Workers took to the streets across the country yesterday in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university unions. They urged the Federal Government to end the strike without delay. Our Reporters monitored the rallies in states.

The Federal Government must do everything to end the prolonged strike by university teachers and other unions, workers insisted yesterday.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates took to the streets to press home the demands.

To the workers, the Federal Government has not done enough to address the issues and further excuses will no longer be accepted.

Mostly affected, they pointed out, are students whose parents could not afford to send them abroad, as the elite do.

ASUU had shut all public universities and commenced its ongoing strike on February 14, after the Federal Government failed to meet some of its demands.

The demands are the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.

The workers marched to government houses to submit protest letters to governors for delivery to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

Akwa Ibom

Labour unions stormed the main entrances of the Akwa Ibom State Government and the State House of Assembly.

Chanting solidarity songs, they displayed placards with various inscriptions.

The protesters were received by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and by the Deputy Speaker, Mrs. Felicia Bassey.

State Chairman of NLC, Sunny James, who addressed the protesters, expressed disappointment over the inability of the Federal government to meet the demands of the university workers.

 

 Edo

Governor Godwin Obaseki described the prolonged ASUU strike as shameful.

The protest, which commenced at the museum ground in Ring Road, near the palace of Oba of Benin, led to gridlock on the busy roads and adjoining streets in the area.

Motorists and commuters sought alternative routes as the protesters headed for the Government House.

The protesters bore placards bearing various inscriptions, including: “FG, save our universities from total collapse, fund them well”, “We cannot afford to send our children abroad, fund education in Nigeria”, “The poor students deserve quality education”, “Our children have been at home for too long”, “FG, save our future generation”, “Stop playing games, meet ASUU’s demands” and “Our children should be in classrooms, not in the streets.”

 

Oyo

A mild drama ensued as workers were temporarily held back from gaining access to the state secretariat.

An advance team of government officials including the Executive Assistant to Governor Makinde on Security, Sunday Odukoya (Rtd) and the Special Adviser on Labour Matters, who was the immediate past Oyo NLC Chairman, Adebayo Titilola-Sodo, had waited at the main entrance of the secretariat to receive the protesters.

On getting to the entrance gate, the visibly surprised protesters expressed shock at the locking of the gates.

Tempers rose as the protesters changed their solidarity songs and started chanting “All, we are saying, open this gate”.

The situation almost got out of hand about ten minutes later as some of the young protesters started banging on the massive gate in an attempt to force it open.

Odukoya appealed to the protesters and ordered the gate be opened to allow entrance into the Secretariat.

A similar scenario almost repeated itself when the protesters also met a closed gate at the entrance of the Governor’s Office.

 

Sokoto

The Sokoto branch of the NLC accused the Federal Government of nonchalance towards the education sector.

Its vice chairman, Abubakar Malami, delivered a letter on Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

Commissioner for Careers and Establishment, Sani Bunu Yabo, commended NLC for their peaceful conduct.

He urged the parties to put the interest of the students into consideration in the ongoing negotiation to reach compromise by calling off the strike.

 

 Bayelsa

In Bayelsa, the state chapter of NLC led by its Chairman Comrade John Ndiomu began its peaceful procession from the OMPADEC junction at Amarata straight to the Government House gate at Ovom, a distance of about one kilometre, where they were received by Governor Douye Diri.

The NLC chair said: “We are in support of the ASUU. We want to also call on the state government to increase subvention for the state universities.”

He called on the Federal Government to take urgent and necessary steps to end the five-month-old ASUU strike.

 

  Kwara

The protesters marched around areas like Post Office, Challenge, A-Division roundabout and Government House on Ahmadu Bello Way, Ilorin to submit their letter of protest to the state government.

NLC Chairman in Kwara, Aliyu Isa-Ore, said the rally was organised in solidarity with ASUU on the need for the federal government to honour their agreement.

 

Ebonyi

In Ebonyi, the protest match started at Pastoral Centre and terminated at the Pa Ngele ?ruta Township Stadium Abakaliki.

The members bore various placards and banners expressing their displeasure at the Federal Government’s inability to resolve the lingering ASUU strike.

 

Anambra

The protest took another dimension as ASUU and NLC clashed. Members of ASUU labelled NLC leadership as incompetent.

The protest did not last more than 20 minutes.

The Nation gathered that the protest was cut short, following an appeal from Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Some members of ASUU, some of them doctors and professors, alleged that NLC leadership was compromised.

 

 Enugu

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, represented by the Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya, commended Labour for the peaceful manner they conducted the demonstration.

“We share in your concern. We have always known that education is the foundation of society.

“We urge you to continue to engage with the Federal Government. We will effectively deliver your message to the president.”

