FG to Register Fresh Union for University Lecturers

chris ngige NSITF

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may no longer be the only major union for lecturers in Nigeria as the federal government has commenced the process of registering a rival group.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, said in Abuja on Thursday that the government was permitted under the law to embark on such.

For almost 10 months, members of ASUU have refused to return to classes because of the issues they have with the central government, especially on funding the education sector and the appropriate platform for the payment of their salaries.

Yesterday, some lecturers opposed to ASUU under the aegis of Congress of University Academics (CONUA) were at the Minister’s office, who commended them for supporting the government.

During the visit led by the National Coordinator of CONUA, Mr Niyi Sunmonu, the Minister noted that the decision of ASUU to stay away from work has negatively affected the sector, especially the students, who are already getting frustrated for staying at home for long.

Mr Ngige said he has asked the necessary agencies to work on the registration of the new association, noting that he should get an update next month.

“We are receiving you in audience formally today in this ministry. We have the right to receive associations of persons that are workers, whether we have registered them or not, just as you have the right to apply for registration which is the lawful thing to do.

“We have the right to receive and hold meetings with you. The journey to have you registered has just started.

“You have done the right thing by applying and this ministry has also done the right thing by processing your registration.

“The review of your application for registration is ongoing. I have put up a committee to look into that review. I will ask the committee to wind up its work.

“We are giving them four weeks from today to turn in their report to the ministry.

“Part of our job here is to register unions; it is also part of our job to make sure that unions that are not functional are helped,” the Minister informed the rival group.

In his remarks, Mr Sunmonu assured the Minister CONUA always constructively engage the government if finally registered, noting that the group was determined to have a seamless and uninterrupted academic calendar in the university system.

“The government cannot see what we see and we will not see what the government sees, but when we have our mind made up in a constructive manner, we will come to a reasonable agreement to further progress our universities and for the advancement of the nation,” he said.

He stressed that “ASUU no longer represents our interest and aspirations. CONUA fits to be described as a group of people who are independent academics and who have decided to come together to form a union committed to the advancement of education in Nigeria,” adding that “CONUA members are not members of ASUU and we are not ready to be part of ASUU due to irreconcilable differences and modes of operation.”

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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