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Why university lecturers’ unions are fractured

There is apparently a deep seated problem in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) leading to emergence of splinter groups with different names from…

There is apparently a deep seated problem in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) leading to emergence of splinter groups with different names from its fold.

Already, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige has disclosed the receipt of application from the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) seeking registration as another union for university lecturers.

Unresolved disputes are said to have caused bad blood between members and the leadership of ASUU which hypothetically led to the emergence of factions.

ASUU chairman, Ibadan branch Professor Deji Omole, said most of those behind the new group were either suspended or expelled from the union. He said ASUU was united and strong.

In Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, (FUOYE), the academics are divided into four different groups, namely the neutral ASUU, the Omotola and Omonijo ASUU and the newly formed CONUA.

The convener of CONUA in FUOYE, Barr. Ige Ogunniyi Ayodeji, said the union’s grievances with ASUU were based on unresolved issues between the members and the executive committee.

Barr. Ige said the local ASUU chapter operated outside the law and that the leaders allegedly shielded their colleagues involved in illegal acts. He said CONUA was against ASUU because ASUU was politicised and that most of its leaders lobby for contracts from the university management.

Ige also alleged that ASUU lacked accountability and financial management because the FUOYE branch hasn’t presented audited financial report since 2016.

The objectives of CONUA in FUOYE, he said, are to create an alternative platform for serious-minded academics who would apply due process in advocating and protecting the welfare of their members and the university staff by promoting constructive dialogue and engagement.

He said CONUA would strive for peace and stability by avoiding unmerited strike actions.

National Investment Secretary of ASUU Dr Ben Ugheoke said “people have the right to freedom of association, but that shouldn’t be used to rubbish the name of ASUU. ASUU has no problem.”

Chairman of the new Progressives Academic Staff Union of Universities (PASUU) in the Federal University, Lokoja, (FUL) Dr Abdulhameed Salawu said the emergence of the new body was due to alleged intolerance of ASUU leadership in FUL towards members with opposing views; confrontational approach towards management, incessant disruptions of academic activities and lack of accountability, amongst others.

“We don’t want any form of disruption in our academic calendar again. We want peace and stability in our universities for several years. Our target is for 20 years.

“One of our reasons for breaking away is that you can’t ask the leadership of our former union questions; they deduct money from your salary and no one is allowed to ask questions.

“For example, recently, we heard that the national body of ASUU gave a directive that universities should deduct N5,000 from each of us that they want to give to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria,” Dr Salawu claimed.

But chairman of ASUU in FUL, Dr Joseph Folorunsho, who debunked the claims by PASUU, described the emergence of the new union as the handiwork of “the management trying to break the ranks of ASUU.”

 

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