Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU has said that the lecturers from the Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State; Kwara State University, Malete; Ambrose Ali University Expoma, Edo State; Federal University, Oye-Ekiti and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife who unveiled the new union, were been used by some vice-chancellors who are encouraging rebellion against the union.
ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, speaking on the report that the Ministry of labour and Employment, had confirmed the receipt of an application for the registration of a new University Union, Congress of University Academics (CONUA), to be formed out of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said, “I don’t know that group that they are talking about. What happened at OAU was that there were some people we sanctioned two years back; those people that acted contrary to the letters and spirit of our constitution. We sanctioned them and they decided to kick against the sanctions.
“Some of them agreed to serve the punishment and they have since rejoined the union. But those who do not want to serve the terms of punishment are now saying they will join forces with some individuals who have issues with the union.
“As far as we know, that is what they have been trying to do and we have been on that for about two years now. What I know is that whether in Ife, Oye Ekiti or Lokoja, we know that some vice-chancellors are encouraging rebellion against the union. Particularly in Oye Ekiti and Lokoja, we have issues with their VCs because of the way they are running their universities.
“ASUU has had reasons to complain publicly about the high-handedness of the VCs. Those VCs expectedly will want to take it out on the union and encourage that kind of rebellious attitude.”
Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of labour and Employment on Sunday, said that the ministry had in April received the application from CONUA to be registered as a new union in the university.
He said that the application was awaiting deliberation as stipulated by Trade Union laws.
According to him, a committee will be set up to define modalities before it will be approved.
“They have not been registered yet. Their application is in the ministry. It has not been treated.
“We are still looking at their application. I asked a committee to look into it, when we look at the committee’s report, we will know what to do.
“They submitted it even before I left office initially, they submitted the application in April,” he said.
On whether CONUA would not duplicate the functions of ASUU, Ngige said that would be the duty of a committee set up on the matter to reveal.
The Federal Ministry of Education’s Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr Ben Goong, also speaking said they have no hand in the formation or running of any parallel union under the ministry.
He said, “That matter about a new union has not come to the ministry yet. But the fundamental principle is that the ministry does not have any hand and will not have any hand in the formation and running of any union.
“On the issue of whether we will recognise it; everyone has a right to form a union. The recognition by the ministry is immaterial. But like I said, this is coming to us for the first time. When it comes to us officially, the ministry will look at that administratively and deal with it.”
The National Coordinator of CONUA, Mr Niyi Ismaheel, said on Sunday in Abuja that CONUA had a sole purpose of redefining unionism and restore peace and stability in the universities in Nigeria.
Recalled that Ismaheel, while addressing journalists at the end of its first National Stakeholders’ Forum at the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU Ile-Ife, said the union was formed with the goal to formulate a new approach of engagement in addressing the welfare of its members.
According to him, the union will help put to an end unnecessary delays in the academic calendar of Nigerian students, following frequent strikes.
“The Union, which started in OAU now has Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Federal University, Lokoja and Kwara State University, Molete as members.
“The union is putting necessary documentations in place for official recognition by the university management and the government,” he said.