The federal government has asked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) not to embark on a nationwide protest in solidarity with ASUU, citing a purported discovery of the State Security Services, SSS.
The labour minister Chris Ngige, made the appeal at a meeting with the NLC leadership in his office on Thursday.
Mr Ngige said this in a statement signed by his media aide Olajide Oshundun. He said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) mandated him to notify them of the security implications of the planned protest.
The protest is scheduled for July 26 and 27 to ensure university students go back to school and also in support of ASUU and tertiary institution unions in fighting for quality education.
According to the minister, a security report sent to his office by the SSS strongly warned against holding the protest and urged the NLC to reconsider holding the rally as hoodlums might take advantage of it to cause breach of security.
Mr Ngige expressed Mr Buhari’s concern that politicians might cash in on the rally to wreak havoc.
“The masses might wrongly interpret the rally as a ploy by the NLC to enhance the chances of the Labour Party presidential candidate, a situation which could spur the supporters of the other political parties into violence,” Mr Ngige claimed.
He added, “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 do not meet.”
NLC deputy president Najeem Usman, and general secretary Emmanuel Ugboajah, however, assured Mr Buhari’s regime that the protest would be peaceful.
“We commend you for championing the harmonisation of salaries of workers in the country. We don’t understand why a messenger in NNPC or the Central Bank (of Nigeria) should be earning more than a Level 8 officer in the ministry,” said Mr Ugboajah.
ASUU and other trade unions in the education sector have been on strike for more than five months over Mr Buhari regime’s failure to meet their demands.
ASUU’s demands include adequate funding of universities, salaries and earned allowances of lecturers.