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On Tuesday, the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and its affiliated unions disregarded warnings from the federal government and protested in the streets of the nation’s largest cities over the federal government’s inability to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ five-month strike.

The NLC stated specifically that the demands of ASUU could be met with the funds the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, received through the sale of forms to candidates.

Uche Nweke, who spoke on behalf of NLC National Chairman Ayuba Wabba in Akwa Ibom, criticized justifications that there wasn’t enough cash to meet the requests of the university workers.

“The money the two major parties realised from the sale of nomination forms would be enough to put ASUU universities on their feet. We the Nigerian workers are the most understanding people. We call on the national leadership to listen to the voice of reason. Whatever it takes, they should send our children back to school,” he said.

Other states that saw protests in addition to Akwa Ibom were Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Enugu, Benue, Sokoto, Lagos, and Plateau.

Last Monday, Dr. Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, asserted that a security report issued to his office by the Department of State Services forewarned against staging the protest.

Additionally, Ngige stated in a March interview with Channels Television that the government lacked the resources to comply with ASUU’s demands, including cash for university revitalization.

He stated, “The N1.3trillion you are talking about was promised by the (Goodluck) Jonathan government. Oil was selling between $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich.”

The unionists added that it had become essential for the existing government to resign after they expressed their rage over the Federal Government’s failure to address their complaints.

Due to the Federal Government’s incapacity to carry out the agreements it reached with ASUU in 2009 and the present administration’s refusal to exempt teachers from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, university lecturers shut down public institutions on February 14.

ASUU had also requested that the government improve tertiary institution funding and pay back arrears on allowances.

The protest will be against the government measures that prompted the strike, the NLC president had earlier stated in a conversation with journalists in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom.

The National Union of Air Transport Employees, the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, civil society organizations, and other affiliated unions converged under the Ikeja Bridge in Lagos on Tuesday, clogging the streets with their members and causing traffic chaos.

READ MORE: NEMA Receives Another Batch Of Libya Returnees

The teeming campaigners expressed their concerns in songs and placards, some of which read; “Stop importation of petrol. Revive the refineries”; “IPPIS destroys our refineries. Adopt UTAS now”; “Reduce the cost of governance. Save the masses from poverty and hunger”; “Stop the looting”, “Tax the rich and subsidise the poor”; among others.

Agnes Sessi, the chairman of the Lagos NLC, charged the federal government for ignoring education.

“It’s been almost a year. Our children are still at home. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Children who are not engaged will become internet fraudsters and prostitutes,” she added.

Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights attorney who participated in the demonstration, urged the Federal Government to use the looted money to fund education.

“We are telling the government, enough is enough. Let them stop deceiving our people. They have money. Buhari should collect money from 10 looters to resolve this problem. Just last week, one of them stole N119bn and others have stolen more.

“In Abuja, they are using dollars to pay delegates and are distributing millions of dollars under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s watch.”

Falana claimed that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret. ), continued to take unnecessary trips, such as his recent trip to Liberia, rather than staying home to address the issues facing the nation.

ASUU Zonal Chairman Dr. Adelaja Odukoya also spoke, stating that Nigerians must band together to put pressure on the government.

The demonstrators handed the governor a letter including all of their demands after marching from the Ikeja Bridge to the Lagos State Governor’s office.

The letter was delivered by the NLC Chairman on behalf of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, to Mrs. Ponle Ajibola, the commissioner for establishments, training, and pensions.

Others who took part in the protest were: The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, Nigeria Union of Teachers, The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria and other affiliate unions of NLC were at the protest.

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Adoga Stephen
Adoga Stephen is a trained journalist, researcher, creative writer and freelancer. He studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State University of Science and Technology (then Laspotech) and acquired requisite skills for the practice of journalism, a profession he has been practicing since 2016.

On Tuesday, the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and its affiliated unions disregarded warnings from the federal government and protested in the streets of the nation’s largest cities over the federal government’s inability to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ five-month strike.

The NLC stated specifically that the demands of ASUU could be met with the funds the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, received through the sale of forms to candidates.

Uche Nweke, who spoke on behalf of NLC National Chairman Ayuba Wabba in Akwa Ibom, criticized justifications that there wasn’t enough cash to meet the requests of the university workers.

“The money the two major parties realised from the sale of nomination forms would be enough to put ASUU universities on their feet. We the Nigerian workers are the most understanding people. We call on the national leadership to listen to the voice of reason. Whatever it takes, they should send our children back to school,” he said.

Other states that saw protests in addition to Akwa Ibom were Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Enugu, Benue, Sokoto, Lagos, and Plateau.

Last Monday, Dr. Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, asserted that a security report issued to his office by the Department of State Services forewarned against staging the protest.

Additionally, Ngige stated in a March interview with Channels Television that the government lacked the resources to comply with ASUU’s demands, including cash for university revitalization.

He stated, “The N1.3trillion you are talking about was promised by the (Goodluck) Jonathan government. Oil was selling between $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich.”

The unionists added that it had become essential for the existing government to resign after they expressed their rage over the Federal Government’s failure to address their complaints.

Due to the Federal Government’s incapacity to carry out the agreements it reached with ASUU in 2009 and the present administration’s refusal to exempt teachers from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, university lecturers shut down public institutions on February 14.

ASUU had also requested that the government improve tertiary institution funding and pay back arrears on allowances.

The protest will be against the government measures that prompted the strike, the NLC president had earlier stated in a conversation with journalists in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom.

The National Union of Air Transport Employees, the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, civil society organizations, and other affiliated unions converged under the Ikeja Bridge in Lagos on Tuesday, clogging the streets with their members and causing traffic chaos.

READ MORE: NEMA Receives Another Batch Of Libya Returnees

The teeming campaigners expressed their concerns in songs and placards, some of which read; “Stop importation of petrol. Revive the refineries”; “IPPIS destroys our refineries. Adopt UTAS now”; “Reduce the cost of governance. Save the masses from poverty and hunger”; “Stop the looting”, “Tax the rich and subsidise the poor”; among others.

Agnes Sessi, the chairman of the Lagos NLC, charged the federal government for ignoring education.

“It’s been almost a year. Our children are still at home. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Children who are not engaged will become internet fraudsters and prostitutes,” she added.

Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights attorney who participated in the demonstration, urged the Federal Government to use the looted money to fund education.

“We are telling the government, enough is enough. Let them stop deceiving our people. They have money. Buhari should collect money from 10 looters to resolve this problem. Just last week, one of them stole N119bn and others have stolen more.

“In Abuja, they are using dollars to pay delegates and are distributing millions of dollars under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s watch.”

Falana claimed that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret. ), continued to take unnecessary trips, such as his recent trip to Liberia, rather than staying home to address the issues facing the nation.

ASUU Zonal Chairman Dr. Adelaja Odukoya also spoke, stating that Nigerians must band together to put pressure on the government.

The demonstrators handed the governor a letter including all of their demands after marching from the Ikeja Bridge to the Lagos State Governor’s office.

The letter was delivered by the NLC Chairman on behalf of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, to Mrs. Ponle Ajibola, the commissioner for establishments, training, and pensions.

Others who took part in the protest were: The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, Nigeria Union of Teachers, The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria and other affiliate unions of NLC were at the protest.

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