The Nigeria Labour Congress on Thursday said that it would intervene in the face-off between the striking Academic Staff Unions of Universities and the Federal Government.
The NLC’s move was coming amidst appeals and condemnation by other similar bodies, including the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and religious leaders, to the Federal Government and ASUU. While some Lagos clerics urged the government to end the strike, PENGASSAN condemned the Federal Government for not honouring an agreement it had earlier signed with ASUU.
But the President of the NLC, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, who spoke shortly after a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the NLC in Abuja on Thursday, said the congress would persuade the striking university lecturers to resume talks with the government, with a view to resolving the lingering issue.
Omar said the NLC had to take the decision to prevail on ASUU, an affiliate union of the congress, to resume negotiation with the government because of its concern about the suspension of academic activities in the nation’s universities for close to two months.
The NLC president said the congress would also ensure that deliberations between ASUU and the government were fruitful.
He said, “It is a very serious issue we are having on our hands to allow lecturers to be out of the classrooms for close to two months. We are currently embarking on consultation with a view to convincing members of the union to resume negotiation with the federal government.”
However, PENGASSAN, on its part, said it viewed “with deep concern and discontent the ongoing and indeed a recurring strike in our nation’s ivory towers by the Academic Staff Unions of Universities.”
The body said it was condemnable that the ongoing strike had entered its ninth week, without any sign of its being resolved soon “as parties in the crisis continue to trade blame and spoil for more actions on the matter.”
A statement by the Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Seyi Gambo, on Thursday, said, “We have watched with keen interest as the Dr. Nasir Issa Faggie-led ASUU declared a three-day warning strike before it finally embarked on an indefinite strike action on July 1, 2013, towards ensuring that the Federal Government honoured the cardinal agreements reached with the universities lecturers since 2009.”
Similarly, some clerics in Lagos have urged the Federal Government and ASUU to go back to the drawing table and arrive at a final agreement so that universities can reopen.
Vice President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, Pastor Femi Asiwaju, urged the Federal Government to address the demands of ASUU so that students could go back to school.
Also, Imam Luckmon Abdulraheem, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, urged the Federal Government to meet the demands of the union so that the country’s higher institutions could be more equipped and conducive for learning.