By Peter Duru, Makurdi 

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Tuesday said it is stepping into the dispute between striking university unions and the Federal Government because of the insensitivity of the government to the plight of the ordinary Nigerians whose children populate the public universities in the country. 

Labour urged the Federal Government to immediately pay the withheld salaries of members of ASUU, accept the proposed payment system by the union and settle all other issues raised by the unions to end the dispute. 

Chiarman of the Benue State Council of NLC, Comrade Godwin Anya who spoke while addressing Governor Samuel Ortom at the main entrance of Benue Government House at the end of the solidarity march by Labour in support of striking unions of Nigerian Universities, urged the Federal Government to live up to its responsibilities to Nigerians. 

Reading a letter from the National President of the union, Comrade Anya said we are “demanding the immediate payment of withheld salaries of members of ASUU, acceptance of the proposed payment system by ASUU, as well as the settlement of all other issues raised by the union so that our children can return to school.” 

Comrade Anya who had led the march by workers around the major streets of Makurdi with some bearing placards and banners some of which read “Our children must go back to school”, Education is a right and not a privilege,” “Government must respect agreements it entered with ASUU”, among others, assured that labour would not rest until victory was achieved. 

Receiving the protesting workers, Governor Ortom who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Tony Ijohor, urged the Federal Government to honour the agreement it voluntarily entered with ASUU for the union to call off its strike. 

He described as unacceptable, the inability of the Federal Government to resolve its issues with ASUU, resulting in students staying at home for more than five months. 

The Governor said the Benue State Government was in full support of the sympathy protest by the NLC as well as other actions it intended to embark upon and promised to take their grievances to appropriate quarters. 

Governor Ortom also called on the Federal Government to revisit its “no work no pay” policy to armtwist ASUU into submission, saying the honourable thing to do was for the Government to address all the issues raised by the union. 

The Governor disclosed that his administration would sit with the Joint Action Committee of NASU AND SSANU of the Benue State University within the shortest possible time with a view to negotiating and solving their issues.

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