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ASUU flays attack on labour leaders over NSITF



Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the attack on labour leaders who were protesting on Wednesday against the non-inauguration of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) board at the Abuja residence of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.

Thugs, who were reportedly loyal to the minister, pounced on members of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and journalists during the protest, leaving about 10 people injured.

ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi, stated yesterday that for more than one year, the president of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, had consistently raised concerns about Ngige as the major obstacle to the inauguration of the board.


He said NSITF replaced the National Provident Fund (NPF), which came into existence in 1961.

“Wabba argues that Senator Ngige does not want to inaugurate the board because it is to be chaired by a former vice president of NLC, Chief Frank Kokori.

“All entreaties to make the minister shift ground at consultative meetings reportedly fell on deaf hears. And the NLC was left with no other option than the picketing strategy, which, unfortunately, the minister failed to handle with care and caution,” Ogunyemi stated.

The ASUU president noted that all those found culpable in the tragic protest should be brought to justice.

“Nigerian workers should not, and will not, surrender to some power-drunk politicians who are out to enslave Nigerians in their own country.

“We commend the NLC leadership for its courageous defence of the rights of workers of Nigeria and urge Congress to be steadfast and continue to resist all attempts to emasculate the Nigerian working class and its organisation.”

However, Labour will on Monday, May 13, embark on a national protest over attack.

At the end of its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Abuja yesterday, congress urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Dr. Ngige, even as he has few days to stay in office.

While justifying its call for Ngige’s removal from office, NLC alleged that the minister tainted the anti-corruption stance of the Buhari regime by remaining as the sole administrator of NSITF and allegedly perpetrated infractions.

Reacting, Ngige declared that NLC could not arm-twist him into appointing a chairman for NSITF.

He explained that under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention, the minister remains the authority to decide who becomes the board chairman in the organisation.

The minister spoke to State House correspondents yesterday after a meeting with Buhari at the presidential villa.

He explained that he never recommended Kokori to serve as the chairman of NSITF board, as he would not recommend a labour-coloured individual to serve in that capacity.

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