The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that it is well within its rights to protest against the continued stay of students at home, following failure of the authorities to reach an agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
NLC President Ayuba Wabba in a statement on Wednesday, said “it is elementary knowledge, that the right to peaceful assembly and protest is fundamental global rights guaranteed by the UN Charter on Human and Peoples’ right and the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria”.
Wabba’s comment was in reply to a statement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Lai Mohammed, suggesting that a proposed NLC protest in solidarity with ASUU is illegal.
Mr Mohammed told State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari that the NLC was in no dispute with the federal government and as such considers its planned street protest illegal.
The Information Minister added that NLC’s planned action was based on self-interest and a planned action was capable of stoking anarchy and called on the union to insulate itself completely from politics.
Wabba, who insisted the union would carry on as planned, said the proposed march is not a solidarity protest, and that the NLC is directly involved in the current dispute in the nation’s university system.
“All the four trade unions involved are affiliates of NLC. Secondly as citizens, our children have been out of school for 5 months, the majority are children of the working class and the less privileged, this alone should call for urgent action,” Wabba explained.
He emphasised that all peaceful assembly is lawful and does not require any permission under the law.
According to him, in a democratic society, such a statement as was uttered by the minister is not consistent with the rule of law.
In a letter dated July 15 and addressed to chairpersons of the NLC in the states the congress’ national president, Ayuba Wabba stated the protest is aimed at what he described as getting “our children back to school and support our unions in Nigeria’s public universities fighting for quality education”.
They designated the Labour House in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and secretariats of the NLC as the takeoff points for the protest.
“We bring you fraternal greetings from the national secretariat of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),” the letter read.
“In line with the decisions of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress held on the 30th of June 2022, we have scheduled as follows the National Days of Protest to get our children back to school and support our unions in Nigeria’s public universities fighting for quality education.
Following this declaration, some student bodies have shown their backing for the planned action