JOE EFFIONG, UYO
Akwa Ibom state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has lamented that the change Nigerians craved for has now come with drastic consequences which have left Nigeria and its people worse than expected.
State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Sunny James, who said this in Uyo on Tuesday when he led workers in the state on a protest rally in solidarity with the striking Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), expressed disappointment over the inability of the federal government to meet the demands of the university workers more than five months ago
Addressing the protesters who converged at the entrance of the Government House Uyo, Comrade James said, “For those of you that looked for change, we have experienced a change in drastic dimensions, the change has come to be worse.”
“Comrades, as we know, for a while now, Nigerian workers who are affiliates of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union, and NATS have been on strike. Negotiations have been going back and forth on the matter with the federal government and the negotiations have not brought any result therefore NLC decided to intervene for these reliable affiliates.”
He expressed disappointment that the federal government has yet to constitute a body to resolve the impasse months after it agreed to do so in a meeting with the NLC.
“Arising from a meeting held with FG on 30th of June 2022, it was resolved that the FG should set up a team with the view to resolving the impasse. Surprisingly several months have passed nothing has been done and Mr President had in his Sallah message to Nigeria workers said enough is enough.
“Just a week ago the president gave a two weeks marching order to the Ministry of Education to resolve ASUU NASU, SSANU and NAT matter, one week later, nothing has happened, that is why NLC decided to deliver this letter to the governor with assurances that he will talk to them and tell them to resolve this matter
“This particular protest is in three tranches, this is the first tranche, the second one is coming very soon which will take the form of a three-day nationwide strike, then the third one if others are not achieved in a significant record time, NLC has put everything on the ground to embark on a full-fledged strike and they are going to be done concurrently.”
Responding, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State expressed concern over the prolonged strike, adding that any system that cannot ensure continuity is a loser.
The governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, said as long as the strike continues there would be negative ripples including the capital flight of sending children to other countries and insecurity as according to him “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop”
“Whoever feels that education is too expensive, let him try ignorance
Mr President, your remark about the fact that our boys and girls are idling at home, it is far more than that.
“Now within our socio-Economic system, we have those who are retiring and those who are being employed. The power of knowledge is what makes the human society develop from one generation to another, and you cannot fool around with knowledge because as you acquire the knowledge you transmit the same in the universities.
“So, we agree with you that you are a loser when you cannot ensure continuity. Those who are graduating and those who are coming in. So by this strike we are delaying those who are coming into the universities and other tertiary institutions. By this strike we are delaying those who would have gone on NYSC, to serve the country.
“By this same strike, we are discouraging parents from sending their children to schools in Nigeria. We forget to mention the flight of capital caused by many Nigerians sending their children abroad because of fear of one strike or the other, caused by the inability to address the problems facing the educational system.” The governor said.