THE Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday vowed to join the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, if the federal government failed to address issues raised by the union and put an end to their action.
President of TUC, Quadri Olaleye, who made the vow on behalf of the National Administrative Council, NAC, said: “TUC and its affiliates are unanimous on the return of our children back to school, and government has no excuse whatsoever to further keep these innocent students and their lecturers at home.
”The Congress is worried that a government that could raise money to feed children who were at home during the heat of COVID-19 cannot do same for the education sector now.
“We condemn the continued disruption of academic calendar in public institutions and the apathetic attitude of political office holders, who are busy buying nomination forms at N100, 000,000 while the economy is gasping for breath.
”They make politics expensive to disenfranchise Nigerians of conscience from the political space. The peak of the absurdity is that even serving politicians with no visible projects to their credit are also buying forms to be president.
“We wish to stress that the reason politicians care less about the plight of Nigerians is the fact that their children school and live abroad, what happens in Nigerian public universities is none of their business. ”The time has come for organized labour and all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to honour the collective agreement reached with the university teachers.
”The danger of keeping the students at home at a time the country is facing a serious security challenge is quite grave and unacceptable to us.
“Congress finds it ridiculous that public officers, rather than listen to the voice of reason, avoid and walk out of negotiations. We are convinced that an injury to one is an injury to all.
”Therefore, TUC is strongly in solidarity with the university lecturers and the students in this struggle and we advise that everything must be done to dispense with the impasse to avoid a situation where Congress might be compelled to embark on a solidarity strike.
Meanwhile, the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, said yesterday that the Upper Chamber would intervene in the lingering dispute between the Federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universitie, ASUU, by bringing back the two parties to the negotiation table.
Lawan made the promise to officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, who were led to his office by a concerned Methodist Bishop, Dr. Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha.
The NANS President, Sunday Asefon, who spoke for his colleagues, lamented their continued stay at home and disruption of their academic programme and urged the Senate President to intervene in the dispute between the Federal government and the university teachers.
Responding, the Senate President expressed unhappiness about the turn of events, recalling that the Senate had intervened in the past before everything broke down again.
He, however, promised that the Senate would wade in again and expressed optimism that the issues would soon be resolved.
“You are in the right place, we are going to intervene. We will make concerted and sustained efforts to bring back ASUU and the federal government to the negotiating table, so we are able to resolve as quickly as possible those issues that are now very knotty and have stopped our universities from reopening, that is now making our students walk the streets all over the country.
“But I want to appeal to you too, since we are going to make effort to bring back everybody to the negotiating table, you should give us a chance to do that, believing that we are going to find a solution because it is not only enough to bring them back to the negotiating table, but we will also participate and I want to make sure that we find the solution when we start the negotiation again.”
Also responding to the threat by the students to disrupt political activities, Lawan appealed to them to continue in the path of consultation and avoid confrontation.
“I want to also advise, I don’t think it will be necessary to disrupt political activities. We shouldn’t do that and we don’t need to do that.
‘What we need to do is to continue to follow the path of consultation, consolidation and avoid confrontation. It is when you emphasise consultation, that it is much easier for us to find something that you can consolidate,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said the 2009 agreement which is the crux of the matter, was not properly thought out before it was signed.
“Somebody just wanted ASUU to go back to the classroom and just signed everything there. We must understand that there are things that when we promise, we should do, we must do,” he said