The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have directed their members nationwide to prepare for a widespread protest. This directive follows the breakdown of recent discussions between the Ministers of Education and Labour and the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the two unions.

In a detailed circular sent to all branch chairmen of NASU and SSANU and released to the media in Abuja on Sunday, the unions announced that the protests would start on July 9, 2024, across various state chapters, with a national protest planned for Abuja on July 18. The circular was jointly signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Prince Peters Adeyemi, and the National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed H. Ibrahim.

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According to the circular, “The National body of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU met on Thursday, 4th July 2024, to appraise and take a position on the current situation concerning the withheld four months’ salaries and other grievances of our members in University and Inter-University Centres.

“Similarly, the National JAC, upon invitation, met with the Honourable Minister of Education, the Honourable Minister of State for Education, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, and other top officials of the Ministry and the National Universities Commission (NUC). Unfortunately, the engagement with the Minister of Education did not demonstrate any convincing commitment to paying the withheld salaries or resolving other pending grievances of JAC’s two unions.

“It is also disheartening that the JAC’s visit to the Federal Ministry of Labour & Employment was met with the usual disappointment. The Honourable Minister of State was not available to meet with us, as we were informed that she had an urgent call from the villa. The Permanent Secretary, who stood in for her, could not make any commitment on the issues we raised.

“In light of this disappointment and the government’s failure to address the grievances of NASU and SSANU, JAC has decided to embark on a series of industrial actions, which include the following: All branches of NASU and SSANU are to mandatorily hold a general meeting on Monday, July 8, 2024, to inform and sensitize members about the government’s insensitivity to our plight.

A one-day protest will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, simultaneously at each branch. Every branch must ensure full participation of all members in the protest and ensure adequate media coverage. A national protest will be held in Abuja on Thursday, July 18, 2024, after which JAC will meet to announce the date for the commencement of a strike action. Further information will be communicated appropriately. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this regard.”

The unions have expressed frustration over the government’s lack of responsiveness to their demands, which include the payment of four months’ withheld salaries and the resolution of other critical issues affecting their members. They urge all members to actively participate in the planned protests to draw attention to their plight and pressure the government into taking immediate action.

The planned protests mark a significant escalation in the ongoing dispute between NASU, SSANU, and the Nigerian government. The outcome of these protests and the potential strike action that could follow will likely have a substantial impact on the nation’s educational sector. All eyes will be on the developments in the coming weeks as the unions and the government navigate this contentious issue.