From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo

Market women and youth organisations in Taraba State on Tuesday joined the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a solidarity protest with the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) over its ongoing strike.

Mrs Agnes Panya, aka Mama Kifi, and Mrs Ashetu Kaura, who spoke to our correspondent during the protest in Jalingo said they have decided to join the protest to protect the academic future of their children.

According to them, ensuring that their children acquire higher education was the only hope for survival when old age finally exit them from the market since most of them have long ago lost their husbands.

“We believe that our children would have reasonable jobs to take care of us and build our families if they acquire higher education when the old age finally exit us from the market.

“Some of us have many years ago lost our husbands but the hope that is keeping us is our children who are in the university.

“We believe that they will grow and serve as children and husbands if they acquire higher education but if the universities are not open for them to go back to school then, our hope would be lost.

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“70 per cent of bandits and criminals in Nigeria are non-educated youth, we are afraid that these children may result to join criminal groups due to idleness if the institutions remain closed,” the market women expressed.

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Mr Toochukwu Michael, the president of the Catholic Youth Organisation of Nigeria at St Justina’s Pastoral Centre, Jalingo, told our correspondent that though he was not a student, he had to close his shop like most other young people to join the NLC in protesting against the too long strike action and government’s lack of seriousness.

“Most of my members are students. Some of them are supposed to have graduated by now but they have been made to stay at home for almost half a year now. This is wickedness. That is why I have mobilised my members to join the NLC in this solidarity protest to register our grievances and urge the federal government to do the right thing expediently” he said.

The NLC state Chairman Mr Peter Jediel told Representatives of the Taraba state governor at the government house that the NLC in solidarity with other unions in the state was acting based on national directives of the NLC.

Jediel blamed the senior civil servants in Nigeria like the permanent Secretaries who were not telling politicians the truth due to their personal pocket which according to him has dragged the academic status in Nigeria to the present situation.

He appealed to the state government to speed up moves to ensure that the Federal government end the ASSU strike within one week.

Meanwhile, Taraba State Commissioner for Special Duty and Humanitarian Affairs, Taninga Binga, responding on behalf of Governor Darius Ishaku, promised that the state government would collaborate with other states in the country since it was a nationwide matter to ensure that the striking lecturers resume academic activities.