By Bassey Udo
Concerned about the lingering disagreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), organised Labour on Friday called on the Federal Government to implement all agreements with the university teachers to protect the future of Nigerian youths.
Following the refusal of the Federal Government to honour the terms of the re-negotiated 2009 agreement with ASUU signed since May 2021, the union again declared an indefinite nationwide strike beginning last Monday.
The agreement signed with ASUU has five components, including funding for revitalisation, autonomy for universities and enhanced welfare for the lecturers.
Although the Federal Government made some proposals on university funding and new salaries for the lecturers, it promised to take the matter for further consultation before the final approval.
But ASUU has continued accused the government of not demonstrating sufficient commitment to conclude the negotiations, hence the latest strike action.
Describing as “very unfortunate” the current industrial impasse with ASUU, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged the Federal Government to do all within iys powers to implement all the agreements.
“The issues in contention include the 2009 Re-negotiated Agreement. The Federal Government took the draft Agreement and promised to consult and return to conclude the signing.
“The Federal Government is yet to conclude the signing of the agreement. Also, government is yet to honour the terms reached at the May 2021 Agreement signed with ASUU.
“In order to protect the future of our youths whose academic life is being disrupted, we urge the Federal Government to implement all the agreements it entered with ASUU.
“Specifically, we call on government to sign the re-negotiated agreement with ASUU,” the NLC said in a statement by its National President, Ayuba Wabba.
Wabba said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Federal Government team to meet with ASUU to resolve all outstanding issues, saying all relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) must ensure the directive was carried out without further delay to end the stalemate.
On the current petrol scarcity all over the country, the NLC condemned the crisis, which it said has exposed millions of Nigerian motorists and commuters to great hardship.
The current crisis, the NLC noted, was attributable to petroleum products hoarding, adding that all petrol marketers must show sensitivity to the difficulties faced by generality of Nigerians and ensure prompt discharge of petrol to consumers.
The NLC President call on all regulatory agencies of government in the downstream sectors of the petroleum industry to rein in the activities of unscrupulous petroleum products marketers who go to ridiculous extent to make dishonest gains at the detriment of their fellow citizens.
Wabba said the current crisis reinforces Labour’s argument for domestic refining of petroleum products in Nigeria.
On the National Minimum Wage, the NLC said following a recent agreement with the Kogi State Government on the implementation, only Abia, Cross River, Zamfara and Taraba state governments are yet to commence implementation of the national minimum wage.
yet to commence implementation of the national minimum wage.
“We demand that the affected states commence implementation without further delay as acting otherwise is tantamount to breaking Nigeria’s law,” Wabba said.
On the recent Supreme Court judgement on Executive Order 10, which provided guidelines for the implementation of autonomy for the local government councils, state legislatures and the judiciary, the NLC said despite the ruling of the Supreme Court it still believed it did not remove the Constitutional provisions prescribing and protecting the autonomy of local governments, state legislature and the Judiciary.
“We respect the judgement of the Supreme Court on Executive Order 10 declared by President Muhammadu Buhari to provide guideline for the implementation of the autonomy of local governments, state legislatures and the judiciary.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to categorically restate its full-fledged support for the autonomy of local governments, state houses of assembly and the judiciary. It is our considered view that the autonomy of these critical tier and arms of government is paramount to our collective commitment to strengthen public institutions for effective delivery of good governance and national development.
In further demonstration of its resolve to entrench the autonomy of local governments, state legislatures and the judiciary, the NLC said it would continue to clamour for the strengthening of the autonomy of these critical institutions of government in the ongoing constitution review and amendment.
It promised to also embark on a number of national actions and campaigns to raise public awareness on the issue, adding apart from local government autonomy, there was need to strengthen democratic governance at the grassroots.
Wabba said Labour’s experience since the creation of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) was a tale of massive abuse and truncation of free, fair and periodic elections at the local government councils.
Consequently, Wabba said the Nigerian workers support the current amendment to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct local government elections all over Nigeria.
He called on all well-meaning Nigerians, especially members of State Houses of Assembly to look beyond partisan interests and support the, current move to restore electoral credibility at the grassroots.