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Varsity Strike: NLC solidarity protests rock Lagos, Ogun, Benue, Kaduna, Taraba, Edo, Abia, Oyo, others in Nigeria

NLC Solidarity Protest Kicks Off in Ikeja, Lagos

*Trade unions in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, including aviation, electricity and petroleum have directed their members to join the nationwide protests holding from Tuesday, July 26 to Wednesday, July 27, in line with the directive of the Nigeria Labour Congress

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), interest groups, students, and cross-sections of Nigerians in general activated the two-day massive peaceful solidarity protests in several states Tuesday, July 26, 2022, across the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports the much-announced protests began Tuesday morning in some parts of country, including Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Lagos, Taraba, Edo, Abia, Oyo, and several others, according to reports.

Protesters in Benue State

The NLC nationwide protests are scheduled to hold Tuesday and Wednesday, July 27 respectively.

It was gathered that in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, several Nigerians, including human rights lawyer Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, had joined in the peaceful protests to register their displeasure over month-long Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike in public universities and bad governance.

Likewise, members of the Labour Union led the protests in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, in solidarity with the industrial action of the University lecturers.

The NLC nationwide protests are basically in solidarity with the ASUU over the lingering strike that clocked five months July 14 this year.

ASUU, SSANU, NASU have been on strikes in Universities

It should be noted that the University workers, including ASUU members, Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), among others, have been on strike for various reasons.

According to the workers, the ongoing nationwide solidarity protests would also be a veritable avenue for the NLC and other concerned Nigerians to bring the attention of relevant government agencies to other pressing issues affecting the citizenry and the country.

During the protest in Lagos, scores of protesters who stormed the streets held placards with several inscriptions that called on the relevant authorities  to attend to their demands.

Several protesters, who stormed the streets carried placards with several inscriptions, such as ‘Stop importation of petrol, refine the refineries’, ‘Nigeria at 60 years of independence, more hunger in the land’, and ‘Reduce the cost of governance now, save the masses from poverty and hunger’ among others.

Report also indicates the Labour Union Monday directed workers in state capitals, and Abuja, FCT, to join the protests.

Similarly, NLC members in Ogun and Edo states prepared for and joined the protest in solidarity with University unions July 26.

However, as the peaceful demonstrations are expected to take place in all 36 states of the Federation, the FCT will join the protest Wednesday, report stated.

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), beginning from the first day the protests, had deployed their personnel in critical infrastructure and facilities in response to the extensive protests in Nigeria.

The contentious issues between University Unions and Federal Government

Recall the lecturers in government-owned universities, affiliated with ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the country’s University system.

The concerned workers also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the government’s apparent inability to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.

However, ever since the industrial action began February this year, several negotiations between the Academic Union and the government have ended in deadlock.

While the Federal Government is still struggling to resolve the issues raised by the striking lecturers, the crisis in the public universities may not end soon as NASU and SSANU have also voiced their concerns, report said.

Prof. Nimi Briggs-led Renegotiation Committee’s recommendations

ConsumerConnect reports both unions recently rejected the report of the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee, which the Government instituted to end all strikes across the Nigerian universities.

The University workers hinted that they would not be bound by Committee’s recommendations.

According to them, the Union’s had not concluded negotiations with the Committee before it submitted its recommendations to the Federal Government for implementation.

They simply described the process as a ‘betrayal’ of trust between the parties to the industrial dispute.

NLC urges government to ensure Universities resume normal activities

Therefore, in reaction to the disturbing situation in country’s University system, especially in recent times, the NLC had faulted the Federal Government over its handling of the industrial actions that have grounded academic activities in public tertiary institutions for several months.

The NLC urged the government to pay the salaries of the striking workers, which it noted has “been frozen on the premise of the so-called ‘no work-no pay’ policy”.

The Labour Union asked the government to immediately conclude the ongoing negotiations with unions and be prepared to “commence implementation of whatever Collective Bargaining Agreement arising therefrom” in a bid to ensure public universities resume normal activities.

The Labour Union, subsequently, declared a two-day nationwide solidarity protest in order to stress the importance of resolving the impasse with the University Unions, and save the University education system from total collapse.

Ahead of the protest, trade unions in various critical sectors such as aviation, electricity, and petroleum among others, had directed their members to act in line with the directive of the Labour Union to protest from Tuesday to Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

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