The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will embark on two-day protest on July 26 to demonstrate against a six-month shutdown of public universities across the country due to pay disagreements between the government and teachers.
The NLC, the country's main umbrella union, represents millions of workers across most sectors of Africa's biggest economy, including parts of the oil industry. It said in a statement it will mobilise workers for the protest for good governance.
Strikes by Nigerian public university teachers are common. The current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASSU) started on Feb. 14. A previous one in 2020 lasted nine months. Pay and teaching facilities have led to previous strikes against the government which provides the bulk of funding for public schools.
ASUU has been at loggerheads with the Federal Government over the years for its refusal to honour the 2009 agreement it entered with the union. Some of the demands include reviewing condition of service of lecturers every five years, revitalisation of public universities, and adoption of UTAS.
National President of ASSU, Prof. Emmanuel Osedeke, said the strike would continue unless the government accepts UTAS and honour the 2009 agreement. “Let government tell us they have finished testing the UTAS and sign the agreement, then tomorrow, we will call off the strike. We challenge the government, when would it sign the agreement? When would it accept UTAS? These are the two questions we should ask Nigerian government.”
Workers in the oil and gas industry, have threatened to join the striking teachers, a situation that could worsen fuel shortages in the country. Nigeria faces mounting insecurity following a wave of kidnappings, high unemployment, inflation, and low growth which could trigger unrest. Meanwhile, the government is experiencing low revenues and large deficits, despite high oil prices.
Education Rights Campaign (ERC) hailed the decision by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a two-day national protest to force the government to meet the demands of ASUU and related unions.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to resolve the lingering strike by the four university-based unions without delay and report back to him within two weeks.
Buhari also directed Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to be part of the team that should immediately resolve the faceoff with the unions.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union is ready to call off the strike anytime there is a “strong commitment” by the government to sign and implement the renegotiated agreement is reached with the university lecturers.