The Federal Government of Nigeria may consider the option of proscribing the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) if the union fails to call off the prolonged strike after an offer was made to it, Vanguard reported, citing multiple sources in the Presidency and the Ministry of Education.
N100 billion has also been approved by the Federal Government for the university sector as part of the understanding in the re-negotiation of the 2009 Agreement.
Recall that on February 14, ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike to protest the non-implementation of its demands by the federal government.
On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands.
On May 9, a 12-week extension was announced.
The union has vowed to persist until its demands are met. ASUU has been on strike with another 4-week extension anounced on August 1.
The union is seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.
One main issue for the union is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion, an agreement that was struck in 2009.
The Federal Government on its part said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount and that it will not borrow to meet ASUU’s demands.
Another bone of contention is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), to which ASUU proposed an alternative, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
“Because of the priority President Muhammadu Buhari has paid to education, he has approved additional N100 billion for the universities and about N57 billion for the Polytechnics and Colleges of Education,”one of the sources told Vanguard.
“This is part of the understanding with the unions on the re-negotiation of the 2009 Agreement. The government has also approved 35 per cent increase in salary for professors and 23.5 per cent increase for other lecturers. Government also approved N50 billion for earned allowances for the striking unions.
“It will be unpatrotic on the side of ASUU not to reciprocate the government gesture and call off the strike for our children to go back to school. The government is not also unmindful of the cooperation of SSANU and NASU for being patriotic.
“It is part of the labour laws that the unions, especially ASUU, should apply cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended and conciliation is ongoing.
“From available information, the Minister of Labour and Employment apprehended the strike on February 22, 2022, and subsequently held conciliation meeting on that day with ASUU and on March 1, whereas, the disputes with SSANU and NASU were apprehended on May 3 by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“Why should ASUU say that the Federal Government has done nothing? You should also recall that the President co-opted his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and the Secretary to the government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, to join in the negotiation to end the strike. Why is ASUU recalcitrant and daring everybody?”
Expressing disappointment that ASUU had allegedly not appreciated the government efforts, the sources said the federal government had many options before it, which include prescribing the union.
“The government has so many options if ASUU refuses to be patriotic. One of the options is the proscription of ASUU which is contained in the Trade Unions Act and even in the Trade Disputes Act.
“The President can proscribe an association whose action is inimical and constitute economic sabotage to a country. In the Trade Unions Act, the President can withdraw the certificate of any organization whose conduct is not in tandem with the terms for their registration.
“Also, Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act permits the Minister of Labour to approach the National Industrial Court. CAP 78, laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004, to refer the matter to the National Industrial Court for adjudication to enforce the legality or otherwise of the ongoing prolonged strike by ASUU and to interpret in entirety the provision of Section 18 of the Trade Dispute Act as it applies to cessation of strike once a trade dispute is apprehended by the Minister of Labour and Employment and conciliation is ongoing.”
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.