The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said the registration of two new trade unions by the government for academic staff in the university system is inconsequential and does not pose any threat to its existence.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this in a chat with Vanguard while reacting to the registration of the two new unions.
“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. That is inconsequential as far as we are concerned. We are not also in any way threatened. The sky is big enough for birds to fly.
“We know our members, we know our strength and we also know what our vision and mission are. Our members are not saboteurs or bootlickers . Our struggle is for a better educational system in the country. If the system is good, all of us will benefit and it is not only ASUU members’ children and wards that are going to benefit from improved funding and the provision of better facilities in our institutions,” he said.
Osodeke, who also reacted to the allegation by the Presidency that ASUU members are complicit in the corrupt practices in the university system, described such as unfounded.
“As a union, we have been championing transparency and accountability in the university system. That is why we are calling for the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, as the payment platform in the university system. Those indicted for misappropriating over N100 billion through their IPPIS, are they our members?
“Moreover, one of our demands is that Visitation Panels be set up to probe the activities and the finances of universities in the country. If we don’t want corruption stamped out, we would not be asking for that, ” he explained.
CONUA’ s reaction to registration
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, described the registration as monumental and historic.
“The registration of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), as a trade union in the Nigerian university system, is monumentally historic. The hurdles we have faced to get here, since 2018 when we submitted our application for registration, have been seemingly insurmountable. The registration is therefore the validation of the power of the human will. It asserts the value of courage, initiative, focus, tenacity, patience, forbearance and persistent positive thinking.
“We are immensely grateful to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, and his team of diligent staff for insisting on merit, due process and thoroughness all through the processing of our application for the registration of CONUA. The very strict and dispassionate review of our application brought out the best in the membership of the union.
“We regard the registration of CONUA as a sacred trust, and pledge to reciprocate by devoting ourselves unceasingly to the advancement of university education in this country. We would make the details of our programmes available to the public in due course. For now, we are giving the assurance that we would work to ensure that the nation is not traumatised again by academic union dislocations in the country’s public universities.
“We are also deeply grateful to the numerous personalities and well-wishers whose good counsel and concrete actions have facilitated the success we have witnessed today. We believe in the saying that to whom much is given, much is expected. We would therefore constantly strive to make them all proud of CONUA.
“We appreciate the entire membership of the union for believing in the righteousness of the CONUA cause and for believing in the leadership of the union, and thereby remaining statutorily steadfast, even when disconcerting and demoralising situations arose.
“In this journey, the invaluable role of the media cannot be discounted. We are truly grateful to the media, and look forward to further mutually beneficial interactions as we strive for the development of this nation.
“Above all, we are absolutely grateful to Almighty God for granting us this grace.
Edo NAPPS Distances Self From Viral Video Insulting Obaseki, Calls For Probe
The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Edo State chapter, has disclaimed and distanced itself from a viral video wherein the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki was insulted and lampooned.
This followed a video circulating online wherein NAPPS in Edo State was called upon to reject all PDP candidates linked to Governor Godwin Obaseki.
In the video already trending online, they (NAPPS) alleged that Obaseki is deliberately destroying their business after giving him all the support during the 2020 governorship election.
They further accused the state Governor of introducing damaging taxes and fees on on them
But a statement signed by Reuben Ekhosuehi, Chairman NAPPS Edo State, said: “We have observed with total dismay the attitude of some faceless group of people trying to drag the name of State Chairman, Hon. Ekhosuehi Reuben Ikponmwen and the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Edo State in a muddy water.
“We want to state categorically that we disassociate ourselves from the trendy video and audio messages castigating our amiable Governor, His Excellency, Mr Godwin Enogheghase Obaseki, and the Hon. Commissioner for Education, Dr Joan Osa Oviawe.”
Comrade Ikponmwen explained: “We will never do anything to bring down the reputation of our state Governor, and the State Ministry of Education.As law abiding citizens, we are aware of the right avenue of negotiating with the government on any issue pertaining to the welfare of our union and that of the development of Education in the state and not to embark on cheap blackmail.
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“We hereby urge the State to use all possible means to investigate the source of this publication in order to bring the culprits to book.It should be noted that the chairman of NAPPS, Edo State Chapter is a card carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is also aspiring for a political position in the state in the fourth coming election.
“He will not be so naive to champion a course that is asking for Edo people not to vote for any PDP candidate in the 2023 elections. We see this publication as political motivated to tannish the image of our able Chairman and to put our association at a logger Head with the state government.
“We implore the government to take this issue serious in order to get to the root of this matter as the author refused to sign any of the publications.
“Our Association as a registered body will not work under unanimous. We are responsible and established to assist the government in rendering educational services to our people and not to condemn and fight the government. We remain loyal and committed to the government of the state,” he stressed.
