Mr Ngige said the alleged lack of democracy, transparency and failure to render proper account of check-off dues by ASUU gave room for the recognition of the new unions
The Nigerian government has finalised the registration process of two recently registered academic unions in Nigerian universities- Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), and National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, presented the unions with certificates of registration and an official gazette on Tuesday.
The minister also said the government is already working on modalities to release the withheld eight-month salaries of their members.
Mr Ngige had previously announced the registration of both unions on 4th October 2022, while the dispute with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was at an industrial court.
He had said CONUA and NAMDA shall exist side by side with ASUU in Nigerian universities.
CONUA is a splinter group of ASUU that was formed at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), following a leadership crisis that rocked the institution’s chapter of ASUU during the selection process of OAU’s 12th substantive vice-chancellor in 2016.
Following irreconcilable differences, some aggrieved ASUU members, led by the current National Coordinator of CONUA, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, formed CONUA and applied for registration with the government in 2018.
“In doing this, both unions are officially recognised and have been registered to unbundle the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) as well as the National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD),” Mr Ngige told the leadership of CONUA and NAMDA on Tuesday.
He said both unions have been officially gazetted, hence entitled to all labour rights as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and International Labour Organisation(ILO) convention.
Justification for registration
Mr Ngige said the alleged lack of democracy, transparency and failure to render proper account of check-off dues by ASUU, both to her members and the government, culminated in the emergence of the new unions.
“Prior to 2020, CONUA had approached the ministry complaining of lack of democracy, transparency in the leadership of ASUU, especially in rendering proper account of their check-up dues remitted from government,” he said. “Based on these grievances the ministry decided to register the members of CONUA to operate as a full-fledged union for which we have issued a certificate of registration and gazetting which is part of section 3:2 of the ITUC.”
On withheld salaries
The minister also said that the federal government was working out modalities for payment of withheld salaries of CONUA and NAMDA members for the duration of the ASUU strike.
Mr Sunmonu had confirmed that the union received a letter from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, requesting the list of its members for payment of their withheld salaries.
The minister said it would amount to injustice if they were victimised because they never partook in the strike in the first instance.
Speaking, the CONUA National Coordinator, Mr Sunmonu, commended the minister for the presentation of the certificate, saying “now that CONUA has been given official backing through the presentation of the certificate, the era of incessant strikes in the university system was over.”
Mr Sunmonu, who claimed that the highhandedness of ASUU’s leadership was what gave birth to CONUA, also protested the continued remittance of its members’ check-off dues to ASUU.
Mr Sunmonu said: “Today is a historic day and it is exciting to be back to this great Ministry in conclusion of the final phase of the registration of CONUA, which is marked by the collection of certificates,” he said.
“We appreciate the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and his remarkable team for finalising the registration of CONUA with the issuance of the certificate of registration of the union to us today.”
“In CONUA, our primary purpose at all times has been to promote the welfare of our members, while being constantly conscious of the overriding national interest…With this complete registration, we assure Nigerians that we shall embark on meaningful and realistic discussions and negotiations with the federal government and all other stakeholders on how we can get a better deal for university lecturers.”
NAMDA President, Ali Ramat, also commended the minister and his team for the presentation of the certificate.