Relief As Labour Leaders Suspend Indefinite Strike

Relief As Labour Leaders Suspend Indefinite Strike

After a meeting with the national security adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have suspended the two-day old nationwide strike.

The labour leaders took their discussion with the NSA to both congresses extra-ordinary joint National Executive Council (NEC) meeting yesterday evening where the decision to suspend the strike was reached.

NLC general-secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja and the TUC deputy president, Tommy Etim, confirmed the development to journalists in Abuja.

They said the federal government through the NSA had shown commitment at the earlier meeting that those arrested over the assault on NLC president, Joe Ajaero would be prosecuted.

Among federal government delegation at the meeting were; Nuhu Ribadu, the minister of labour and employment, Simon Lalong, the minister of state, labour and employment, Nkeiruka Onyeajeocha and the ministry’s acting permanent secretary Emmanuel Igbinosa with the director, trade union services.

On the labour side were the national president of TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo, the NLC secretary-general, Emmanuel Ugboaja, as well as TUC secretary-general Nuhu Toro and other labour leaders.

The strike which entered the second day yesterday was in protest against failure of the federal government to implement six-point core demands of organised labour  after Ajaero was assaulted in Imo State.

Earlier yesterday, the national security adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribdau, had said the suspects in Ajaero’s brutalisation had been arrested and pleaded with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to call off the nationwide indefinite strike, but the workers’ unions have not yielded to the plea.

The industrial action embarked on by the organised labour crippled academic activities in some federal universities.

The strike came despite an injunction by the National Industrial Court (NIC), in Abuja, restraining NLC and TUC alongside their affiliates from embarking on any industrial action.

When our correspondent visited some institutions, it was observed that the directive witnessed partial compliance in some universities, while other campuses were totally shut.

Members of ASUU at the Kaduna State University (KASU) and those of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, were away from their duty posts.

In a letter addressed to the vice chancellor of KASU, jointly signed by its chairman and secretary, Dr Peter Adamu and Dr Peter Waziri, respectively, said they had decided to comply with instruction of the NLC-ASUU to join the strike effective from 15th November, 2023.

Similarly, in another letter by the SSANU, ABU Zaria branch, to the vice chancellor also informed the university authorities of the withdrawal of their services in compliance to the national body’s instruction.

At Joseph Sarwuam Tarkaa University, Makurdi, it was observed that the institution shifted all examinations from Wednesday, 15th November, 2023 to Monday, 20th November, 2023.

A student of the university identified simply as Cletus lamented that the decision will affect them, especially students who were due to go for industrial attachment in December after finishing their examination.

Meanwhile, a memo from the school, obtained by our correspondent, which was signed by the registrar, Dr. John David, said the university administration was in receipt of communications from unions on campus over the declared strike by NLC and TUC which directed all unions as affiliates of NLC to totally comply.

“Sequel to the above, the University Administration met with the Unions and resolved to shift all examinations from Wednesday, 15th November, 2023 to Monday, 20th November, 2023.

Earlier, Bayero University Kano (BUK) had announced the suspension of all ongoing first semester undergraduate examinations and other academic activities for the 2022/2023 academic session.

This was contained in a statement signed by the university’s acting registrar, Amina Abdullahi Umar.

ASUU at Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete and the University of Ilorin joined the ongoing indefinite strike ordered by the Nigeria Labour Congress ((NLC).

The director of university relations, Dr Saeeda Aliyu, also confirmed that the academic staff had downed tool, adding that it was a national issue as there was no industrial dispute between KWASU’s management and ASUU.

In Niger State, the industrial unions in the state-owned IBB University, Lapa, complied with the indefinite strike, but at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, normal academic activities took place.

We observed at IBB University that the school neither opened for lectures nor tests even as the semester was coming to an end.

Some of the students interviewed expressed concern over their fate now that the organised labour has declared indefinite strike at the critical time of the semester.

The ASUU chairman IBB University, Dr Abdu Mohammed, told our correspondent that they mobilised their members to fully comply with the organised labour’s call.

Speaking on the strike, the chairman, EKSU-ASUU, Dr Kayode Arogundade said the decision of the union to join the strike was not their making but it was a directive from their national body.

A 200-level student of the state-owned university, who simply identified herself as Adenike, said the strike was an attempt to elongate their stay on campus.

In Kebbi State, our correspondent yesterday gathered that the two universities in the state, i.e Federal University Birnin Kebbi (FUBK) and the state-owned Kebbi State University of Science and Technology (KSUSTA) Aliero, did not join the strike.

Students and lecturers were busy attending lectures and other academic activities in the two campuses of the universities.

Some students who spoke to Leadership on condition of anonymity expressed their happiness for the lukewarm attitude by authorities of the institutions regarding the strike of the NLC.

Also, lecturers at Bauchi State University, Gadau (BASUG), in defiance to the directive of the ASUU to all members to join NLC strike, continue to conduct end of semester examinations for students of the university.

A check by Journalists at the Yuli and Gadau Campuses of the university showed that lecturers continued to supervise the examinations as planned while students reported at the appropriate venues to take the exams.

Efforts to get leadership of ASUU BASUG chapter to comment on the issue were abortive as calls put through the lines of the union’s secretary, Ismail Hassan, were not responded to.

However, the situation was different at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, where academic activities were paralyzed because of the strike.

A student of the university, Mohammed Gidado said: “We came in the morning but not a single lecturer entered our class. Screening for fresh students also stopped. You can see the candidates who turned up for admission screening stranded.”

Although lecturers of the University of Port Harcourt joined the ongoing strike, their counterparts in Rivers State University (RSU) shunned it

Speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, spokesman of the University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Sam Kpenu, said the decision to join the strike was in obedience to the directive of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

But speaking with our correspondent, a lecturer of the Rivers State University, who pleaded for anonymity, said the local branch of ASUU in the university was yet to receive directives from the national secretariat.

Reacting to the development, a student of the University of Port Harcourt, Glory Amos, said although the action of the lecturers and the organised labour is understandable, it may however affect the school’s academic calendar.

Meanwhile, before the strike was called off yesterday, the Senate had called an emergency meeting with the leadership of the NLC and the TUC towards finding a solution to the nationwide strike that had disrupted activities in the country, including the National Assembly

At the National Assembly, even though lawmakers were allowed access to their chambers by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), journalists and others were not given access to the National Assembly complex for several hours.

But the Senate, during plenary, urged the NLC, TUC, ASUU and other labour unions who joined the strike to end it immediately in the national interest and in adherence to the rule of law.

Also, the House of Representatives took steps towards ending the ongoing strike.

The House resolved to engage with its Senate counterparts and collectively interface with the NLC and TUC for amicable settlement of the industrial action.

This followed the adoption of motion brought under matters of urgent public importance, moved by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who urged the NLC and TUC to have faith in the parliament and dialogue with it over the issue.

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