By Joan Nwagwu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), says it will embark on a one-day nationwide protest to compel the Federal Government find immediate resolutions to contending issues with education sector unions.
The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba said this during the opening of the Congress’ Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting on Thursday in Abuja.
Wabba expressed sadness over the continued closure of the country’s tertiary institutions due to unresolved labour disputes between the Federal Government and unions in education.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that while the Federal Government continues to work on the demands of the unions, academic activities across all public universities, polytechnics, collages of Education have been suspended.
The unions are demanding funding of the revitalisation fund, earned allowances, implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) scheme, as well as promotion arrears.
Other demands are; the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement, and the resolution of inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), among others.
Wabba said: “You will recall that the last decision we took, we even went to the extent of writing to President Muhammadu Buhari, we gave a 21-day notice for them to converge a very high powered meeting.
“We demanded that the meeting should be chaired either by the Secretary of Government of the Federation (SGF), or the Chief of Staff to the President, for this issue to be resolved once and for all.
“That meeting was called, but from the reports that I have been receiving from all the unions in the education sector, progress has not been made.
“The timeline of three weeks that was given to the committees for all reports to be turned in, and for government to be able to take a concrete decision, has not been met.”
The NLC president however, alleged that there was reluctance by the Federal Government in addressing the issues.
“Therefore, the Central Working Committee has decided that there will be a one-day national protest.
“This is to call the attention of government to resolve the issues immediately.
“We have also asked all our affiliates by the next one week to issue statements,” he said.
He said the decision to embark on the one-day national protest was imperative as children of the poor had continued to remain at home.
He also said that CWC had observed that there was increase in social vices, that could be traced to the fact that youths had been at home for months.
Wabba also condemned the lingering scarcity of fuel and the long queues across the country.
According to him, it is 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 that the situation has brought about dire consequences on productivity, economy and wellbeing of the citizens.
“For instance, diesel is now selling at more than N800 per litre. It is 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 refined petroleum products into Nigeria.
“The consequence is the heavy hemorrhage of our national coffers, especially given our current challenges, which has also brought about the long queues in almost all the filling stations,’’ he said.
He also noted that the situation had affected the purchasing power of many Nigerians, brought hardships, while many businesses had been brought to a halt due to dependence on expensive alternative power sources such as generators.
Wabba therefore, said the only way out of the challenges was to end discussions on whether there was subsidy or not, and refine petroleum products for domestic use.
He also condemned the recent sack of more than 3,000 teachers by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State. (NAN)