The lecturers were joined by other labour union activists including the leadership of the Joint Action Front (JAF).
Lecturers at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday protested what they described as the “casualisation” of academics in the country by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The lecturers were joined by other labour union activists including the leadership of the Joint Action Front (JAF), a coalition of labour movements in the country, and a civil society organisation- Education Rights Campaign (ERC).
A good number of students also joined the protest, even as they expressed regret that the government does not value education and the future of Nigerian students.
The protest took place after a special congress called by the university’s chapter of ASUU to appraise the poor welfare condition of its members, and particularly the withholding of the workers’ eight-month salary and the payment of October salary on a pro-rata basis.
The union said the rally was staged to “draw the attention of Nigerians to Ngige’s and Government’s attempt at the casualisation of the academics in Nigeria.”
Chris Ngige, a medical doctor, is Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Productivity, who had accused the lecturers union of frustrating negotiations.
But ASUU has consistently accused Mr Ngige of deliberately misinforming the public, and causing more harm than good for the country.
From the Julius Berger Auditorium at the university, to the main entrance gate of the campus, the students and lecturers chorused songs in solidarity.
In his remarks, the ASUU UNILAG Chairman, Dele Ashiru said: “This rally is to draw the government’s attention to the insensitivity and intention to stoke another round of crisis in the Nigerian university system.
“It is sad to note that the government has deployed all kinds of weapons including that of humiliation, hunger, harassment, blackmail and also using the instrumentality of the judiciary to coerce our members back to work.
“Our union suspended the strike to pave the way for the government to substantially address our demands.
‘We looked at all the issues in totality and came to the conclusion that students and their lecturers are partners in the business of knowledge production and consequently we will not allow government to disrupt the calendar again.
“So rather than go on strike, we have decided to organise this rally to draw the government’s attention and all stakeholders in Nigeria to the fact that the government is stoking another crisis within the Nigeria university system”.
The Secretary of JAF, Abiodun Aremu; ERC’s National Coordinator, Hassan Soweto, and former Chairmen of ASUU on the campus, Karo Ogbinaka and Laja Odukoya, all condemned the government’s “oppressive” tactics against the lecturers.
Mr Aremu said but for ASUU tertiary education in Nigeria would have been privatised, saying the private sector has taken over the basic, middle and high education in Nigeria.
They all called on Nigeria to insist on adequate funding of education in the country, while also condemning the high cost of governance.
SOURCE: PREMIUM TIME