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Ngige playing the role of referee and player at the same time, says ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Friday, accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, of deliberately frustrating the efforts of the Union in resolving the issues it has with the Federal Government.

The union while saying that Ngige was acting as a referee and player in his bid to orchestrate his falsehood, also condemned the militarisation of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT by the management to organise 2019/2020 first semester examinations while the union is on strike.

The Nsukka Zonal Coordinator of the Union, Dr. Igbana Ajir, stated this at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, during a press briefing, adding that the Minister has chosen to make a caricature of his personality and his office in his handling of the negotiation.

The zone comprises Benue State University, Makurdi; ESUT; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Federal University, Lokoja; Federal University, Wukari; Kogi State University, Anyigba; and UNN.

The Coordinator said: “We want to intimate the general public of the deliberate frustration, and ineptitude of government officials who had been frustrating the genuine steps by the Union to forestall the total collapse of public universities.  …it is sad to also note that even when government chose to invite the Union for meetings, it has been busy with deliberate effort to keep her busy without substantial offers.

While insisting that ASUU has not called off strike, he also said “The Minister of Labour and Employment has taken it as a leisure to entertain members of the public with lies and gross demonstration of ignorance in labour best practices. He exhibits disrespect for Nigerian Academics and assumed the position of Personal Assistant to the Federal Minister of Finance, the Accountant General of the Federation and Minister of Education. He is expected to be a mediator between ASUU and the government officials, but the Minister has rather chosen a quest to grandstand and make caricature of his personality and office. He is acting as a referee and a player at the same time.

“He has openly deceived the Nigerian public that the Federal Government and the Union have reached an agreement to end the current industrial action. These are false, as the issues in question have remained unresolved. In an instance, he claimed that our members have been paid their withheld salaries when in reality all academics in Federal Universities in Nigeria have been starved and denied salaries since July 2020. These falsehood disseminated and propagated by a supposed Honourable Minister is both unfortunate and undeserving of a member of the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria.

“Recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment threatened to take the Union to court even when such  an action will violate normal collective bargaining and labour practice, the Union is prepared if such action arises. This action would undoubtedly demonstrate to the world the insincerity of this government and its deviance to democratic ethos tailored at scuffing peaceful paths to resolving the impasse in the public university system so that our students will no longer be kept at home.”

Ajir, while stating that the struggle of ASUU to revive public university system would benefit the common man,  added that most of the contentious issues, including revitalization of public universities, state university funding, Earned Academic Allowances and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, and the 2019 Memorandum of Action, MoA, have not been resolved.



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