The Federal Government has requested the Nigeria Labour Congress to cancel its planned demonstration because the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other university-based unions have been on a protracted strike. The request was made on Thursday as Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, was meeting with the NLC leadership in his office. The meeting also included Kachollom Daju, the ministry’s permanent secretary, and Festus Keyamo, a minister of state for labor and employment.
Ngige updated the labor leaders in his speech on the efforts being made by the federal government to end the impasse in the university system and noted that they were still ongoing.
ASUU and other university-based unions have been on strike for five months. On the 17th of July, the National Labor Council (NLC) announced that a nationwide protest would start on July 26 and 27 to convince the Federal Government to end the strike. On February 14, ASUU declared a strike because, in the union’s words, the government had not complied with certain of its requests.
The minister reminded the NLC leadership that because they were included in the tripartite conciliation taking place in his ministry and because they were well aware of the government’s efforts to break the deadlock, they were unable to organize any protests or rallies. Olajide Oshundun, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment’s Head of Press and Public Relations, signed the statement. The Federal Executive Council had instructed him to advise the labor leaders of the protest’s serious security ramifications, he added in his statement to them.
He asserts that in a security assessment that was also provided to his office, the Department of State Services strongly recommended against holding the protest, which was set to take place on the 26th and 27th of July. He urged the NLC National Executive Council to reconsider the rally because thugs would take advantage of the occasion to jeopardize security. Comrades Najeem Usman, the NLC’s vice president, and Emmanuel Ugboajah, its general secretary, responded by informing the government that the Congress would protest peacefully and that infiltrators would not be allowed to participate.
The NLC, according to Ugboajah, commended the minister’s efforts to end the strikes in the university system and encouraged him not to give up on the mediation.