- TUC issues seven-day ultimatum, plans nationwide protests beginning Sept 23
- We will convince congress, others on price increases at today’s meeting, says FG
Friday Olokor, Adenike Popoola, Adelani Adepegba, Femi Asu and Grace Edema
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday said the Federal Government had surrendered the growth and development of the country to the International Monetary Bank and the World Bank.
The National President of the union, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, who said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Lagos, said the Federal Government should prepare for more crises as people’s anger against the government would worsen as a result of hunger in the land.null
He also said those running “Nigeria today do not love Nigerians,” but relied on the advice of some “outside forces.”
Also on Monday, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria gave the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to reverse the recent increase in electricity tariff and the price of petrol.
The TUC gave the ultimatum in a letter addressed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and dated September 14, 2020.null
The letter titled, ‘We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum,’ was signed by its President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, and the Secretary-General, Mr Musa Lawal.
The congress made the letter available to journalists shortly after its national executive meeting in Abuja on Monday.
The ultimatum was issued 24 hours to the Federal Government’s meeting with the TUC and the Nigeria Labour Congress. The meeting was convened by government to explain the financial condition of the country and the reasons for the increase in the electricity tariff and the fuel price.
Recall that the Federal Government two weeks ago increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N 138.62 to N147.67, prompting marketers to adjust their petrol prices to between N158 and N162 from N148 to N150 in August. The ex-depot price is the price at which government sells petrol to marketers.
The hike was the third within three months and it came at a time when electricity distribution companies increased their tariff.More in Home
Although the Federal Government had defended its action, saying the sharp drop in its revenues could not sustain the subsidy regime, labour leaders and civil rights groups said government was insensitive.
They said the decision was taken at a time when other countries were introducing measures aimed at mitigating hardship caused by COVID-19 lockdown.
The president of ASUU, Ogunyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH, said government did not have any respect for Nigerians.
He stated, “If we are to operate in a country where our votes count, they will think twice before they ignore trade unions’ demands. They will think twice before they rubbish agreements and memoranda.”null
Ogunyemi said government found it difficult to respect agreements it willingly signed with trade union leaders.
He also cautioned government on its over-reliance on external agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank.
He said, “You will agree with me that there is hardly any worker that can boast of meaningful existence with his or her honest income. And if government is ready to take some fundamental steps to redirect the growth and development of Nigeria, if government will continue to surrender the growth and development of this country to external agencies such as the IMF and World Bank, then government should be prepared for more crises because the people will become angrier when they are hungry and that is what they are beginning to see. There will be more of labour unrest.”
He stressed that despite ASUU’s constant negotiations and agreements with the government, it had never paid attention to the university education system.
Ogunyemi stated, “From the perspective of our union, we believe that government has neglected the education sector for too long, particularly the university education sub-system. As much as we have been trying to keep government on track, by reaching agreements, signing memoranda with government, government has been unfaithful.
“Successive governments in Nigeria have been setting aside our collective bargaining agreements. Just as it is happening to ASUU, we know it is happening to other trade unions. What should be done is to draw out government very clearly. How do they see trade union agreements? Are they just for the sake of placating labour leaders when they come up with issues the same way they deceived Nigeria with manifestoes which they set aside immediately they came to power?