The Federal Government, yesterday, faulted plans by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to hold a two-day solidarity strike in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university-based unions, saying the decision will breed anarchy.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, raised the alarm, while briefing newsmen at the end of a virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The NLC recently announced it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to press home the need to resolve the over five-month old strike, especially by ASUU.
Mohammed warned that the planned protest is unlawful because NLC has no dispute with the Federal Government and urged members of the congress to insulate themselves from politics.
He said: “I think we should also start to interrogate what labour is doing. NLC is not a political party. 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.
“NLC, by its own laws, cannot even give out pamphlets. And NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. If you declare a dispute with us, yes, you can go on strike.
Even that would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not.
“But asking and mobilising people to come out on strike on July 26 and 27 is clearly on nothing.”
Reminded that NLC is worried about the prolonged strike, he said: “The Federal Government is as worried as NLC and everybody. But the law is the law. What I expect NLC to do, as an umbrella body, is to find solution, to join Federal Government in finding a solution.
“They are part of the tripartite agreement that has been negotiating with the Federal Government on the ASUU issue. So, why are they now going out to take sides? How does that solve the problem? What you are going to create is more anarchy.”
On the same note ,ASUU described the two-week ultimatum by Buhari for resolution of the prolonged strike as too long, saying the matter can be solved in a day.
ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this during a Channels TV programme yesterday.
He said the union has had meetings with government representatives, discussed all the issues, and drafted joint agreements that only require signatures to finalise.
He added: “The issue of negotiation has been completed by both sides; salaries, funding and so on. It remains for them to come back to us, saying, ‘We have agreed. Sign!’”
In another development, Education Rights Campaign (ERC) called for a summit to discuss the strike and the deteriorating state of public education.
The group, in a statement signed by its Deputy National Coordinator, Ogunjinmi Isaac, and National Mobilisation Officer, Adaramoye Michael Lenin, said, beyond the planned protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the summit must be used to deliberate on the way forward and map out a line of action.