NLC PLANNED PROTEST IN SUPPORT OF STRIKING WORKERS IN UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES OF EDUCATION IS LEGAL AND A DEMOCRATIC RIGHT
*SPN Supports the Striking Workers and Calls on the Government to meet their Demands without Further Delay*
*NLC and TUC should come together for sustained mass actions, including a 2-day general strike, until all demands are met*
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns and rejects the recent claim by the Federal Government, FG, that the planned nationwide protest scheduled for 26th and 27th of July, 2022 by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with the striking workers in public universities and colleges of education is illegal. Rather, we hold that it is the pronouncement of the FG, through Mr Lai Muhammed, the minister for information and culture, which is not only illegal but also irresponsible. This is because it is an attack on the democratic right to holding a peaceful protest which the irresponsible Buhari government has made necessary by keeping students at home for more than five months.
Again the NLC, being an umbrella body of trade unions which include Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU, Seniors Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, currently on strikes for months, has the historical responsibility of organising a solidarity action to strengthen the agitations of its affiliates in struggle regardless of whether or not is directly having pending issue with the government.
It is in line with this working class solidarity that the SPN, being a pro-working people’s political party, reiterates its support to the various, ongoing strike action of the staff unions in universities as well as College of Education Academic Staff Unions (COEASU). We believe that the demands by these striking trade unions are genuine and in the best interest of public education.
The SPN strongly advocates adequate funding of education that is linked to human development and gives every Nigerian the opportunity to acquire the fullest human development towards the advancement of the productive forces.
However, it must be stated that this is possible only when the mainstay of the economy and big industries are publicly owned and democratically run and controlled by the working class people. This is in order to guarantee the generation of adequate resources and their judicious use for the benefits of the vast majority. Unfortunately, the Buhari-led government and other sections of the capitalist ruling elite are incapable of adopting this kind of socio-economic arrangement that guarantees free and quality education for all because of their self-serving, parochial looting and profit first interest as well as the lack of objective to industrialize the economy and make it more productive.
The uneven and combined development, as well as the looting of public funds, have made it possible for the ruling elite to be insulated from the poor education system as their children get quality education at a more expensive rate in Nigeria and abroad. Hence, the ruling elite are not bothered even if our schools are closed down for 2 years as a result of legitimate strike actions or the education system is embarrassingly poor as it is in the current situation.
Therefore, the SPN welcomes the planned mass protest called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in solidarity with the striking unions scheduled to take place across the 36 states on July 26 and in the federal capital territory, FCT, on July 27 2022. We strongly feel that this solidarity action is long overdue, and hence we call on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to take this solidarity action with seriousness in terms of mobilization and commitment. The NLC leadership should not organize this action with levity just like it did with some other past actions without adequate and proper mobilisation. Neither should the planned actions be unjustifiably called off at the eleventh hour.
The January 2022 botched action against the planned removal of fuel subsidy emboldened the government and oil marketers to increase fuel price from N165 to between N175 and N220 depending on the location. In the same way the strike action called off in September 2020 emboldened the government and electricity companies to increase electricity tariffs 3 times within a year with commitment for 6month periodic increment.
Also importantly, we call on the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to join the solidarity action in order to provide a stronger class solidarity in support of the striking workers and students. It is important to note that it is a consistent struggle that can force the government to meet the demands of education workers and grant concession for more funding to public education.
Therefore, SPN calls on the NLC and TUC to come together for more sustained solidarity mass action including a 48 hour general strike as the next stage as a means of mobilising the Nigerian working people and youth not only in support of students and the striking workers, but also against all anti-poor policies. These include but not limited to hike in the price of petroleum products, increment in tax, inflation, hike in electricity tariff, underfunding of education and healthcare, casualization and contract staffing, jumbo salaries and perks for top political office holders, fraudulent contract system etc. This is the only way the trade union movement can adequately checkmate government and private sector attacks as well as defend the interest of workers and the masses.
We call on all pro-labour and pro-students organisations to give active solidarity to this ongoing strike as well as the planned mass protest taking place on July 26 and 27, 2022.
Beyond this is the need to note that the continued stay in power by the self-serving capitalist ruling elite is antithetical to the interest of the working masses and the poor. By the logic of the iniquitous capitalist system especially in a neo-colonial economy with backward ruling elite, ordinary Nigerians will always be subjected to all manners of socio-economic and political attacks. Hence, there is an urgent need for trade unions, pro-masses’ organisations, and working people to build a pan Nigerian mass working people’s political party which can build a revolutionary mass movement to usher in a socialist change. This is in order to ultimately put the working class people in power and bring about real democracy wherein society will be planned and organized to meet the needs of all.
Acting National Chairperson