The NLC state chairman, Virginus Nwobodo, lamented that the government had taken education for granted because “most of them have the resources to send their children abroad”.

 

Benue

Governor Samuel Ortom urged the Federal Government to honour the agreement it voluntarily entered with ASUU.

Addressing members of NLC, the governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Tony Ijohor, said the prolonged strike was unacceptable.

The governor said the state government was in full support of the sympathy protest as well as other actions it intends to embark on and promised to take their grievances to appropriate quarters.

Ortom also called on the Federal Government to revisit its “no work no pay” policy, which he said was to arm-twist ASUU into submission.

He believes the honourable thing to do was for the government to address all the issues raised by the union without further excuses.

 

  Adamawa

The protest march in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, was hitch-free.

This followed the mass deployment of officers of the state Police Command and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The protesters said they were against the prolonged strike, following failed negotiations with the Federal Government.

They demanded that the government reach an agreement with ASUU so that the strike could be called off.

“Enough is enough of this strike because the consequences are mounting and it could lead to what is much better avoided than allowed,” said the NLC Chairman in Adamawa State, Comrade Emmanuel Fashe.

Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, who was abroad, was represented at the NLC protest by the state’s Head of the Civil Service, Amos Edgar, who promised to deliver their message to Fintiri who would, in turn, communicate it to President Buhari.

 

Rivers

In Rivers State, the NLC claimed that persons in political power, who benefited from the government’s free education programme, were the ones killing public schools.

The protesters, dressed in black NLC crested vests and caps, were joined by other union members.

NLC Chairperson in the state, Beatrice Itubo, who led the protest to the Rivers Government House, warned that there would be a total shutdown of work in the state if the government failed to address ASUU’s demands.

Itubo said: “Unfortunately, those who enjoyed free education are the same people who have come and have decided to kill the same system that brought them to the apex and it is an aberration.

“So we are here to send a strong message and that is if schools are not open there would be no election and let them not mistake it to mean that they will stay in office a day at the expiration of their tenure.

In his response, the Permanent Secretary, Special Services from the Office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. George Nweke said the message would be sent to the governor.

 

  Lagos

In Lagos, Illegal task-force officials were arrested by security officials for trying to disrupt the protest.

The workers converged under the Ikeja Bridge and walked to the state’s House of Assembly in Alausa, Ikeja. Vehicular movement was affected on the route and at the protest venue.

Protesters held placards bearing inscriptions such as; “No lecture, no development’, “Nigeria must give education a priority”’ “No school, no 2023 election”, “Nigeria at 60 years Independence, more hunger in the land”, “Union in Nigerian tertiary institutions and innocent Nigerian students”

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana ( SAN), advised President Muhammadu Buhari to quit, claiming he appeared to be tired.

He said: “We are gathered here today at this protest ground to reject in its entirety the dubious acts of the Buhari-led administration. The living standards of Nigerians appear to be getting worse every day. We didn’t vote for a regime to cause hardship for Nigerians. Now, hardship, terrorism, and recession have taken over our country.

“Buhari is travelling all over the world, and he has told us that he is tired. So Buhari must go. He must go.”

ASUU coordinator I Southwest, Adekoya Ogunkoya, frowned at the country’s “deteriorating state”.

 

Kano

The NLC and ASUU in Kano called for the removal of Education Minister Alhaji Adamu Adamu and his ministry of labour and employment counterpart Dr. Chris Ngige for their inability to get the government to meet ASUU’s demands.

The protesters sang and raised placards for the removal of the duo while marching peacefully in Kano streets.

Kano State NLC leader, Ado Minjibir, who delivered his address to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje at Government House, urged the federal government to meet ASUU’s demands and also pay their salaries for the periods they had been on strike.

Responding, Ganduje said: “This crisis must be resolved to save the system. We don’t want a system collapse in this country at all. The Nigerian Governors’ forum will ensure that the crisis is permanently resolved,” he said, explaining that the crisis between ASUU and the federal government was inherited from previous administrations.”

 

Ogun

Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, came to a standstill as workers poured into the roads in protest.

The protest, coordinated by the NLC’s Ogun State Council, took off at the NLC State Secretariat on MKO Abiola Way and progressed towards the intersection of Abiola way and Idi – Aba – Iyaiye Road before coursing to the Kuto Bridge section of the state capital and terminating at Governor’s Office, Oke -Mosan.

With the state’s NLC Chairman, Emmanuel Bankole leading, they decried the government’s insensitivity to the plights of students and vowed to align with the national leader of the body, Ayuba Wabba, to shut down the country should the ongoing lecturers’ strike remain unresolved.

At the Governor’s Office, they presented a letter to the State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, which was received on his behalf by the Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi.

