ASUU strike: Confusion, uncertainty as FG issues license to CONUA, NAMDA
Hope of the quick resolution of the labour dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, deemed on Tuesday as the former went ahead to register parallel unions in the academic community.
It is, however, uncertain how the government’s action could lead to the re-opening of the public universities.
The move, which is seen as an effort to break the ranks of ASUU, came after a National Industrial Court had also earlier ordered ASUU to return to work, a judgement ASUU has appealed.
The FG had last week issued a circular directing Vice Chancellors to re-open the universities. However, it was understood that following interventions from stakeholders, including the leadership of the House of Representatives, the order was withdrawn.
The crisis appears to have now reached a climax with the registration of the two new bodies.
The unions are the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics, NAMDA, and the Congress of Nigerian University Academics, CONUA.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, stated that the two unions will function alongside ASUU.
The ASUU had earlier fallen out with Ngige, who they said was not committed to seeking ways to end the prolonged strike.
Observers see the latest development as Ngige’s way to cut his own pound of flesh.
His action came the same day President Muhammadu Buhari was locked in a meeting with the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and some leaders of the House, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, over the eight months industrial action.
Gbajabiamila had sought to mediate between the FG and the ASUU, following which he met with the union and other relevant government agencies for their contributions.
But with the Labour Ministry’s action, there are pointers that the gains made during the meeting between the ASUU and the Reps leadership may also be lost.
Already ASUU has dismissed the new bodies, declaring that they do not pose any threat to its existence.
The National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, while reacting to the development, said, “That does not in any way affect us. We are a disciplined and focused union and we know what we are doing and what we are after. Let them register as many unions as they like. The sky is big enough for birds to fly”.
He further declared that ASUU members are not saboteurs or bootlickers, adding that its members know their vision and mission.
Also speaking on the development, a senior lecturer in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who spoke under anonymity, said the Federal Government was wasting its time.
He noted that “if the Federal Government could not succeed in breaking the ranks of the Nigeria Labour Congress, how on earth does it think it will succeed this time?
“We heard the so-called new union has a factional presence in 12 universities; assuming without conceding that such is true, how would you compare that with the ASUU structure?
“What is clear is that the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige is deceiving President Muhammadu Buhari. He has not been sincere ever since the strike commenced and his action today (yesterday) has clearly shown that.
“We welcome his group, it is not enough to issue them with a license, let them go and lecture the students.”
He called on the Federal Government to descend from its Olympian height and embrace a mutual deliberation with the university lecturers.
In the meantime, the industrial action is now gradually taking over a full academic session, with students expressing frustrations across the country.
While many of them have died while engaging in one menial job or the other, a number of them are still in a state of confusion.