• Osun primary school pupils hold solidarity protest for ASUU, ask FG to fund varsities
• Police beef up security in Osun, Ogun
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), yesterday, said it has fully mobilised all its affiliates across sectors for a total shut down of the economy today.
The two-day nationwide protest is in solidarity with the over five months strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Addressing affiliates ahead of the protest for Lagos zone, NLC Chairman, Lagos Council, Funmi Sessi, described as insensitive, government’s attitude to universities workers’ plights.
She said as early as 6:00a.m., all workers would converge under the bridge at Ikeja and march to Government House, Alausa, to deliver a letter from the NLC national body to Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu.
The protest, she said, is to compel the Federal Government to meet the demands of ASUU and address the poor handling of the education sector.
She said: “We are already fully mobilised. We will be on the street using the protest to drum support for parents of the students, who have been home for this long period,” she said.
According to her, NLC has charged all the private institutions owned by the state government to abstain from going to work, adding that it is the directive from the national body that Lagos State University (LASU) and other state-owned institutions should join the protest as workers.
“If the government like, let them bring all their armoured tanks and security agencies, we will face them. We are using this opportunity to tell all institutions in Lagos to come out in solidarity with us because the reward will be for all. Injury to one is an injury to all,” she added.
Sessi also emphasised that the national grid should go down to zero and for health workers, only emergency services would be allowed.
Speaking at the meeting, Zonal Coordinator, ASUU, Lagos, Adelaja Odukoya, maintained that the dispute that caused unions in the universities to be on prolonged strike was a deep-rooted crisis.
He said: “The struggle is in the interest of our children. Enough is enough, government must fund education. If we allow government to continue, they will destroy our universities as they’ve done to our primary and secondary schools. If Nigeria must develop, attention must be paid to our university education.”
THE two-day national protest slated for today and tomorrow, may snowball into a three-day warning strike if the Federal Government fails to end the ongoing strike by the university-based labour unions.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said labour would commence a three-day warning strike immediately after the protest and might also consider a full-blown indefinite strike if the ASUU strike persists.
His words: “The protest happening today is not a solidarity protest but a protest of NLC against government actions that led to our universities being shut down and our children 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. After the protest, three days national warning strike will start, and if they fail to resolve the issues and bring back our kids to school, we will 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.”
Castigating the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led administration, Wabba pointed out that the government has not only failed to better the living condition of Nigerians but has left the education sector in a shambles.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has declared solidarity with the NLC on the protests and other actions that will be taken to end the industrial action embarked by ASUU.
First National Deputy President of TUC, Tommy Okon, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, said the new executive of the congress cannot participate actively because it is still new and does not have the approvals of its relevant organs to join the action.
However, he assured that once the new executive settles and all the relevant organs are properly set up, TUC will be more visible in the struggles.
SCORES of primary school pupils in Osun State, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest in solidarity with ASUU and called on the Federal Government to accede to the demands of the union to end the lingering strike.
The pupils stormed the main gate of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) campus in Ile-Ife and declared support for ASUU, chanting solidarity song.
The protesting pupils of Sunshine Nursery and Primary School, Ile-Ife, carried different placards bearing inscriptions such as: “Don’t Borrow Our Future Away”, “I Am The Future ASUU, Make No Mistake About It”, “Stand Up ASUU, Stand Up For Us. We See ASUU Fighting For Us, “Govts Should Save Our Future by Funding Our Universities,” “When You Stand Up For ASUU, Then You Are Standing For Us,” among others.
The pupils appealed to government to find a lasting solution to the grievances of the lecturers.
Meanwhile, the police, yesterday, beefed up security in Osogbo and other major towns in Osun State ahead of today’s NLC solidarity protest.
Checks by our correspondent revealed that the police command had deployed police teams to strategic locations in the capital city and other towns.
Different teams of policemen who were armed were sighted with their patrol vehicles at Old Garage, Ola-Iya and Okefia areas of Osogbo. These locations have been the traditional convergence points for most protests in the state.
In Ogun State, the police command has assured the public that their safety will be guaranteed before, during and after the protest.
The command appealed to NLC and other affiliated groups who might want to participate in the protest to be civil and peaceful as a way not to violate the rights of others.
The command appealed to the public to go about their lawful businesses without fear of intimidation or harassment, as police and other security agencies would be fully on ground to monitor the situation so as to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the process.