Why the Nigeria Labour Congress Is Protesting

July 26, 2022

Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are taking part in a nationwide protest starting July 26th, 2022. The NLC is Nigeria’s national umbrella body for trade unions with over four million members. This means it’s a big deal when the union takes an action like this as it could significantly disrupt socio-economic activities across the nation. 

The goal of the protest is to do the impossible — to make the Buhari government listen.

Why the Nigeria Labour Congress Is Protesting

What’s this protest about?

The NLC first announced the strike action after its National Executive Council (NEC) met on June 30th, 2022. The group then communicated its decision to state chapters in a July 15th circular. The national executives urged the chapters to mobilise members to participate in the protest.

What was the reason for the decision? The NLC was unhappy at the failure of the government to make a deal with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to put an end to a strike that has kept Nigerian students at home for five months.

ALSO READ: Why ASUU Is Back to Beating the Drums of War, Again

So this is about the ASUU strike?

Well, yes.

Why the Nigeria Labour Congress Is Protesting

An ASUU strike is old men talking for months and young Nigerians sitting at home.

In February 2022, university lecturers reignited their unending war with the Federal Government by going on strike. The strike started only as a warning, just like how the suya seller gives you a taste before you decide if you want to buy more. The Federal Government decided to buy more of ASUU’s suya. 

The two have been playing a game of Tom and Jerry since then while students have watched from the sidelines unamused.

Why the Nigeria Labour Congress Is Protesting

Here’s an unintentionally hilarious video from when the strike first started: 

The issues that caused the February 2022 strike aren’t any different from the ones that caused the 2020 strike which lasted nine months — revolving mainly around salary structure and payment, earned academic allowances, university funding, autonomy and academic freedom. 

How does the NLC strike affect anything?

The NLC strike will take place in all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The goal of the action is to force the Federal Government to conclude the ongoing negotiations with ASUU and other aggrieved trade unions in universities. The takeoff points for the protest are the Labour House in the FCT and state secretariats of the NLC.

Member unions that have expressed full backing for the strike include the Senior Staff Union of Nigeria (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU). 

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) is also participating in the strike, so you might experience some electricity issues that won’t get immediate attention.

The Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) is also participating in the protest, so there may be some disruption in the aviation industry.

Buhari doesn’t like this, does he?

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has described the protest as illegal and asked the NLC to stop it. But the union said:

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, also claimed the Department of State Services (DSS) doesn’t want the protest to hold because they fear hoodlums may hijack it. And that’s really just something the Nigerian government says about every protest these days to try and shut it down.

How long will the protest last?

NLC’s action is only a warning strike to take place for two days: July 26th and July 27th. The group will decide on what further action to take depending on how the government responds.

Why the Nigeria Labour Congress Is Protesting

ALSO READ: What Do Nigerian Students Really Do During ASUU Strikes?

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