FG cuts ASUU’s wings, with 2 newly registered academic unions


From Left: Ngige and Osodeke.

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A deeper look at a major activity of Ministry of Labour and Employment Tuesday, regarding the registration of two new academic unions within the university community in Nigeria, has further shown that the wings and rank of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may have been finally checkmated.

The Federal Government on Tuesday broke the ranks of the ASUU when it registered two unions in the university system, namely, the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) and the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).

CONUA is a union for lecturers across the nation’s universities and it is led by a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Niyi Sunmonu. The group was established in 2018 at OAU.

Some mainstream newspapers in the country (excluding The DEFENDER) had published reports – albeit rumour – believed and reacted to by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and some other labour associations, that purportedly painted a picture of government planning to de-register ASUU and replace it with CONUA.

But the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, explained that the two bodies will exist alongside ASUU, laying all rumours about de-registration to rest.

He further stated that the two associations will enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to other academic unions in the tertiary education system.

It is not clear what the implication of recognising the bodies will be on the seven month-long industrial action embarked upon by ASUU.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14.

In August, the union declared a “total and indefinite” extension of its industrial action, noting that the government has failed to satisfactorily meets its demands.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

What the ministry did Tuesday with birthing of NAMDA and CONUA appears more as going to be able to curb the monopoly of academic calendar disruption that ASUU had enjoyed over the years, many who commented on it have said, adding that it pays parents, students and the country the more.

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