The Federal Government on Wednesday, said the planned protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is illegal.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY reports that the NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to compel the government to resolve the over five-month-old strike by varsity lecturers.
Addressing newsmeb on Wednesday, shortly after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, roped in the political under-tone, insisting that NLC being owners of the Labour Party (LP), had no justification to mobilise other unions against the government of the day.
According to the Minister, the planned solidarity strike is unlawful, considering that the NLC has no dispute with the federal government.
Lai in his presentation to State House Correspondents pointed out that taking such steps in support of an affiliate union would amount to an attempt to instigate anarchy in the country.
The Minister also observed that what the Congress is planning to do is about interest, noting that it should insulate itself completely from politics.
He said, “While we’re still on Labour, I think we should also start to interrogate what labour is doing. The NLC is not a political party. The NLC can go on strike or protest if the rights of NLC members are involved. What the NLC is planning in the next two days is about interest.
“There’s no dispute whatsoever between NLC as a body with the federal government. Well yes, that’s a dispute between some members of NLC, ASUU whatever and the federal government which is being looked into. And NLC itself it’s a party to the committee that is looking into the solution. So calling out people on street protests you begin to wonder, what is the motive of NLC in this matter?
“But you see here, we do not interrogate what NLC is doing. NLC by its own laws, cannot even give out pamphlets. And NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. Now, if you declare a dispute with us, yes you can go on strike. Even that one would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not. But this particular NLC, you know, asking and mobilizing people to come out on strike on July 26 and 27, is clearly on nothing”.
Reminded that NLC was worried about the prolonged strike which is affecting their children as well, Lai said: “the federal government is as worried as NLC and everybody, but the law is the law. What we are saying is that rather than…what I expect NLC to do as an umbrella body to find solutions, to join the federal government in finding solutions.
“They are part of the tripartite agreement that I’ve been negotiating with the federal government on this ASUU issue. So why are they now going out to take sides? I think you also interrogate it yourselves. I think is popular to get NLC out and support but ask yourself how does that help the problem?
“How does that solve the problem? What you are going to create is more anarchy. And I think the NLC should think twice about their proposed strike in solidarity with ASUU. Is as if the federal government is doing nothing about ASUU. No. And they’ve been involved in this negotiation all along so why now?