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Led by OAU lecturer, ‘not anti-government’… what to know about ASUU’s rival union

  On Tuesday, the federal government recognised the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of the Academic S...

 


On Tuesday, the federal government recognised the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), as an academic union.

 

Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment, presented the certificate of registration to the union in Abuja.

 

Ngige also presented a certificate of registration to the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

 

The development has continued to stir heated reactions from stakeholders in the education sector.

 

WHAT IS CONUA ALL ABOUT?

 

CONUA was formed in October 2019 as a breakaway faction of ASUU. The faction was said to have parted ways with ASUU over disagreement on some issues.

 

At the time, the union was formed by lecturers from five varsities.

 

They include lecturers from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma; Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE); Federal University, Lokoja (FUL) and Kwara State University (KWASU), Molete.

 

CONUA is led by ‘Niyi Sunmonu, a lecturer at OAU.

 

‘WE’RE NOT ANTI-GOVERNMENT’

 

At its stakeholders’ forum in 2019, CONUA announced that the union “is not anti-government”.

 

Sunmonu, its national coordinator, had said the union was established to restore stability to Nigerian universities.

 

He also said members of the union would adopt “constructive criticism” and “alternative ways of solving problems”.

 

“For the standard of education to be very high, we need a stable academic calendar. We need to be able to predict the academic session, have innovations that are difficult without continuity, and be attuned to modern realities,” he had said.

 

“Our union would approach the matter of engagement with all stakeholders in an engaging manner to have a common ground for moving forward.

 

 “Our union is not anti-government, if government and by extension, administrators of universities are doing well, we will let the world know and we will quickly knock them, provide alternative constructive criticism and take them to task where they are not doing well.

 

“We will not wait for them to make mistakes before we intervene. We have vision and will provide ahead what can be done to have better results. If that is done we are sure we will have a better way to move forward.

 

 “Members believe we should have alternative ways of solving problems. Members have been contributing very well to the finance of the union. When we fulfill and do all that we need to do, financial constraints will be forgotten.

 

“We have been at this for over three years in Ife. We have been waxing stronger and members from other universities have been experiencing what we experience here; hence the decision to come together to form a national union.”

 

WHAT NEXT FOR ASUU?

 

Many believe the registration of CONUA was to shrink the influence of ASUU amid its lingering strike.

 

ASUU embarked on strike over the demand for increased funding for public universities, and a review of lecturers’ salaries and allowances, among other issues.

 

The strike, which has lasted for over seven months, has continued to elicit concerns, with students and stakeholders urging the government to address the issue.

 

Speaking on CONUA’s formation, Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU president, said the union is unperturbed by the government’s action.

 

Osodeke also said the union was not aware of any recognised faction.

 

The ASUU president accused Ngige of “continuously creating more chaos in the resolution process”.

 

“ASUU, therefore, makes bold to say that the minister of labour and employment has taken upon himself the role of unabashed protagonist in our ongoing dispute with the government of Nigeria for some inexplicable reasons,” NAN quoted him as saying.

 

On September 21, the national industrial court ordered ASUU to call off its nationwide strike.

 

But the union has filed an appeal seeking a stay of execution of the judgment.

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