The Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to cancel its planned protest over the prolonged strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university-based unions.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige made the appeal Thursday at a meeting with the leadership of NLC in his office.
Those others at the meeting were: Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo SAN and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ms. Kachollom Daju.
Ngige updated the labour leaders on efforts so far made by the Federal Government to resolve the impasse in the university system, saying that efforts were still ongoing.
The Minister reminded the NLC leadership that he incorporated them into the tripartite conciliation going on in his Ministry and being very much aware of the efforts of the Government to resolve the impasse, they cannot embark on any rally or protest.
In a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the minister further told the labour leaders that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) mandated him to notify them of the serious security implications of the planned protest.
According to him, a security report also sent to his office by the Department of State Services (DSS), strongly warned against holding the protest, slated for July 26 and 27.
He urged the NLC National Executive Council (NEC) to reconsider the planned rally as hoodlums might take advantage of it to cause a breach of security.
Ngige expressed the concern of the Government that politicians might cash in on the rally to wreak havoc in the country.
He said: “The masses might wrongly interpret the rally as a ploy by the NLC to enhance the chances of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, a situation which could spur the supporters of the other political parties into violence.
“Section 40 of the constitution is clear on Freedom of Association. One of the provisions is that people of like minds can organise themselves and form a political party. There is also a provision that people in work or employment can organise themselves into unions. They are two parallels. Parallels don’t meet.
“I heard when you said you are mobilising for Labour Party. But, a trade union is not a political party. Look at the Trade Union Act. It does not allow trade unions to use their contributions to support any political party.”
Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Najeem Usman and General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboajah assured the Government of a peaceful protest by the Congress, saying that infiltrators would not be allowed to participate in the protest.
Ugboajah said NLC appreciates all the efforts of Ngige towards the resolution of the industrial actions in the university system and pleads with him not to hand over the conciliation.
Ugboajah added: “We commend you for championing the harmonisation of salaries of workers in the country. We don’t understand why a messenger in NNPC or Central Bank should be earning more than a level 8 officer in the Ministry.”