An Audacity taken over the weakness of the Ayuba Waba Led NLC

By Dagga Tolar

The Movement for Socialist Alternatives (MSA) condemned in totality the Edo state government over its decision to suspend the activities of unions in the education sectors in the state-owned institutions of higher learning. This step by the Obaseki-led government of Edo state is undemocratic, cruel and should not be allowed to hold waters.

The affected unions as mentioned by the statement issued by the Secretary to the Edo state government include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), The Non-Academic Staff Union (NSAU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Non-Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and all allied unions operating across all state-owned tertiary institutions. 

The MSA called on all workers’ unions under the banner of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to openly condemned this act of the Edo state government and mobilise its rank and file workers to stop the tyrannical approach of the Obaseki regime. We maintained that if this act is left unchallenged by the Nigerian workers, other attacks from the corrupt ruling elites in government will be melted on the poor working-class people.

Obaseki as governor lacks the constitutional powers to so proscribe a union that the state did not legislate into existence, not when he is elected to protect the rights of citizens. The government therefore cannot turn around to deny workers’ right to organize themselves to legitimacy demand for improved working and living conditions up to the point of going on strike, which is what is currently happening.  

Rather than the Edo state government concretely face the challenges in the education sector and proffer a way out of the decaying dilapidated infrastructures and better emoluments for the striking workers, it rather prefers to suspend the union’s activities so as not to expose the terrible state of education in Edo state. 

It could be recalled that the ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over the federal government’s refusal to implement the agreement it reached with the union. Academic activities have been shut nationwide and students across federal universities and the majority of the state universities have remained out of their classrooms. The FG has continued to deny that there is no fund to implement the agreement it entered into with the workers but in reality, the same government-appointed officers have been reported to be arrested by the EFCC for fraud in the turn of billions of naira. Billions of amount enough to meet the workers’ demand and turn around the university sector as well seeing the students returning to classes.

That the attempt by the Obaseki government to suspend unions’ activities for fighting for a better teaching and learning environment in the country is an audacity taken too far. We call on workers’ to completely ignore this pronouncement as an empty rant, aimed at intimidating workers in all of the educational institutions in Edo state. Workers must remain undaunted and most importantly all of the unions must collectively through national bodies reject this order and as a means of demonstrating the will and relentlessness of workers remain committed to the demands of the current strike action.

We are using this opportunity to call on the national president of the NLC Ayuba Waba to stop issuing empty threats and call for 48 hours of solidarity warning strike in support of the education workers. The threat issued by the NLC leadership in support of the striking workers has shown to be ineffective. Labour must act now to save the education sector as well as the unions.