By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
INDICATIONS emerged on Tuesday that the Federal government has referred an application from a splinter group of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, seeking registration to stand as a separate union to a committee to look into.
Recall that the rival ASUU group with the name, Congress of University Academics, CONUA, recently called on the Federal Government to, without further delay, register and recognize it as an academic staff union in the university system in Nigeria.
CONUA claimed that it has met all conditions required for it to be so registered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Vanguard reliably gathered that CONUA submitted a request to be registered as a separate academic staff union in the university to the Ministry of Labour and Employment through the Office of the Registrar of Trade Unions about four years ago.
A source at the Ministry of Education that spoke on condition of anonymity hinted to Vanguard that the rival academic staff union had since submitted the application to the government to be recognized as a separate body.
According to the source, “We are aware that a group of university lecturers has applied to be registered as an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress. It has been about three or four years they applied for the registration. The application was referred to a committee that looks at it based on constitutional provisions. The committee is expected to brief the Minister of Labour that has the responsibility to carry out such assignment.”
Also recall that the National Coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, had in a chat with Vanguard recently claimed that there was no condition yet to be fulfilled by the union for it to be registered. . .
He was quoted to have said, “Some days ago, the Minister of State for Labour, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, said publicly that CONUA has met all requirements for it to be registered as a trade union, but we don’t know what is still delaying that.
‘’There is always the need to look at issues from more than one perspective. Moreover, we operate in an academic environment. Look at it this way, when the GSM revolution started in the country, the pioneers said per second billing was impossible but another operator came and started per second billing, every other operator joined and the society has become better for it. We all know that there is freedom of association in the country as enshrined in the constitution.
“In the university, when someone is defending his final project, he faces an audience who would look at his work in different perspectives. That is intended to make things better. We don’t want to believe that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is behind this reluctance on the part of the government.”
Sunmonu had in the report debunked insinuations that the government wanted to use his group to destabilize ASUU.
He said: “We were members of ASUU before some issues came up in 2016 at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, and when justice was not done and majority of members felt it was a deviation from what a union should stand for, CONUA eventually came up in 2018.”