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Varsity Strike: Labour to Embark on One-day National Protest

The organised labour under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has declared its intention to organise a one-day nationwide protest within the next two weeks to compel the federal government to resolve issues with the university workers.

The Labour movement also condemned the persisting fuel supply crisis across the country, saying the ugly situation was having serious impact on the economy and lives of Nigerians.

While addressing a meeting of the National Executive Council at Abuja, yesterday, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba expressed sadness over the continued closure of the country’s tertiary institutions due to unresolved labour dispute between the federal government and workers’ union.

He said that the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the NLC met on Wednesday and recommended that, “there will be a one-day national protest to call the attention of government to resolve the issue immediately.”

Rising from its NEC meeting yesterday, the NLC, resolved to embark on industrial action over the alleged reluctance of the government to resolve its face-off with the university unions.

The Lawyer gathered from a source at the NEC meeting that the Congress had resolved that after the protest, if the government fails to resolve the crisis, it would embark on a three-day warning strike that would also culminate in a total strike.

Wabba said after the expiration of the earlier 21-day deadline issued to the government to take steps to resolve the dispute with the university teachers, nothing concrete had been achieved.

The Lawyer also gathered that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was yet to submit its report on the outcome of the integrity tests conducted on the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), which is the payment platform proposed by ASUU and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, U3PS, proposed by SSANU and NASU. As a result, the high-powered inter-ministerial committee set up by the federal government to fast-track resolution of the dispute could not submit its report to the president as expected.

Wabba said: “I think there is reluctance in addressing this issue and therefore CWC has decided that there will be a one-day national protest to call the attention of government to resolve the issue immediately after that the next decision of the CWC will take place.

“We have also asked all our affiliates in the next one week to issue statements,” he said.

On the lingering scarcity of fuel and the long queues across the country, NLC said it was pathetic that Nigeria has not availed itself of the rich endowment of oil resource by continuing to depend on imported petroleum products for local consumption.

Wabba said the situation had brought about dire consequences on productivity, economy and wellbeing of the citizens.

For instance, he said that diesel now sells at more than N800 per liter.

“It is on unfortunate that Nigeria despite being a major oil producing country has continued to fail to refine her own crude oil.

“The result of this, is the net total of 100 per cent importation of refine petroleum product into Nigeria,” he said.

“And the consequence is the heavy hemorrhage of our national coffers especially given our most important challenge which has also brought about the long queues in almost all the filling stations,” he added.

The NLC president also lamented that the situation had affected the purchasing power of many Nigerians and brought hardship with many businesses brought to a halt because they run on generator.

“Many people are closing their business and many workers are losing their jobs.

“There is no way this situation can be allowed to continue. The position of the NLC and the organised labour is that the only way out of this issue and even to end subsidy or not is for us to refine product for domestic use,” he said.

The NEC meeting of the NLC which held behind closed doors was expected to endorse the decisions of the CWC and further give specific date for the nationwide protest on the university strike.

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