The Federal Government (FG) on Thursday said a committee was put in place to review the application by a factional group of Academics in the universities across Nigeria to weaken the control of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU).
Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige who disclosed in a meeting with executive members of Congress of University Academics'(CONUA) said the application for registration as a trade union would be completed in four weeks by the Committee set up for that purpose.
Dr. Chris Ngige, in the meeting with CONUA led by its National Coordinator, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, Ph.D. further said a full meeting of the top Management Committee of the Ministry would be convened to examine the report.
Ngige assured the leadership of CONUA that the top Management Committee would give fair and square treatment to the report.
According to him, “We will be fair to you. We will look at the report without fear and favour. We will look at it on its merit.”
He appreciated CONUA’s vision of engaging the Government meaningfully in a way that they could be partners in progress.
Ngige lauded the noble visions of the organisation, pointing out that they were in alignment with the Government’s visions for the nation’s university system.
The Minister enjoined them to work in synergy with other University staff in bringing the university system back to its former pride of place.
He urged the group to always toe the line of social dialogue as the preferred tool for negotiation, and eschew strike, which invariably wreaks havoc on academic studies and destroy the university calendar.
The Minister pointed out that such situations are distressing for all concerned – parents/guardians, the students, and also the nation.
Ngige described as valid the request of CONUA for government to stop the payment of the check-off dues of its members to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as union membership is voluntary.
He stated that the relevant Department in the Ministry would look into the request and make suggestions to the government on that, hinting that government would want to re-engineer the matter of check-off dues generally.
Speaking earlier, National Coordinator, CONUA, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, Ph.D., appealed to the government to register the group as an independent academic union in order to legitimize its operations within the Nigerian state.
He emphasised that they were not members of ASUU due to ideological differences and mode of operation.
Sunmonu stated that the group’s aim is to achieve a paradigm shift from the old order, while its focus includes ensuring a seamless and uninterrupted academic calendar in the university system, educating the government and the public on the need for an effective and efficient educational system in the country; among others.
According to Sunmonu, “CONUA will channel the energy of the Nigeria academia to productive drives. It is set to working together with other unions in the university and this will break the monopoly that breeds absolute power and autocracy in unionism. The aim is to offer the university system the enhanced benefits of competition and choice.”