NLC solidarity rally holds today, police warn hoodlums
The police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps will deploy personnel in critical infrastructure and facilities in response to the nationwide protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress in solidarity with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities taking place on Tuesday (today).
As security agencies moved to deploy their men and officers, the Nigeria Labour Congress on Monday directed workers in state capitals and Abuja to join the protest.
A top source at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, confirmed to The PUNCH on Monday that police operatives would be deployed in all protest venues nationwide to prevent a security breach or attack on the participants by thugs.
The police source said, “Of course, we will deploy our men; that is standard procedure. Our duty is to ensure the safety of lives and property during any public protest or rally. We can’t stop the unions or other Nigerians from holding rallies or peaceful protests.’’
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, declined comment on the deployment but the Commissioners of Police in Ebonyi and Gombe and the police spokespersons in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Plateau, Ogun, Osun and Gombe confirmed to our correspondents that their men would be at the rally grounds.
Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence spokesperson, Shola Odumosu, said armed and unarmed personnel would be on the ground to protect the protesters and Nigerians.
He said, “We understand that at times like this, thugs would want to take advantage and launch their attacks. Among those we will be deploying apart from the armed and unarmed personnel are men from our intelligence department.”
The NLC had said the protest would hold at all the state capitals today while the mega rally would take place in Abuja on Wednesday to pressure the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands.
About 40 NLC affiliates, including aviation, bank, oil and gas, electricity and construction workers are expected to participate in the protest.
ASUU had shut all public universities and commenced its ongoing strike on February 14, 2022, after the FG failed to meet some of its demands including the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had last Wednesday declared the protest illegal, saying the NLC had no dispute with the government.
The next day, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, also cautioned against the demonstration, saying he received a security report from the Department of State Services that the rally might be hijacked by hoodlums.
Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, the Head, Information and Public Affairs of the NLC, Mr Benson Upah, reiterated that the rally would hold as planned.
The Federal Capital Territory police command spokesperson, Josephine, Adeh, gave the assurance that the command would deploy men to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.
She said, “For every protest, we always deploy (personnel), so our normal deployment would be on. We would be there to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order. We would be there to apprehend anyone who goes against the law. They (NLC) have informed us they will be coming out.”
Police warn hoodlums
The Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi State, Garba Aliyu, said his men would deal decisively with “perpetrators of actions not in conformity with the law’’ during the rally.
Speaking in a telephone interview on Monday, the police boss said, “We are always there to protect lives and property and we will not allow anybody to do anything that will infringe on other people’s rights. So, whatever they are going to do, must be done within the confines of the law.
“Security is well in place and from what we are seeing or envisaging, there’s nothing that will cause a breach of peace. If they plan to hold rallies, let it be done within the ambit of the law; but if on the contrary, our men will deal with them decisively.’’
Speaking on the security arrangement for the protest, the Gombe State Commissioner of Police, Ishola Babaita, pledged to provide protection for union leaders and other participants during the rally.
Speaking on Monday, in an interview with journalists, Babaita urged the unions to organise themselves in a lawful manner.
He said, “We will give them the necessary security covering but they should not allow hoodlums to hijack the protest. We can’t stop them but we will make sure they are guided.”
The Spokesman for the state Police Command, Alabo Alfred, said that officers and men of the command had been deployed in the strategic locations, including the protest venue to prevent a breakdown of law and order during the protest.
A spokesperson for the Osun Police Command, Yemisi Opalola, said a meeting was held with the labour leaders in the state to ensure that the protest was peaceful.
According to her, police operatives have been assigned to monitor the protesters and follow them through the routes that have been already indicated, adding that other security measures have also been put in place to protect public infrastructure during the protest.
The Ogun State Police Command assured residents of the state of their safety during and after the protest.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
Oyeyemi said, ‘“The command hereby appeals to the general public to go about their lawful business without fear of intimidation or harassment, as the police and other security agencies will be fully on the ground to monitor the situation so as to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the process.’’
On its part, the Kwara State Police Command said its men were prepared to protect the workers who would participate in the rally.
The Command’s spokesperson, SP Ajayi Okasanmi, said, “We have prepared our men to guard them (protesters) so that they would be protected and that nobody will be molested by the hoodlums in case they attempt to hijack the protest.’’
The Oyo State Police Command has also deployed its men to begin to patrol and man public infrastructure in Ibadan and other parts of the state as labour unions stage a protest to force the Federal Government to accede to the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The Police Public Relations Officer for Oyo State, Adewale Osifeso, told one of our correspondents that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Williams Adebowale, had directed all area commanders, and divisional police officers to lead patrols throughout the state during the protest.
