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NLC proposed solidarity protest with ASUU illegal –FG – VELOXNEWS

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Federal Government has declared as unlawful, the street protest planned by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with striking members of university-based unions.

NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to compel  government to resolve the over five-month-old strike that has kept students in public universities at home.

However, the Federal Government, yesterday, claimed the planned protest was a plot by the NLC to create anarchy in the country describing it as illegal.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed,  who briefed State House Correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, claimed the NLC was taking sides with ASUU and acting as a political party.

He queried the right of the union to embark on the protest when it had no industrial dispute with the Federal Government.

“The NLC is not a political party; the NLC can go on strike or protest if the rights of NLC members are involved. What the NLC is planning in the next two days is about interest. There’s no dispute whatsoever between NLC as a body with the Federal Government.”

Mohammed, however, acknowledge that there were disputes between ASUU and some members of the NLC with the Federal Government, and for which a team, which has NLC as members, was set up to resolve.

“So, calling out people on street protest, you begin to wonder what is the motive of NLC in this matter? But you see here, we do not interrogate what NLC is doing. NLC by its own laws cannot even give out pamphlets. And NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. Now, if you declare dispute with us, yes you can go on strike. Even that one would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not. But this particular NLC asking and mobilising people to come out on strike on July 26 and 27 is clearly on nothing.”

When reminded that the prolonged strike had grounded academic activities  in universities and was affecting NLC children as well, the minister said government was equally worried, but that rather than call out a mass protest, the NLC should partner in finding solution to the crisis.

“They are part of the tripartite agreement that have been negotiating with the Federal Government on this ASUU issue. So, why are they now going out to take sides? How does that solve the problem? What you are going to create is more anarchy. And I think the NLC should think twice about their proposed strike in solidarity with ASUU.”

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika also expressed concerns with plans by aviation sector unions to shut the airspace. He said grounding aviation sector assets as planned by the unions would compromise safety and security of air travellers and the country.

“I’m naturally concerned about this if the aviation union will shut down in support of ASUU. I would say they have no need to… this is democracy, you can push for demands but in pressing for demands you should be reasonable in doing so. So, civil aviation workers, I think should not be part of this. Yes, I am concerned and yes we’ve spoken to them and I don’t think they will join because they know that there’s huge responsibility of lives on their heads. If you’re an air traffic controller, it involves national security, it involves the capability of preventing external aggression and so on so forth.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has denied  reports that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered him on Tuesday to hands off negotiations with the striking lecturers.

“Anyway, I saw one of the dailies writing something like that today, but the truth of the matter is there is no such thing, it’s just categorically untrue. There is nothing like hands-off,” he told journalists.

Asked if the two weeks directive by the president to resolve the issue is achievable, Ngige said he had proposed one week but  Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, volunteered to resolve the issues with ASUU in two weeks.

Ngige, who said he had recused himself from further negotiations on crisis in public universities advised the unions to table their case before the Ministry of Education who the president has directed to resolve their issues, adding adding that he hopes all the issues would  be resolved at the stipulated time given by Adamu.

. NANS directs all students to join nationwide protest

National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has thrown its weight behind next Tuesday and Wednesday’s protest by the NLC over the prolonged strike by university workers.

NANS said since its protest did not yield the expected result, it would be wise for its members to join the NLC  protest  to compel the government take action to resolve its dispute with ASUU.

It commended the national leadership of the NLC for its steadfastness and commitment to join forces with well meaning Nigerians to advocate the end of the protracted ASUU strike.

NANS President, Sunday Asefon, in a statement, yesterday, directed all NANS structures across the country to mobilise and ensure that the NLC protest was a success.

He said NANS would mobilise students to the protest sites and would act based on directives by the NLC on the protest.

He said NANS structures across the country would submit to the leadership of NLC all through the protest.

“While NANS has organised various protests in the past with no substantial results, also our advocacy and consultations have not yielded desirable results. we have activated political solution and we are very hopeful that an end is in the purview.

“However, we are in total support of the planned protest by NLC as we believe this will stem up the advocacy and assist, significantly, to put adequate pressure on the Federal Government to do all that is required to stop the ASUU strike.”

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