Dr. Niyi Sunmonu

*…faults ASUU for constantly using strike as tools for negotiation of demands

*… asks FG to register CONUA as trade union immediately to break ASUU’s strength

By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA

A faction of striking Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has called for liberalisation of university academic unions to end incessant strike in the nation’s public universities.

To this end, the faction operating on the platform of Congress of University Academics, CONUA, has appealed to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, to immediately register it as a trade union to break the monopoly being currently enjoined by ASUU.

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The group, which accused ASUU of using strike as only tool to resolve its issues with the government, said such development must stop as, according to it, there were many ways of resolving issues.

National Coordinator of CONUA, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, who led executive members of the group to a press conference in Abuja on Friday, said ASUU’s consistent strike has caused more harm than good in the university academic system.

Dr Sunmonu, who said lecturers under his group have not been on strike, faulted the government for its continuous withholding of their salaries.

He appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, release the salaries of lecturers who did not participate in the ongoing strike declared by ASUU.

Recalling that the request for registration of CONUA was presented to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2018, Dr Sunmonu wondered why it has taken the ministry so long to get the union registered as a trade union.

Noting that there were many non-academic unions in the unity system, he called on the government to give such opportunity to the academics so that there could be healthy competition, thus erasing the incessant strike actions that have bedeviled academic activities in public universities.

Dr Sunmonu noted that liberalisation of academics unions in the universities would ensure cross fertilisation of ideas that would bring about healthy competition as well as protect the interest of other stakeholders.

“We need a paradigm shift from the old order in our universities and CONUA will focus on inculcating the spirit.

“We underscore the fact that what we are asking for is liberalisation. And what that will bring on the table is that before you embark on any industrial action, cross-fertilisation of ideas is needed.

“What we have noted over the years is that ideas are usually muffled and what you see is the perspective of some people.

“So when we have liberalisation, what we will eventually have is healthy competition.”

Açcording to him, since the freedom of association was enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution, there was nothing wrong in having two to four academic unions in the nation’s universities.

Noting that CONUA was christened in 2018, he bemoaned the delay in approving it as a full-fledged academic union by the federal government.

He added that in November 19, 2020, the Minister of Labour and Employment held a public meeting with CONUA delegates, where he gave the ministerial committee to conclude the review of registration of CONUA.

He said, “We are aware that the committee has since submitted its report. We have therefore been waiting to hear from the government on our registration.”

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