NLC hold rallies
Giving an update on the mode of the protest, the Head of Information and Public Affairs, NLC, Upah, said the rally would be held at all the state capitals across the federation.
Asked if all workers were expected to take part in the street protest, he said, ‘’Oh sure. Why not? You know there’s a difference between a rally and a strike. What we are doing is a rally. It’s different from a strike.
“A rally does not necessarily mean that they have to shut down places. So a rally is different from a strike. All I know is that it is a rally, not strike action.
‘’I cannot comment on how they intend to execute the rally. All I know is that tomorrow’s rally will take place at every state headquarters. The 36 states of the Federation will rally tomorrow (today.) Wednesday, we will do the mega rally here in Abuja,’’ he pointed out.
The General Secretary, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, Afolabi Olawale, said members of the union were set for the exercise.
Afolabi, however, explained that the workers would not withdraw their services.
Also, the Deputy Secretary General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Oniha Erazua, disclosed that his union would join the rally.
He said, “We are joining the protest tomorrow (today). We are not going to withdraw dockworkers from the ports tomorrow because it has nothing to do with the ports, it is in solidarity with ASUU.’’
Asked if the aviation workers would be on the streets in support of ASUU, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Aba Ocheme, stated, “Yes, we will be joining the public protest. Other aviation groups that are NLC affiliates will be joining the protest.
However, the President of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association, Abayomi Agoro, said the body was awaiting directives to join the protest.
Agoro, in a telephone chat with The PUNCH, said, “Well, my union has not called on us for any strike or protest. ATSSAN has not directed us on any strike, we are a part of TUC which is ATSSAN.
Also, the President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Ilitrus Ahmad, when contacted, said, “We are not joining the NLC’s protest. We are not part of them, we don’t have any directive to join the strike. We belong to the TUC.”
Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions have been directed to gather at the Ikeja underbridge for the rally.
Lagos State ASUU and SSANU chairmen, Dr Dele Ashiru and Mr Olushola Showunmi, respectively, told The PUNCH that the take-off point was at Ikeja by 7.30 am, adding that they would march peacefully to the Lagos State Governor’s office at Alausa.
The Lagos State Chairman of the NLC, Mrs Funmi Sessi, urged Lagosians to take part in the protest.
Sessi, in an interview with The PUNCH, directed all sectors including health, electricity and aviation to shut down operations and join the solidarity protest in support of the striking workers.
Sessi directed all sectors including the health, electricity and aviation to shut down operations and join the solidarity protest in support of the striking workers.
“We will be converging as early as 6:30 a.m. at Ikeja and take off by 7.00 a.m. to deliver a letter to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Alausa. The protest is to support ASUU in the ongoing strike. So, we call on all affiliate members to come out en masse,’’ she added.
ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Lagos State, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, said the protest was for liberation of the nation’s tertiary education, noting that lecturers were being paid slave salaries.
A group, Reform Education Nigeria, similarly announced its support for the proposed solidarity protest by the NLC.
Eighty pupils of Sunshine Nursery and Primary School, Ile-Ife, Osun state on Monday staged a peaceful protest at the main entrance to the Obafemi Awolowo University to demand an end to the ASUU strike.
The pupils who were led by the proprietor of the school, Dr. Bisi Anyadike, bore placards with inscriptions such as ‘my future counts,’ ‘future education is now a national emergency,’ ‘when you stand up ASUU, then stand up for us.’
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Osodeke, ASUU President to deliver 14th Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture
The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities,( ASUU) Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke will on Friday February 3 deliver the 14th edition of the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture at Akin Deko Memorial Lecture Auditorium, University of Benin, Benin, Edo State.
Prof Osodeke will be speaking on the theme: State of Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Identifying Historical Issues and Misconceptions; Contemplating Solutions.
The lecture , an initiative of the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) was instituted to honour one of its founders, Ralph Opara, a prolific writer, producer and broadcaster.
The NAS Capoon , Mr Abiola Owoaje in statement said over the years, the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture series has emerged as a veritable platform for interrogating topical national and global issues, for engendering and promoting good governance, accountability, democracy, citizens’ participation and economic development.
He disclosed that previous speakers of the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture include Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, a former President of ASUU, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dr. Sam Amadi, Mr. Femi Falana and Dr. Hussani Abdu.
According to Owoaje this year’s lecture focusing on tertiary education was borne out of the disturbing decadence that pervades Nigeria’s higher institutions.
He stated that as an organisation founded in a university campus that draws its membership strictly from the intellectual pool of university and polytechnic graduates, “we are worried that our higher institutions have lost significant value as citadels of learning due to poor funding, lack of infrastructure and adequate educational and recreation facilities, while becoming a breeding ground for gangsterism, violence and criminality.”
