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*Says it was not consulted by ASUU over action

By Joseph Erunke, Abuja

A faction of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, operating under the aegis of Congress of Nigerian University Academics, CONUA, has denounced the ongoing strike by the nation’s public university lecturers.

CONUA,which broke away from ASUU,has asked to be counted out of the ongoing strike, insisting that it was not part of the action that has grounded public varsities for almost six months now.

The ASUU’s factional body,in a statement, by its National Coordinator, Niyi Sunmonu, and the National Publicity Secretary, Ernest Nwoke, said it was a separate union of university academics in the country.

It condemned the ongoing strike by ASUU, saying the action which it noted,had grounded public universities in the country,was in bad faith.

Açcording to the union, strikes by ASUU always have adverse effects on the the universities,hence its position.

The statement read in part:“The Congress of University Academics would like to seize this opportunity to announce its independence as a union of academic staff in Nigeria’s public universities. Being a separate and independent union, CONUA has never been part of the decision to embark on the industrial action which has paralysed academic activities in our universities for five months now.”

“Our strongly-held view is that strikes wreak great havoc on the university system, and the concessions that are earned after every strike, over the decades, have amounted to pyrrhic victories when weighed against the systematic destruction of the local and global image of university education in Nigeria. Our preferred alternatives to strikes in resolving industrial disputes, therefore, include constructive engagement and constant dialogue with all stakeholders.”

“As CONUA, we are of the strong belief that strikes should never be a strategy of first recourse. Their deployment should be contemplated only when all other options have failed, and they should not appear to be motivated by a desire to cause maximum damage.”

CONUA explained that its members have been in classes in universities such as Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma since the strike declared by ASUU.

“In fact, before the incident, which caused the students to be asked to vacate the campus, most of our members had concluded their lectures. Since it wasn’t our members who declared a strike, lumping us together with those who are on strike is therefore patently unfair,” it said.

In spite of its position, CONUA bemoaned the conditions of service of Nigerian academics just as it discredited the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, the federal government’s payment platform, describing the system as inconsistent.

It said,“Furthermore, CONUA notes, regrettably, that the condition of service of academics in Nigeria is very poor. It is, in fact, pitiable. Research has, in this regard, shown that Nigerian academics are among the worst remunerated when compared to their counterparts on the African continent.

“We continue to believe in the urgency of such an action, and would continue to work towards the well-deserved improvement in the condition of service.

“CONUA, however, believes that these are issues that can be sorted out through dispassionate, well-meaning collective efforts, and is ready to offer the professional expertise of its members to the government to solve the problems.

“Finally, CONUA calls on the government to expeditiously register the union in order to provide a more robust platform for academics with alternative, pragmatic and more sustainable views to operate and engage with the government.”

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