Federal Govt takes step to withdraw ASUU Certificate of Registration – Nexus News

A threat by the Federal Government to take back the Certificate of Registration (CoR) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) unleashed a new twist to the dispute between the two bodies yesterday.

The new development came roughly a day after the government said the National Industrial Court (NIC) injunction directing varsity teachers back to the classrooms would not affect negotiations with the union.

The government threatened to take back the union’s CoR because of its purported failure to submit the financial reports of its audited account as directed by law in the last five years.

It was gathered that the government, through the Registrar of Trade Unions, has sent a query to the union on why its CoR should not be withdrawn for going against the law.

Labor and Employment Minister Dr. Chris Ngige acknowledged the development while hosting the leadership of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) at work on Wednesday night.

The minister had referred the matter to the NIC, following a breakdown of negotiations between the striking varsity teachers and the Federal Ministry of Education; their main employer.

Despite a series of meetings presided by Education Minister Adamu Adamu, both parties refused to reach an agreement.

Ngige stated that the university based – unions were fond of not obeying the law that set them up, with regard to the submission of their yearly audited account.

The minister stated that he has asked the Registrar of the Trade Unions not to allow the hammer of the law to descend on ASUU because of the prolonged strike as any action taken by the government would be wrongly interpreted.

He said that going by the provisions of the law, the leadership of the university based unions that collect check-off dues from their members were directed to submit an account on how the money was spent.

But ASUU President Prof Emmanuel Osodeke portrayed the planned move to de-register ASUU as a trade union as an attempt by the minister to blackmail the university lecturers back to work.

The ASUU boss implored President Muhammadu Buhari administration to probe the minister on how he has used the ASUU strike to undermine the government and the interest of students.

Ngige reported: “ASUU has not responded to the relevant Section of Trade Union Creation for submission of audited accounts. How do they use their money?

“The money they collect as check-off dues, should be accounted for. So, the Trade Union Act says that in June of any given year, unions should produce audited accounts at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment.

“The Registrar of Trade Unions has written to them to show why we should not withdraw their certificate of registration. They have not responded to the letter. Rather, I learned that they came last Friday with bundles of papers and said they are the audited accounts.

Read Also: IGP Condemns Assault On Police Woman, Orders Justice  

“Of course, he rightly told them that ‘I didn’t ask you for your audited accounts anymore. I need you to respond to my query on why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.

“If disciplinary action is taken against ASUU now, although I am restraining it, they will say that it is because we are in court. They will say that we are being victimized because we are on strike. We are being punished. Whereas, they have been running foul of the law.

“Five good years, they have not tendered an audited account of their activities, at least, for the benefit of their members. For now, you are their members. They should give you an account of how they spent your money. They have not done so.”

Speaking of the ASUU strike, Ngige said: “You went on strike. The Minister of Labor brought you here one week after and we discussed seven items one after the other and agreed on five of the items.

“The two items we couldn’t reach agreement on are the usage of UTAS; we asked NITDA to go back and test. We met with the traditional rulers, Sultan and NIREC and asked NITDA to give us a report in six weeks.

“We asked them to go to the Education Ministry to negotiate their conditions of service, which is the only thing outstanding in the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement.

“When you say the government is not implementing the 2009 Agreement, it is not true. It was in the renegotiation of 2009 in 2013 that President Jonathan and his team agreed to pay N1.3 trillion – N220b every year for six years. Maybe because they knew they were going away. But that was what they agreed on.

“By 2019, we had reconciled here again. But, we said this government is unable to meet your demand. What do we do? We structured a payment plan for one single tranche of N220 billion.

“This government started paying. They have paid N50 billion or so. I am not sure, but we asked them to go and reconcile the figures from the Budget Office and ASUU. When they say the 2009 agreement, the public is deceived. It is the 2009 revitalisation of the government of Goodluck Jonathan we couldn’t pay. It is not wrong for the government to say it is unable to pay.

Read Also: World leaders promise billions to tackle AIDS, TB, and malaria 

“Let us restructure our debt or our promise to you. It was an agreement. A Collective Bargaining Agreement can be renegotiated anytime. That is where we are.

“Another thing to be renegotiated was their conditions of service, to include salaries scale, which is the CONUASS. We referred that one back to the Education Ministry, their primary employer.

The ministry (Education) requested for the presence of Chairmen of Councils, with Prof. Mini Briggs to take over the renegotiation committee. What also will guide that negotiation is the availability of the fund and by extension, the ability to pay, which is the ILO principle in wage fixing mechanism.

“It is not enough to say I will give you N1.3 trillion and not pay it. That is why the negotiation went on and different proposals were made. Those proposals are now the subject of contention. When the committee on education gave them a proposal on what they can pay, they did not do enough consultation with the government.

“They did not consult the Minister of Finance. They did not consult the Budget Office of the Federation. They did not consult the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.”

President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, yesterday debunked the threat by the Federal Government to unregister the union over reported infraction on the submission of the unions’ financial reports of its audited account.

He portrayed the planned withdrawal of ASUU’s Certificate of Registration (CoR) with the invocation of the Trade Union Act by the Registrar of Trade Unions as a scheme by the Labor and Employment Minister to blackmail the varsity union.

According to him, the Registrar refused to take delivery of the reports when they were submitted to the Labor ministry.

In a brief statement, Prof Osodeke said: “It is part of Ngige’s fight and attempt to blackmail the union. We submitted our audited account up to 2021 to the Registrar of Trade Union in the Labor Minister’s Office but they refused to accept the submission without any reason.

“We even paid the fees for submission they refused to accept. The same documents were sent through speed post, they returned the package without even checking the content.

“Our legal counsel Falana and Falana Chambers also went there with the documents. They refused to collect. They did all these just to try to blackmail the union.

“We challenge the Labor minister to publish when all the Labor unions in Nigeria submitted their last audited account.

“The Buhari government needs to investigate Ngige to know why he is using the ASUU strike to undermine the government and the interest of Nigerian students.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *