Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, on Tuesday, knocked the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over the Federal Government’s decision to register rival groups, the Congress of University Academics, and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics as trade unions.
The PUNCH reports that Ngige presented certificates of registration to CONUA and NAMDA in Abuja.
The minister said the two trade unions would exist side-by-side with ASUU.
CONUA is led by its National Coordinator, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
The presentation of the certificate came amidst the lingering strike by ASUU which had led to a closure of federal and state universities in the country.
Ngige said the two unions were entitled to all rights and privileges existing in the university.
He said, “CONUA applied for registration in 2018 and cited irreconcilable differences as it does not believe in recurring strikes as the solution to every welfare agitation.
“It also accused the ASUU executive of non-rendition of accounts of incomes and expenditure for years.
“The Ministry of Labour and Employment set up a committee to look into the merit of their application. The committee saw merit in the application and recommended approval for the registration of the association by the Registrar of Trade Unions in 2020. But for the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recurring ASUU Strike, this would have been done.
“NAMDA, like their colleagues in CONUA, had applied for registration as medical teachers in the university system under various groups.”
ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, in an interview with The PUNCH, described the development as a “plan by the Minister of Labour.”
“For us, it (the registration) is inconsequential, let them go ahead and open the universities. Ngige is just like a child. That is our response. We have nothing to say to them,” Osodeke added.
The PUNCH reports that the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, in an earlier interview with Nigerian journalists had noted that the Federal Government delayed in registering CONUA so as not to be seen as causing division among the university lecturers.
Meanwhile, CONUA has described the registration as ‘monumentally historic,’ while recalling the hurdles faced since 2018 when CONUA applied for registration.
In a statement after the registration, he described the development as a validation of the power of the human will.
The statement read in part, “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 will 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.”
The President, NAMDA, Nosa Orhue, urged ASUU to call off its ongoing strike, noting that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had pledged to resolve all outstanding issues.
Orhue noted, “With this registration, a platform has been created for medical trainers and teachers to search the process of gradual reversal to the known normal medical training environment that was punctured in early 2000.
“Medicine and Dentistry are very sensitive and require uninterrupted house training. It requires time and sufficient exposure which when lost is difficult to recover without an extension of training duration. It comes at a cost to students, parents and the nation at large.”
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