ASUU Strike: NLC Shuts Down Lagos, Ondo, Others

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Tuesday, stalled activities in some parts of Lagos State over the continuous closure of public institutions in Nigeria.

Other states that participated in the protest included Ondo, Ebonyi, Abuja, Cross River, Katsina, Bauchi, Taraba, and Enugu.

The labour union, which had earlier threatened to embark on a two-day nationwide strike in solidarity with the Association Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ignored the plea of the Federal Government which was issued over the weekend.

Leaders of different unions, including the NLC, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, Nigerian Union of Teachers and some civil society groups led their members out to occupy the streets of Lagos.

The protesters converged at Ikeja Under Village and marched an assembled multitude to the Lagos State Governor’s office, disrupting vehicular movements around the Ikeja metropolis, leading to heavy gridlock.

They displayed several placards with inscriptions signalling their demands like the immediate resumption of the striking lecturers, the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari or fixing Nigeria.

The group, through the State Chairman of the NLC, Funmi Sessi delivered a letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Lagos House, Ikeja to convey their grievances to the Federal Government.

The letter was received by Lagos State Commissioner for Establishment Training and Pension, Mrs. Ajibola Ponle.

Speaking at the protest venue in Alausa, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) lamented the condition of things in the country and advised the president to resign his position if he is tired of governing.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria slammed the government for allowing the issue to degenerate to the extent of a nationwide strike and threatened there would be a total showdown in the country if the Federal Government fails to address the grievances of the concerned unions, most especially, ASUU.

His words, “Before now, this matter was handled in-house, as it were, by the staff of the universities. But what happened today is that the Nigerian Labour Congress called out all the trade unions and workers to solidarise with the ASUU and other staff in the university with a view to pressurising the Federal Government to address the issue.

“We don’t have a government sensitive and prepared to address the problem confronting our country. Our president is tired and he has said it repeatedly that he wants to return back home. What he does now is junketing the world.

“Currently, the president is in Liberia to deliver a speech on security, whereas, security has virtually collapsed in Nigeria. If he is tired, we will urge him to go back home and rest so that this country can be allowed to go back to sanity. Right now, there is no government in Nigeria.”

While reading the letter addressed to Governor Sanwo-Olu, Sessi, on behalf of the union, rejected the idea of an Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, arguing that it is one of the ploys of government officials to rob tertiary institution staff in the country.

She condemned the continuous closure of universities saying, “Your Excellency, we need the Federal Government to take the necessary steps that could lead to the dissolution of the dispute and by extension, end the current strike.”

She noted that the government’s responses were discouraging and it was what led to a protest in the 36 states in the country.

She said: “We are here to solicit your support and intervention in the dispute between the government and different unions in tertiary institutions. This dispute has manifested as a strike action for the past five months.”

She warned that the government’s failure to attend to their demands will birth bigger protests across the nation while also noting that their “fight is against the Federal Government, not the state government”.

Responding, Ponle thanked the leaders of the union for leading a “peaceful rally” in support of ASUU and the students.

“It is a pleasure to receive this, and I will convey your letter to Mr Governor to address on his return. I am sure he will attend to every single matter that is here by the power that he holds as Lagos State Governor. He will convey the letter to the president,” she pledged.

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