He pointed out that the lecture seeks to address the multifaceted problems in Nigeria’s higher institutions which includes infrastructural development, the scourge of cultism and the perennial indifference of the Nigerian government to the development of higher education in the country.
He disclosed that the event will be chaired by Prof. Temi Akporhonor (Dean, Post Graduate School, Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State) and the special guest discussants include Dr. Joan Oviawe Honourable Commissioner for Education, Edo State), Dr. Osagie Obayuwana (Former Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Edo State) and Prof. Samuel Ovenseri Aibueku (Former Director, Joint Universities Preliminary Examinations Board (JUPEB), University of Benin).
The event is expected to attract members of ASUU, university administrators including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Education Institutions (NASU), students of tertiary institutions, civil society organisations and the Media.
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SEADOGS, PYRATES CONFRATERNITY, ASH MONTANA DECK, CALLS FOR REFORMS IN EDUCATION
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, Ash Montana Deck, has advocated reforms and systemic changes in the educational sector in Nigeria, as this will help to achieve a secure, just and progressive society and future. It noted that the country should think outside the box to come up with an educational system and structure that is constructively and productively be forward looking in positioning us for the future and creating the kind of society we desire. It added that instead of adopting and or adapting systems from other climes, we come up with a home-grown hybrid educational system and policies suitable for our unique experience. This call was made during the programme, Panorama on Splash 106.7 FM, Abeokuta, Ogun State, in commemoration of the International Day of Education on 24th January, 2023.
The association reiterated that education is important for a viral society; and without education, there will be no civilisation and no development. Therefore, the government and all stakeholders should, as a matter of urgency, prioritise education for peace and sustainable development. While reacting to some of the problems of education in the state including the issue of out-of-school children, decline in educational development, and lack of interest for education by children and youths these days, the association opined that several factors may be attributed; including, inequality, poverty, insecurity, infrastructure decay, our eroding value systems, violence, and the rather retrogressive, obsolete educational system and policies that seem not to be positioning us to compete globally in the ever changing and emerging dynamics of the world. It appeals to the government and other policy makers to stop paying lip service in addressing the problems be-deviling education in Nigeria. Adding that there should be sincerity of purpose in policy thrust, promises made and their implementation. It added that corruption with its rippling effects is equally at the heart of the problems. Tackling corruption and corrupt practices will go a long way. The association further added that the government should do more to reduce poverty and improve the standard of living for families; provide social amenities for the people; provide and or improve infrastructures in schools.
The International Day of Education is celebrated globally every 24th January to emphasize the importance of education for global peace and sustainable development. Education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goal 4; education is a human right, a public good and a social responsibility and everyone is entitled to it, irrespective of age, gender, status, creed and any attachments. With inclusive, equitable quality education, lifelong opportunities can be created for all; individuals and society will develop, and the cycle of poverty will be broken (unesco.org). The global theme for this year’s celebration is: “To invest in people, prioritise education”. An idea that society will develop and progress when it invest in its people through their education. Still in line with the essence of the event and the theme of course, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) Ash Montana Deck, adopted the sub-theme: “Reinventing our educational system for a secure and progressive future”. This is contained in its call for educational reforms.
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious and detribalised organisation whose aim is to promote a society that upholds human dignity, that
is just, humane and progressive, where no one is a victim of colour, race, gender, ethnic origin, belief, social status, creed or other
discriminatory factors of a similar nature through the use of advocacy and activism, investigative
research, education, public enlightenment,
and litigation to resist, wherever and whenever
such may occur. It is registered with the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Corperate Affairs Commission.
Ash Montana Deck
ASUU to hold emergency meeting tomorrow over suspension of strike
ABUJA-THE striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, will convene emergency National Executive Council, NEC meeting on Thursday, to review recent developments, especially the positive response from the federal government to its demands.
Preparatory to the meeting expected to take place at its headquarters in Abuja,the union has directed its zonal branches to collate the views of members through vote during the meetings expected to hold tomorrow in its various zones across the country.
The outcome of the meeting would result in suspension of the strike on late Thursday or Friday morning.
This came as report had emerge in the social media space earlier on Tuesday, claiming that the union had called off the almost 8-month old strike and subsequently directed members to resume academic activities on October 17.
ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, while responding to enquiry to that effect, dismissed the report, saying the strike was yet to be suspended.
He, however,said the union was working towards the suspension of the action, saying the action would be dependent on the views of members from the zonal meetings.
The latest action of the lecturers’union came following the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The Speaker had on Monday,after a meeting with ASUU president and other members,assured that the strike would be suspended very soon, saying his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the union’s action was fruitful.
Earlier,human rights lawyer and counsel to ASUU,Femi Falana,SAN, had also said the union would soon call off its nearly eight-month old strike.
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