The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, may have concluded mobilisation of its members to stage a twoday warning strike in solidarity with affiliate unions, such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non Academic Staff Union of University and Allied Institutions, NASU, as well as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU.
This came to the fore on Monday, July 25, 2022, while the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, responded to questions from journalists on the sideline of the ongoing 18th NLC Rain School, 2022, tagged, ‘Labour, Politics for National Development and Social Justice in Nigeria’.
Wabba reiterated their readiness to gather members across Nigeria for a nationwide protest in all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, today in demand for the Federal Government to resolve all the lingering issues that have kept tertiary education closed, and have the schools open for academic activities.
The Labour Centre noted that a three days warning strike will immediately follow after the protest and may have to go on indefinite strike if government failed to resolve the issues that caused the strike and have the schools opened to Nigerian students.
He said, “The protest happening(today) is not a solidarity protest but a protest of NLC against government actions that lead to our universities being shut down and our kids staying at home instead of going to school.
All the unions directly involved in the strike are NLC affiliates and their members are part of NLC.
“We have taken three levels of decision. First is the protest which is going to be national tomorrow.
After the protest, a three days national warning strike will start, and if they fail to resolve the issues and bring back our kids to school, we go on indefinite strike. That is the decision of our National Executive Council.
And what will be helpful for them is to check the timeline we have given for them to resolve the issues.
We are optimistic that they will be willing this time because we are also willing to get our children back to school.”
Speaking further on how the ruling APC government has failed to better the living condition of Nigerians but have rather left even the education sector in shambles, Comrade Wabba said, “I never knew that the exchange rate has moved between a week from N630 to N670.
This is very frightening and it erodes the purchasing power of workers. There is no way we can continue in this direction and expect that there will be shared prosperity within workers, and within the large portion of Nigerians that are in the lower echelon at the economic ladder.
“Importantly is the issue of our children that are out of school for five months.
Basically it also requires a political decision for the issue to be sorted out. What is even more worrisome is the fact that they keep posting the graduation of their children in universities outside country on social media and then the universities where the children of the workers study are closed down.
“I was told today that we have three sets of students that ought to be in the university but unfortunately they have not even sorted out their admission challenges. So it is really a very frightening future for Nigerians, particularly the youths.
“The irony of it is that most of the political elite today benefited from free public education. Why is it impossible for them to fix our public education? Is it about the class divide, it honestly beats some body’s imagination.
That is why all of these issues resonate that we need to engage politically. We have also realised the fact that they have used different approaches to divide Nigerians.
“Unfortunately for them, NLC is a pan-Nigerian organisation that cannot be divided.
And workers should not allow themselves to be divided along ethnic or religious line.
This is just diversion of interest. Their division tool is happening now, workers should be wiser, and citizens should be wiser. We should work assiduously to unite Nigeria and not to divide Nigeria.”
Recall that for over 150 days running both ASUU and its sister unions, NASU, SSANU and NAAT, have engaged government over issues bordering on revitalisation funds for universities, implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payrolls and Information System, IPPIS, as well as earned allowances.
While government has assured that the thorny issues will be resolved within two weeks, ASUU appears adamant to yield ground for resolution unless their demands are met in full.