By Ekaette Ibuot
Despite the ongoing industrial action by the Nigerian Universities by members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal government has opted for the process of registering a rival union comprising of University lecturers.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this in Abuja when the leadership of Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a faction of the ASUU led by its National Coordinator, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, paid him a courtesy visit.
Commending the university lecturers for initiating the process to register the union, the minister lamented the negative impact the ongoing strike by ASUU has had on the educational development of the country.
He revealed that he had earlier constituted a committee to review CONUA application for registration, he said the Committee has been given four weeks to submit their report to the ministry.
“We are receiving you in audience formally today in this ministry. We have the right to receive associations of persons that are workers, weather we have registered them or not, just as you have the right to apply for registration who is the lawful thing to do.
“We have the right to receive and hold meetings with you. They journey to have you registered have 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 now. I have put up a committee to look into that review. I would ask that Committee to wind up their work and we are giving them four week from today to turn in their report within four weeks from today to the ministry.
Part of our jobs here is to register unions and part of our job is to also to make sure that unions that are not functional anymore can be helped.” Said Ngige
Earlier, the National Coordinator CONUA Dr. Sunmonu said that association has rapid growth of membership from various Universities across the country since it’s establishment in February 2018.
He explained that CONUA was established due to irreconcilable differences between its members and ASUU.
“CONUA members are not members of ASUU and we are not ready to be part of ASUU because of ill irreconcilable differences and modes of operation and because ASUU no longer represent our interest and aspirations rather CONUA fits to be described as group of people who are independent academics and who have decided to come together to form a union for our teaming members and solely for the purpose of advancement of education in Nigeria.” He said
Sunmonu further condemned in strong terms the prolonged strike in the university system noting that unions should choose to engage the government constructively rather than down tools every time considering the negative effect it has on the educational system of the country.
Accordingly, he noted that when CONUA is finally registered, constructive engage with the government would be their watch word
He said “the government cannot see what we see and we will not see what the government see 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.
“We want to ensure seamless and uninterrupted academic calendar in the university system.
“This strike has done more damage than good. As academics and researchers, we are supposed to have evaluated the effect of the strike on our institutions and especially on our collective psychic.
“From the preliminary report that we have, the strike has done more harm than good to our universities. Nigerian Universities should rank comfortably with any other university in any part of the world.” Said Sunmonu
On the issue of IPPIS, he revealed that most of its members have indicated interest to register in the platform but due to series of threats they are unable to register.
He however, appealed to the Minister to provide a conducive environment for its members to undergo the registration process without any confrontation.
“There are some of our members who are interested in registering under IPPIS but they are being threatened.”