday said, “Trekking is not pain. We should go beyond this. If we have to trek from here to Ibadan, we should. I am a graduate of public administration from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but no job. I have a second-class upper degree. The country is bad, we need change. Development is when a poor man can have access to medical care. There is no food.”