The federal government has declared the proposed protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions in the university as illegal.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on the issue on Wednesday while briefing State House reporters at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said it was a recipe for anarchy.
Recall that the NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to press home the need to resolve the over five-month-old ASUU strike.
Mohammed, however, said such street protest would be illegal because the NLC had no dispute with the government, adding that the action would be an attempt to instigate anarchy in the country.
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 is a party to the committee that is looking into the solution.
“So, calling out people on a street protest, you begin to wonder, what the motive of NLC in this matter is.
“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 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 mobilising people to come out on strike on July 26 and 27, is clearly on nothing,” Lai stated.
When told that NLC was worried about the prolonged strike which had been affecting their children as well, the minister said the federal government was 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 umbrella body to find solution, to join the federal government in finding solution. They are part of the tripartite team negotiating with federal government on this ASUU issue. So, why are they now going out to take sides?
“And I think the NLC should think twice about their proposed strike in solidarity with ASUU. It 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?”