Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has described registration of two new university academic staff unions by the federal government as a dangerous initiative.
The government has also begun the process of de-registering the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a solution to the lingering strike action by the union since February 14.
Some have claimed that registration of the new unions was an attempt to weaken the powers of ASUU, which had been at loggerheads with the government.
The newly registered unions are the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Lecturers in Academics (NAMDA).
Speaking on the issue on Arise TV, Jega, a former ASUU chairman and ex-Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, said the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had turned the issue into a personal quarrel between him and the academic staff union.
He said, “I want to say this here because I have the opportunity: the minister of labour is not helping matters. He has turned this into a personal quarrel between him and the minister of education on one hand, and between himself and the Academic Staff Union (of Universities) on the other.
“And while many people are trying to find a way of addressing this situation so that students can go back to school and ASUU can go back to work, he (Ngige) is busy creating challenges. He now took the matter to the industrial court.”
Jega also cautioned that creating more unions alongside ASUU would create more problems than solve the existing ones.
“The industrial court also has appealed, and now he has registered two unions. And he’s trying to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
“If this is allowed by this government, I think this is a recipe for disaster, and it may really create more problems than it can solve on this matter of strike in the universities,” he said.
Jega further said that those advising President Muhammadu Buhari concerning the ASUU issue are not doing their job well.
He said, “I think that those who are advising the president are not advising him well. Because a president of a country has to rely on advisers, either his ministers or other advisers. On this particular matter, I think the president is not being advised well.”