BREAKING: ASUU Receives Full Salaries For November, Arrears Withheld
Lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have received full salaries for the month of November 2022.
It was also gathered that the eight month arrears remained withheld by the Federal Government.
A senior member of the union at the Bayero University Kano made this known in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Wednesday.
“Some of our members have started receiving salaries and I can confirm to you that we received our full salaries for the month of November. However, the arrears are still withheld.”
The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government refused to pay the striking lecturers for the eight months which the union embarked on strike.
The lecturers, in October 2022 were also paid pro-rata (half-pay) according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Lecturers across the country have been protesting against this decision by the Federal Government.
The National Executive Council of the union is expected to hold a crucial meeting in the coming days over the withheld salaries.
ASUU: Fresh Protests Rock Universities As FG Remains Adamant
Fresh revelations have indicated that there is no end in sight to resolving the intractable dispute between members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government.
That the Federal Government’s hard stance on “no work, no pay policy” could fuel another round of crisis in the education sector.
Recall that ASUU had called off its eight-month-old strike in October following an intervention by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila had brokered peace between the Federal government and ASUU after all negotiations had failed.
Within a few days of his mediation, Gbajabiamila negotiated an acceptable agreement between the duo, with a promise that the government would pay the university workers their withheld salaries for the months they were on strike.
However, early in November, the members of the Union were bewildered following the payment of half salaries for only 18 working days in the month of October to its members by the Federal Government.
Speaking on why ASUU members were paid half salaries for the month of October, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in a statement issued by his ministry, said the lecturers were paid in pro-rata for the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action.
Recall that the Federal government had insisted on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy for the period the university workers were away from their duty posts.
However, nearly two months after the academic staff members returned to work, they have continued to lament the unyielding response of the government to their withheld salaries.
Not relenting on their struggle, ASUU mandated its branches to hold a one-day nationwide protest over the payment of half salaries to lecturers by the Federal Government in October, with ASUU members at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), University of Ibadan (UI), amongst others, protesting.
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ibadan Zone, which comprises the University of Ibadan (UI), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso and the University of Ilorin, protested on Monday against what they described as the victimisation of their members by the federal government and its agents.
Speaking with journalists during the protest, the Chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan, Professor Ayoola Akinwole, lamented that despite reaching an agreement with the Speaker, which led to the suspension of the strike, none of the items on the said agreement had been implemented.
He said, “The agreement with the Speaker included the following: The government is going to sign the new salary package, payment of the withheld salaries from March to October 2022
“Payment of the withheld third-party deductions, including Check-off dues from March to October 2022, non-victimisation of ASUU members who took part in the strike.
“Today’s protest has become necessary due to our conviction that the federal government is on a mission to destroy the public universities through inadequate funding and through its war against ASUU.”
He maintained that ASUU has had a historical responsibility to protect the public universities from collapse and fight for its members and the interest of Nigerian students.
Speaking to the DAILY POST on the same issue, the ASUU-UNN branch chairman, Comrade Christian Opata lamented that the government has not been serious about the issue of education.
He said, “The issue is that the government is not being serious about the issue of education in Nigeria, because, one, they pleaded with us to honour the court, knowing that ASUU is a very patriotic and legal organisation; we are law-abiding citizens.
“Yes, we know that there is a subsisting court order, but if we wanted to disobey that court order, we had every right to disobey it because it is a question of our rights.
“The same government that is saying obey the court order, there are many court orders which they have not obeyed. And what is even the bone of contention is something that is legal- an agreement that was signed – and you reneged on it. You reneged on an agreement, and somebody you signed an agreement with is telling you to implement the agreement, and you turn around to punish the person saying the person is obdurate. Well, I don’t know where to situate that.
“So the disappointment even starts from the point of view that the government reneged on an agreement it signed willingly.”
On how the Union members have been coping given the government’s stance, Opata disclosed that many of his colleagues have not let the issue affect their productivity at workplace.
“The issue is that many of them have been teaching, and I am even surprised that many of them are teaching happily. I thought that some of them would be grudging and even victimising students. But even to my knowledge, it has not happened within my university community. The students have been going to classes and having their exams. Some have even finished their exams.
“Tomorrow they shall continue because most of our members did not go for exams today because of this issue of our rally; we held a protest today. So that does not mean that we are on strike; they did it because it is part of the meeting being held.
“The issue is that, for now, they are teaching, our members are teaching. They are attending to students and their projects, even the postgraduate students (Masters and Ph.d),” he said.
On whether the Union will embark on another strike if the government failed to pay them the withheld salaries, he said, “No individual chairperson can decide that because it is only when we meet and we have a decision on that; no branch chairperson can speak on behalf of NEC.”
As it stands, amidst starvation and hunger, members of the Union have vowed not to let down the gauntlet in their lingering fight with the Federal government until their demands are met.
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