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Groups back NLC’s protest over lingering ASUU Strike

By Lawrence Njoku (Enugu) and Waliat Musa (Lagos) 
24 July 2022   |   2:41 am
The International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative and Coalition of Civil Society, Workers and Human Rights Defenders, have queued behind the organised Labour over its planned street protest

ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke

The International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative and Coalition of Civil Society, Workers and Human Rights Defenders, have queued behind the organised Labour over its planned street protest in solidarity with the striking members of university-based unions.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress (TUC), had announced that they would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and July 27 to compel the Federal Government to resolve the over five-month-old strike that has kept students in public universities at home.

In a joint statement signed by the President, International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative and Convener, Coalition of Civil Society, Workers and Human Rights Defenders, Osmond Ugwu and Dr Jerry Chukwuokolo, for International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative, as well as the Secretary, Coalition of Civil Society, Workers and Human Rights Defenders, Chukwudi Anachina, the organisations commended the organised labour for proposing the street protest.

They urged all workers and union leaders to be steadfast in the struggle, adding that they should not be deterred by the federal government’s declaration of the proposed action as illegal.

The statement reads in part: “Contrary to the opinion of the Federal Government, the planned action of Labour is very legitimate, constitutional and morally imperative given the circumstances that gave rise to such action.

“For the avoidance of doubt, protest is governed and protected by the fundamental human rights provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, UN Charter on Human Rights as well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria is a signatory to and in most cases, have been ratified.

“We condemn the insensitivity of the Federal Government on the legitimate demands of lecturers and the strike that has dragged for over five months with the students being kept at home without the government feeling any serious concern about the ugly situation.

Also, a non-governmental organisation, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), in a statement issued in Lagos by its Policy and Research Officer, Zikora Ibeh, said the decision by the NLC to embark on solidarity protest was the best since the Federal Government lacks the capacity to resolve the impasse in the last five months.

The statement reads: “CAPPA welcomes the NLC’s decision and urges all civil- society organisations, student unions, including the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and groups committed to the defence of social, economic, and human rights to join the organised labour and education unions to defend the public university system.

“CAPPA is in support of every legitimate action to ensure a speedy resolution of the strike and resumption of classes by students who have been idling away at home for five months.’’

The human rights groups continued: “We attribute the insensitivity of the president, his cabinet members and the National Assembly on the huge sum of the commonwealth of the people in their possession with which they find it very easy to send their children to the best of universities across the world.

“We call on all well-meaning Nigerians, including the students, all lecturers and non-academic staff, traders associations, students unions, professionals, informal sector workers, all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), religious organisations and leaders, as well as all affiliates of NLC and TUC to identify with the strike protests and ensure that it succeeds.”

The groups described the two-week ultimatum, reportedly given to the Minister of Education by President Muhammadu Buhari, to resolve the ASUU problem as diversionary, saying: “it does not have any hope or weight for a serious solution.”

“What the Nigerians expect from the president is a directive to report to him within a week the extent of implementation of the demand of ASUU and other striking workers in the tertiary institutions.

“We wish to use this medium to call on the Nigerian masses to rise in solidarity to sustain the mass protest against the latent increase in the pump prices of petroleum products until they are reversed,” the statement concluded.

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