From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The peaceful solidarity protest staged by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Civil Society Organisations over the five months old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, caused gridlock in various parts of Benin City, even as there was a heavy security presence, especially at the main campus of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and its Ekheuan satellite campus.
As early as 7 am, armed and unarmed police personnel have taken over the gates of the two campuses of UNIBEN in anticipation of the protest by the labour union and civil society leaders and members who had gathered at the Benin Museum ground in Oba Ovonranmwen Square (Ring Road) as a take-off point.
From there, the group marched to Government House at Osadebey Avenue, creating gridlock along adjoining streets across the city in the process.
Speaking at the government house, the Acting State Chairman of NLC, Odion Olaye, said: “We are here in solidarity with our affiliate unions in our universities as directed by the national leadership of NLC through the emergency NEC (National Executive Committee) meeting we held on June 30th.
“We believe there is a need for the federal government to take action on this which is the reason for this letter from the national president to be submitted to the governor, Godwin Neghoghase Obaseki.”
Receiving the protesters, Governor Obaseki, represented by his Chief of Staff, Osaigbovo Iyoha, regretted the inability of the federal government to resolve the five-month-old strike.
He also commented on the internal crisis in tertiary institutions in the state and said the governor would soon fix a date to meet with the unions.