By Victor Ahiuma-Young
STRIKING members of the Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the nationâ€™s universities and their Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) counterpart, have said government directives to the university governing councils to negotiate with striking workers is not only a big joke, but also a proof that government is not interested in resolving the industrial unrest in the universities.
NASU and SSANU told Vanguard Sunday on telephone, that the governing councils could only implement government directives and on this issue, agreement between the government and the unions such as NASU, SSANU and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
General-Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, wondered why government could be shifting the goal post in the middle of a match and declared that it is only a collective bargaining process which began with Gameliel Onosode-led government negotiating team could end the industrial unrest by government signing and implementing the agreement.
According to him, â€œIt is a big joke, pure nonsensical and meaningless for government to say they are directing the governing councils to negotiate with workers. The governing councils do not negotiate. They implement government directives. You do not shift the goal post in the middle of a match. A process had begun through the Gameliel Onosode-led government negotiating team. The only way forward is for government to conclude the process by signing and implementing the agreement.â€
â€œThis agreement that we are talking about took us not less than two years and like we have always pointed out, at every point, the government team would excuse itself to confer with government before they would agree on anything. Nothing was agreed without the full knowledge and directives from government. Nothing was forced on anybody.
So, we cannot understand why government is making a u-turn and has turned round and started intimidating workers and awarding pay rise. We said before and we are repeating it that no amount intimidation or threat of no work, no pay can force them to abandon the struggle to make Nigerian universities regain lost glory and once again start producing world class graduates.â€
On its part, President of SSANU, Comrade Promise Adewusi, also described the suggestion that the committee of Vice-Chancellors negotiate with the striking universities workers, as a proof unreadiness by the government to get the issue resolved.
He argued that only government as the employers could get the matter resolved through collective bargaining and not by suggesting what it (government) knows it not possible.
Comrade Adewusi thanked students, parents and concerned Nigerians for their support and said all efforts should be geared towards restoring the lost glory in the nationâ€™s university education in particular and the entire educational system.