University students in Kaduna State have joined the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in a solidarity protest with the University Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU on February 14 embarked on industrial action to press home their demands for better welfare of members, revamping of the nation’s education sector, and implementation of the 2009 agreement among several others.
However, the labour unions decided to embark on a solidarity protest nationwide on Tuesday to compel the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the striking lecturers.
Over 40 affiliate unions of the NLC including student unions joined in the peaceful protest held in the Kaduna state capital amid tight security.
Most university students sang solidarity songs and carried placards with various inscriptions like ‘Universities is a shame, sign the draft agreement to end the strike,’ ‘End ASUU strike now,’ ‘Better condition of service is necessary, a pay rise is long overdue,’ etc.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna, ASUU Chairman of Kaduna State University, Dr Silas Amos, said the protest is in compliance with the resolution of the Congress which represents the first in the series of actions the NLC intends to take to compel the government to do the needful.
He accused the Federal Government of being insincere and non-committed to the implementation of the agreement it reached with ASUU in 2009, lamenting that the strike has come at a huge cost to the students, the university staff, and parents and other stakeholders in the education sector.
“We are here today because the academic staff are members of trade unions. Because we are members of trade unions, the main organ responsible for trade unionism in Nigeria is the Nigerian Labour Congress,” he said.
“We are an arm of the NLC. The Nigerian Labour Congress met and found out that a lot of their members were passing through difficulties and this thing has been lingering on. For the past six months, universities have been closed because of this.
“They felt it was necessary for us to come out and show that understanding that being part of them, and the suffering that the parents of these students are passing through, they need to press on government to take the necessary steps to be able to do the right thing.”
Noting that industrial action by ASUU was avoidable if the Federal government had fulfilled all the agreements it entered into with the University lecturers, he warned that the Nigerian workers will declare a total shutdown of the economy if the Federal government fails to resolve issues with ASUU as soon as possible.
The protesting students, NLC and ASUU members later marched down to the Kaduna State House of Assembly where they delivered their protest letter to the Deputy Speaker, Isaac Auta.
Receiving them, the deputy speaker assured them that the house will look into their demands with utmost importance.
“On behalf of Mr Speaker and members of this honourable house, I want to thank the Labour for your patience. This house is behind you, our desire is to see that our students are back to school,” he said.
“I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to make sure that these demands are met. Because of the passion Mr Speaker has for this nation and he is the Chairman of the Northern States Assembly Speakers, he is already in Abuja trying to wade into this matter.”
Auta regretted that the prolonged strike has kept students at home for over five months, asking the Federal Government to address the lecturers’ demands.