 

Yobe

The NLC’s Yobe State chapter including the Nigerian Union of Journalists also joined the protest to the Government House in Damaturu, the state capital.

Led by Yobe State NLC chairman Muktari Tarbutu, the workers declared that the 2023 election would not hold if the government continued to pay deaf ears to ASUU”S demands.

Tarbutu presented a letter to the Governor, Mai Mala Buni which was collected by the state’s Head of Civil Service, Alhaji Garba Bilal.

 

Abia

The protesting workers of the Abia State chapter of the NLC crippled commercial activities in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.

Vehicular movements within the state capital were affected as the protesters marched through major roads.

The protest didn’t stop both state and federal government workers from going to work as they were sighted in their various offices, but two commercial banks closed shop in Umuahia.

Speaking during their visit to Government House, the leader of the group, the First Vice-Chairman of NLC in the state, Comrade Sir Hope Ekwuruibe condemned the federal government’s “nonchalant attitude” towards addressing some of the issues raised by ASUU leadership.

“We want the federal government to implement the agreement that they reached with ASUU and other affiliate unions,” he said.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chris Ezem, assured the protesters that the state was willing to play its part to ensure that the issue between ASUU and the federal government was resolved.

 

Ondo

In Ondo, protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as “Enough Is Enough, “End ASUU strike now,” “Don’t turn our children into criminals,” and “Our right must be respected,” among others.

Ondo NLC chairman, Sunday Adeleye, urged the federal government to yield to the demands of the striking university lecturers so that students could return to their classrooms.

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who promised that their agitations would be taken to the Presidency, said “nobody is happy with how the country is being run at the moment.”

He spoke through the Ondo Head of Service, John Adeyemo.

 

Delta

The NLC’s Delta Chapter vowed to cripple the nation’s economy unless the Federal Government met ASUU’s demands.

Hundreds of union members and affiliates marched in protest through major streets of Asaba, Delta Capital in protest with striking university lecturers.

At the Delta State government House gate, the leaders berated the federal government for failing the youths and causing grave damage to the educational sector.

First Vice-Chairman (NLC) Delta Chapter Zico Okwudi warned that the NLC would join the strike in a bid to ground the nation’s economy and ensure all schools are shut down.

 

  Bauchi

The NLC in Bauchi State accused the federal government of negligence and lack of political will to resolve the lingering ASUU strike.

It demanded a resolution of the issue within two days to allow lecturers to go back to their respective institutions of learning.

Leading a solidarity protest to the Government House in the state capital, NLC Bauchi Chairman Danjuma Saleh handed a demand letter to Governor Bala Mohammed.

“An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us; we’re calling on the federal government to quickly resolve this matter without any further delay. Our members have suffered just because they are demanding their rights to be paid to them,” he said.

 

 Kebbi

Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State urged labour unions to work towards ending the prolonged and recurring ASUU strikes.

The Governor spoke at Government House, Birnin Kebbi, when the Kebbi State NLC Chairman, Alhassan Halidu, alongside the executives of the ASUU, and other affiliated unions presented a letter to him during the solidarity rally.

The unions requested Bagudu’s intervention and support to end the lingering ASUU strike.

The governor, who decried the ASUU strike, described it as worrisome, urging the unions in the state to come out with plausible solutions to end the strike.

Bagudu further urged them to proffer workable ways to ensure sustainable funding of Nigeria’s education sector.

 

Ekiti

Members of the NLC’s Ekiti State chapter stormed major streets of the state capital Ado Ekiti, in their numbers.

Joined by students, the workers – decked in branded shirts and bearing placards – converged on the popular Fajuyi Park, Ado-Ekiti, as early as 8am where they took off to some popular locations within the metropolis.

Addressing the protesters, NLC Chairman, Kolapo Olatunde lamented the lingering strike which he noted had crippled tertiary education in the country.

“We are utterly dismayed by the federal government’s paralysis and reluctance to take the necessary step that could lead to the peaceful resolution of the issue in dispute and by extension, end the strike.”

He appealed to the federal government to accede to the demands of university lecturers to allow students to return to their classrooms.

 

 Taraba

The NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, demanded that the federal government should resolve the strike with “immediate effect”.

They converged on the NLC secretariat from where they proceeded to the Government House, making intermittent stops on the way, chanting slogans and carrying placards with several inscriptions.

Chairman, NLC Taraba State, Peter Dobiala said the workers would “continue to protest if the government does not intervene”.

On his part, Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Taraba state, Sule Abasu, said hoodlums had attempted to hijack the protest but were not successful because the participants were organised.

He demanded that the federal government through the state government should open the universities with “immediate effect,” saying “our children have become a problem to us”.

The state’s Commissioner for Special Duties, Pininga Binga, received the protesters at the Government House on the governor’s behalf.