ASUU Reacts to Registration of Two Tertiary Education Unions

The Federal Government’s registration of two new tertiary education unions has prompted a response from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU’s National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, told reporters that the incident had no bearing on the organisation as a whole.

“That does not in any way affect us,” he said. “We are a disciplined and focused union, and we know what we are doing and what we are after. Let them register as many unions as they like. That is inconsequential as far as we are concerned. We are not also in any way threatened. The sky is big enough for birds to fly.

“We know our members, we know our strength, and we also know what our vision and mission are. Our members are not saboteurs or bootlickers. Our struggle is for a better educational system in the country. If the system is good, all of us will benefit, and it is not only ASUU members’ children and wards that will benefit from improved funding and better facilities in our institutions.”

The National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) and the Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) were both registered by the federal government earlier on Tuesday.

Niyi Sunmonu is the president of CONUA, and a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. The union is for professors working in all of the country’s universities. They will coexist with ASUU, according to Chris Ngige, minister of labour and productivity.

The two groups will have access to the same rights and benefits offered to other academic unions in the tertiary education system, he added.

It is unclear what effect the bodies being recognised will have on the seven-month-long strike that ASUU has started.

Because the government had not properly complied with its demands, the union said in August that it would extend its industrial action “completely and indefinitely.”

The union seeks improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy, among other demands.

The non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which total roughly N1.1 trillion, is one point of discontent among academics.

However, the Federal Government has asserted that it lacks the resources to make such a payment, citing the low oil prices experienced during President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch.

Prof. Osodeke has noted that the government’s registration of two new trade unions for academic staff within the university system, according to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), is unimportant and does not constitute a threat to the organisation’s continued existence.

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