Abia State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress led her affiliate members in a nationwide solidarity protest against the inability of the Federal government to fulfill the agreement it entered with the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The members of the NLC marched in solidarity with the striking lecturers across the major streets of Umuahia, the state capital, on Tuesday.
In his remark, the ASUU coordinator for Owerri Zone, Uzor Onyembinama, said, “As we speak, we have rolled out five agreements. We are shocked to hear from the Minister of Education saying that there is no agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU.”
Addressing the members of the affiliate unions, the state’s Vice Chairman of NLC, Comrade Hope Ekwuruibe, thanked them for turning up for the nationwide protest in solidarity with ASUU on their demands for implementation of its agreement with the Federal Government sometime in 2009.
According to the Labour leader, the solidarity complied with a directive from the National Secretariat to join in the nationwide protest.
He insisted that what concerns the educational sector should be a major issue affecting every right-thinking Nigerians, irrespective of status.
At the government house entrance gate, the State Vice Chairman of NLC presented the opinion of the organised labour in the Country to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem.
He said the workers were on a mission, adding, “A mission which affects you and me. This impasse started on 14th February 2022, over non-implementation of an agreement reached with the Federal Government among other demands.”
Ekwuruibe maintained that the protest was not associated with violence but rather a peaceful one, saying, “We are tired with this happening. Nigeria now has become a caricature before the committee of nations. We are all affected; whether you are poor or rich”.
Addressing the peaceful protesters, the representative of the State Government, Chris Ezem, who was intermittently disrupted by some members of the organised labour said, “But you said this is a peaceful protest, but why are you embarrassing me? We believe in it, I am part of it. I have two children at home because of this prolonged face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU and other unions within the educational sector”.
Ezem attracted unpleasant reactions from a section of the protesters when he said, “We know that Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu is an Education Friendly Governor.”
It was observed that while the peaceful procession was going on, some Commercial Banks along Akanu Ibiam Road hurriedly closed temporarily. At the same time, a traffic grid lasted while the protest lasted.
Other affiliate unions that joined in the solidarity protest included the National Union of Journalists, National Union of Local Government Employees, Nigeria Civil Service Union, Non-Academic Union of Allied and Education Institutions, and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, among other unions.
However, the absence of the representatives from the Trade Union Congress was noted.