NLC Nationwide Strike takes Collective Move

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has warned the government not to mess with another popular uprising similar to the 2020 #EndSARS protest by launching a two-day nationwide protest yesterday against the Federal Government’s failure to end the five-month strike by unions in the country’s university system.

The NLC consequently issued a directive to the government to rectify the problems within the two-week window President Muhammadu Buhari allowed the Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, to do so.

 The solidarity march was held in different states to support the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other unions in the university system yesterday. The Congress issued the warning via Mrs Funmi Agnes Sessy, chairman of the union’s Lagos State chapter.

“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. Education is a vital sector that must not be toyed with and handled with levity. Unfortunately, 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 to be destroyed.

“We are calling on the government to resolve the ongoing strike in our tertiary institutions quickly. 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 to the minister by the President, the nation will witness a people’s uprising bigger than what we all saw during the #EndSARS protest. Enough of our children being turned into criminal elements,” she said.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, spoke at the rally that departed from Under Bridge in Ikeja and travelled to Alausa. He expressed disappointment that those in power currently, who he described as being in his generation, appeared to be eager to destroy the nation’s education system.

He thought back to the good old days when students at tertiary institutions were fed for only 50 kobos a day, along with nutritious meals.

Falana, who asked Nigerians not to buy the claim of 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 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 litres per day. If we believe their 100 million litres story, it would mean 2,000 tankers take the excess 68 million litres daily. Where are the tankers?  Where are they taking such volume to?

He urged the President to cease travelling the world, apprehend criminal elements that drained the nation dry, and recover any public cash they may have taken.

“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.

At the Lagos Government House, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu praised them for acting peacefully throughout the demonstration.

The demonstrators received assurances from Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Establishment, Training, and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponle, that he would convey 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.

Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje begged the Federal Government to put an end to the ASUU and other unions’ strike to stop the collapse of the nation’s educational system.

Ganduje appealed while addressing NLC members in Kano yesterday to voice his disappointment over the failure to stop the more than five-month-old ASUU strike.

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

In his speech, Mr Kabiru Ado-Minjibir, the state NLC chairman, encouraged the federal government to swiftly accede to the demands of the university employees to prevent the system’s collapse.

Hundreds of workers in Plateau disregarded the state government’s order to abstain from the NLC-organized solidarity protest. They marched outside to voice their opposition to the protracted university staff strike.

The protest in Ekiti State, which drew support from other organisations that support ASUU, hampered business operations and resulted in gridlock in Ado-Ekiti, the state’s capital, for many hours.

Some of the main roadways were blocked by the protesters, making commuters walk long distances to get where they needed to go.

Speaking to reporters, Comrade Kolapo Olatunde, the Chairman of the NLC in Ekiti State, criticised the Federal Government’s actions as being insensitive because they did not satisfy ASUU’s requests.

He cautioned that if the problems were not resolved, the union would escalate the protest by shutting down other economic sectors to get students back in the classrooms.

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