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Strike: FG registers another union to checkmate ASUU

The federal government has officially registered two new academic unions in the Nigerian Universities as trade unions. Those familiar with the matter said the new…

The federal government has officially registered two new academic unions in the Nigerian Universities as trade unions.

Those familiar with the matter said the new move was in a bid to weaken the powers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which had been at loggerheads with the federal government.

The newly registered unions are the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of ASUU and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Lecturers in Academics (NAMDA).

Speaking to journalists while formally presenting the Certificate of Registration to the two unions in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, maintained that the move was in line with the law of the land in the face of the crisis rocking the universities.

Ngige stated that the two associations will exist side by side with ASUU in Nigerian universities in the spirit and tenets of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Convention nos. 87 & 98, which are respectively on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise, and the right to organise and collective bargaining; as well as the enthronement.

Ngige said, “The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in the discharge of her mandate in the management of employment relationships and the administration of trade unions to ensure harmonious industrial relations system in the nation has decided to approve the registration of two more trade unions in the Nigerian university academic sub-sector.

“The university sub-sector is a major development plank of any nation’s socio-economic growth. Knowledge they say is power.

“In the last eight months, the classrooms in the nation’s public universities have been shut and students kept at home by the strike action embarked upon by the ASUU and this ugly situation has persisted despite a series of engagements to resolve the trade dispute by the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Education.

“In line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP TS, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, this strike was apprehended and conciliations were done in this ministry on February 22, 2022, and March 1, 2022.

“However, all efforts at conciliation failed, resulting in the transmission of the trade dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) for adjudication in line with the statutory trade dispute resolution processes.

“At the NICN, an interlocutory injunction order was obtained asking the Union to get back to work while the substantive suit is being heard; an order ASUU leadership and members refused to obey.

“Interestingly, a lot of university teachers in the public universities had indicated their willingness to get back to work while negotiations continue,” Ngige said.

 

Unions complicit in corruption in ivory towers, says Buhari

Earlier yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari said corruption in the education sector was undermining the federal government’s investments, adding that the lecturers in ivory towers were complicit in the menace of corruption in the tertiary education sector in the country.

Buhari spoke during the 4th edition of the annual National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, jointly organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said, “Incessant strikes, especially by unions in the tertiary education, often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.”

The president also listed other activities by the lecturers including the deployment of disguised terminologies to perpetuate corruption in the ivory towers, a development he said, impinged the fight against the menace in the education sector.

“Government and stakeholders in the educational sector are concerned about the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector. I am aware that students in our universities, for example, use different terminologies to describe different forms of corruption they experience on our campuses.

“There is sorting or cash for marks/grades, sex for marks, sex for grade alterations, examination malpractice, and so on.

“Sexual harassment has assumed an alarming proportion. Other forms of corruption include pay-roll padding or ghost workers, lecturers taking up full-time appointments in more than one academic institution, including private institutions, lecturers writing seminar papers, projects and dissertations for students for a fee, and admission racketeering, to mention only the most glaring corrupt practices,” he said.

Continuing, he said, “Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.”

The president further called on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate their institutions’ bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure.

He also implored the unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.

 

CONUA has no members, exists only in OAU, Lecturers mock govt

But in a swift reaction, the President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in an interview with Daily Trust, said the newly registered unions have no members, accusing the government of propaganda to sway Nigerians in order to fall for its gimmicks.

The union leader explained that the government was doing everything because ASUU members had refused to beg when salaries payment stopped.

Osodeke said, “Let them go and look for members, they don’t have any members. What Ngige is doing is that they are just fighting a hopeless battle. We were negotiating, you went to tell lies to the president, it didn’t work, now, you want to register other unions. Do they have any effect?”

On the allegations by President Buhari that ASUU is corrupt,  Prof.  Osodeke said it was Buhari’s opinion.

He said, “Buhari never said ASUU is corrupt. He only said ASUU is complicit in the system, he didn’t say ASUU is corrupt. He might mean that ASUU refused to fight them, which is not correct.

“It is his opinion, if you listened to Jega’s lecture where he said the government is extremely corrupt. It is his opinion, we won’t respond to him.”

In the same vein, a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Malam Kabiru Danladi, said that CONUA does not exist in any university in the northern region and South East.

According to him, the breakaway faction was formed in 2016 because of the face-off some lecturers had with the immediate past President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi.

A Professor at the University of Abuja, Ben Ugwoke said Dr Ngige was simply embarrassing himself and the Buhari government by his frequent flagrant disobedience to the laws of the land.

“His contemplation of conferment of recognition on CONUA, which scope of operation is subsumed in the mandate of ASUU is illegal and portrays the federal government as a lawless cabal,” he said. Prof. Ugwoke said Ngige was legally barred from taking any untoward action against ASUU right now until the matter he took to the National Industrial Court against the union was fully resolved.

“Government split the NLC into two thinking it will whittle the powers of the labour movement. Fast forward to 2022, has the government achieved its objective?” he asked.

 

We’re investigating excesses in education sector – ICPC

On his part, ICPC boss, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said the ICPC had constituted a special team for investigation and prosecution of sexual harassment in secondary and tertiary institutions in response to the recent epidemic of sexual harassment in the education sector.

He said: “ICPC has escalated its prevention mandate in the face of costly, time consuming and unpredictable outcomes of investigation and prosecution. In this regard, we are strengthening the Anti-corruption and Transparency Monitoring Unit (ACTU) in MDAs. For the education sector, we collaborated with other institutions including the Nigerian Universities Commission and National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and much more recently with JAMB, our co-host for this event.

“With JAMB and Department of State Service, we conducted last year, a series of undercover operations across the country on corruption in the university admissions processes leading to the busting of syndicates and arrest of its leaders responsible for compromising Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB) and Joint Universities Preliminary Examinations Board (JUPEB).”

 

Corruption will soon kill education sector, Jega warns

In his keynote address, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, said that Nigeria was perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

According to him, the effects of corruption in the education sector undermine the national capacity to develop requisite national social capital for socioeconomic development.

He said that no nation developed without adequate and appropriate investment in education.

He said that the Nigerian education sector had suffered neglect, was chronically underfunded and engulfed in crisis, compounded by the impact of corruption both from within the education sector and the wider public sector.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu commended the leadership of JAMB for “achieving what no other agencies have achieved in the recent past”

He said Nigeria must fight corruption to be liberated, adding that differences could be made in all sectors no matter how bad it was perceived.

“Nigeria has a bad reputation for being a corrupt society. Nobody will change that except us. At a moment you see people condemning corruption and the next moment, they engage in it.  We have to fight it otherwise sincerely this nation is doom,” Adamu said.

 

Buhari to take final decision- Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said President Buhari will take a final decision on the recommendations made by the House on the ongoing ASUU strike after a meeting scheduled again for this week.

He said this yesterday while fielding questions from State House reporters after submitting the recommendations to the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The speaker, who expressed hope after the submission of the report, said the president pledged to study it and meet them again.

Asked if he thought there was any hope of success, he said, “Oh, absolutely very hopeful. We had a good engagement, very positive response. He asked us a couple of questions in some grey areas, which we clarified and he accepted the report and he wanted a couple of days to go through it.”

 

By Muideen Olaniyi, Idowu Isamotu, Chidimma C. Okeke & Balarabe Alkassim