By Miftaudeen Raji
Foremost Nigerian constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN has explained why the newly-registered academic unions – Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) – by the Minister of Labour and Employment are illegal.
Falana, who gave a legal perspective on the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU-Federal Government fallout in an interview on Arise TV’s Newsday on Wednesday, also x-rayed the implications that come with the new unions.
He said, “Under the current Labour Law regime in Nigeria, you cannot have two unions or three unions in the same sector.
“In other words, within the academia in Nigeria, there can only be one registered trade union that is the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) registered pursuant to the Trade Union Act as amended.
“We are going to have to have a mushrooming of trade unions, which threatens industrial peace in the country. We cannot have two unions in the university nor can we have two unions in other unions in the country. Politically it wont work,” he said.
Falana described the registration as illegal and a desperate measure by the government to break the strike.
He said, “Government has tried various measures but the latest one is perhaps going to embarrass the government because it is an illegal exercise and won’t work. ASUU is today one of the most organised and united trade unions in Africa.
Falana said the registration of splinter unions will result in proliferation of academic unions, adding that the economy will suffer for it.
He advised the government to return to the drawing table and ensure that proper advice is sought in order not to expose the country to ridicule.
Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige on Tuesday, approved the registration of CONUA and NAMDA and ordered the unions to return to classrooms.
According to Ngige, CONUA and NAMDA broke away from ASUU and declared their rejection of the Union’s modus-operandi.