The Federal Government has appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress to cancel its planned protest over the prolonged strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other university-based unions.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made the appeal on Thursday at a meeting with the leadership of NLC in his office.
Also in attendance at the meeting were the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Ms. Kachollom Daju.
Ngige, in his speech, updated the labour leaders of efforts so far made by the Federal Government to resolve the impasse in the university system.
The NLC had on July 17 announced that it would stage a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to pressure the Federal Government to resolve the five-month-long strike by ASUU and other university-based unions.
ASUU embarked on the industrial action on February 14, over what the union described as the failure of the government to address some of its demands.
In a press statement signed by the Head of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the minister reminded the NLC leadership that he incorporated them into the tripartite conciliation going on in his ministry, and being aware of efforts of the government to resolve the impasse, they cannot embark on any rally or protest.
He further told the labour leaders that the Federal Executive Council mandated him to notify them of the serious security implications of the planned protest.
According to him, a security report also sent to his office by the Department of State Services, strongly warned against holding the protest.
He urged the NLC to reconsider the planned rally as hoodlums might take advantage of it to cause breach of security.
Ngige expressed the concern of the Government that politicians might cash in on the rally to wreak havoc in the country.
He said, “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.
“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 don’t meet.
“I heard when you said you are mobilising for Labour Party. But, a trade union is not a political party. Look at the Trade Union Act. It does not allow trade unions to use their contributions to support any political party.”