In an attempt to break the ranks of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government has moved to present a certificate of registration to the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of the lecturers’ union. According to reports, the certificate presentation to CONUA is billed to take place on Tuesday, October 4.
Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige will do the presentation. The information was contained in an invitation to reporters on Tuesday by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Oshundun Olajide.
The invitation reads: “The Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige cordially invites you to the recognition and presentation of Certificate of Registration to the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).
“The Programme is scheduled to hold as follows:
“Date: Tuesday, 4th October 2022
“Venue: Hon. Minister Conference Room, Federal Secretariat, Phase 1, Abuja.
“Your media organisation is invited to cover the event and strictly by invitation.”
CONUA, a breakaway faction of ASUU, is led by its National Coordinator, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. Though the organisation currently enjoys marginal presence in few universities across the country, it is seen as a strategic move by the government to break the ranks of the striking lecturers and woo some of them back to the classrooms. Attempts to cajole or coerce ASUU to drop the nearly eight-month strike in the public universities, through many measures including intimidation by the government and court action, have not broken the resolve of the members.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 to press home its demands. The strike is due to the failure of the Federal Government to renegotiate the agreement it signed with ASUU in 2009 including adequate funding of the system, replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), with the UTAS, as the payment platform in the university sector, among others.
The teachers say that IPPIS has never worked in any university system anywhere, adding that the system shuts the doors against foreign scholars, contract officers and researchers needed to be poached from existing universities to stabilize new ones.
But the Federal Government insists that the payment model is for transparency and neither intended to trample upon university autonomy.
Despite a ruling by the National Industrial Court on Sept 21, 2022 ordering the university to return to work, the university lecturers have remained adamant.
Last week, ASUU through its lawyers, filed an appeal against the court ruling.