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Buhari Regime Directs New University Unions To Start Teaching Immediately Amid 7-Month-Old Strike By Lecturers, ASUU

Buhari Regime Directs New University Unions To Start Teaching Immediately Amid 7-Month-Old Strike By Lecturers, ASUU
October 5, 2022

The lecturers’ union has been on strike since then, grounding academic activities in public universities.

In a final push to end the nearly eight-month lecturers’ strike and reduce the influence of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Nigerian government has ordered two newly registered academic unions to commence lectures immediately.

SaharaReporters earlier reported that President Muhammadu Buhari's government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment registered the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), to break the ranks of ASUU which has been on strike since February 14.

The lecturers’ union has been on strike since then, grounding academic activities in public universities.

Speaking during the registration, labour and employment minister, Dr Chris Ngige said the two unions were registered after due consideration following a series of letters written to the ministry by the lecturers who made up the two new unions.

He said the lecturers had in the letters complained about ASUU’s maltreatment and further declared their interest to break away from their parent union, Tribune reports.

SaharaReporters also reported that Ngige said that the Trade Union Act empowers him to regroup existing labour and pensioners’ unions, adding the new unions will co-exist with their mother union, ASUU.

He recalled that he had carried out a similar action when he regrouped the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) into three unions for the purpose of industrial harmony.

He added that the registration of the new unions is an action taken to ensure that no union will cripple Nigerian university education. He insisted that ASUU’s actions are not in favour of progressive tertiary education in the country.

“Trade Unions Act CAP. T14, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 gives the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment powers to regroup an existing Trade Union of Workers or Employees.

“In the view of the above, I Senator Chris Ngige, in the exercise of the powers conferred on me as the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, do hereby approve the registration of CONUA and NAMDA,” the minister said.

The minister further said that the unions now have equal rights with ASUU and will be invited to all events and negotiations involving university lecturers. He added that there are now three voices (unions) in Nigerian tertiary education and that ASUU will no longer be the only voice that speaks for Nigerian lecturers.

“These associations will exist side by side with ASUU in the Nigerian universities in the spirit and tenets of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) core convention. They are accordingly entitled to all rights and privileges accruing to such academic association/ organisation including but not limited to receiving check-off dues of their members,” Ngige said.

He, however, maintained that the Nigerian Government would still go on to negotiate with ASUU and resolve the lingering issues that led to the seven-month-old strike.

To the newly registered unions, Ngige asked them to resume academic activities in the universities without further delay.

He went on to warn the unions not to interfere in government business in the running of the universities.

In his response, the president of NAMDA, Dr Nosa Lance Orhue, said the registration has given medical and dental academicians in the university and other tertiary institutions, where the training of medical students and postgraduate doctors takes place, a legal voice.

According to him, such a voice is required in the determination of the training requirements, management of the training system, and the welfare of its members. He appealed to the Nigerian Government and ASUU to quickly resolve the issues that led to the ongoing strike in the universities.

Meanwhile, ASUU has described as frivolous the registration of the two new academic staff unions in universities, saying it is of no consequence to the ongoing industrial action by the union.

ASUU president, Professor Abuja Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune in reaction to the presentation of registration certificates to CONUA and NAMDA by Ngige.

He said, “As far as we are concerned, it is not worth responding to. They should go and reopen universities then. I don’t know why the minister is so desperate. He has tried all possible ways, he went to court and failed; he goes here and there and failed.

“Now it is registration of unions; they should register hundreds. Our members know what the union is fighting for, not for saboteurs, people who just want to work with the government. It’s so sad. There is nothing to respond to. They should go and raise membership; government wants to use them to fight the university system.

“Even a child will see through what Ngige is doing. These people have been there. When people have problems with universities, corruption and all these things, they quickly raise those groups. That is what they have been doing all along, this has no consequence on our strike.”