In response to the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the federal government has threatened to revoke the union’s Certificate of Registration (CoR).
The threat followed the government’s assertion that the National Industrial Court (NIC) injunction requiring university teachers to return to the classrooms would not impact negotiations with the union.
The government has threatened to revoke the union’s CoR for failing to submit audited financial reports within the last five years, as required by law.
According to reports, the Registrar of Trade Unions has asked the union to explain why it should not have its CoR revoked for illegal activity.
Dr. Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labor and Employment, confirmed the news while hosting the board of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) on Wednesday evening.
After negotiations between the striking university faculty and their primary employer, the Federal Ministry of Education, broke down, the minister referred the matter to the NIC.
Minister of Education Adamu Adamu oversaw a number of meetings between the two sides, but they were unable to reach an agreement.
According to Ngige, university-based unions routinely fail to submit their annual audited financial statements as required by the law that established them.
Since any action taken by the government could be misconstrued, the minister said 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.
He pointed out that under the law, unions with a campus presence that rely on check-off dues from their members are required to provide an accounting of those funds.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), however, claimed that the minister’s intention to de-register ASUU as a trade union was an attempt to blackmail the university lecturers back to work.
The head of ASUU has requested an investigation into the minister’s use of the strike to undermine the government and the interests of students from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“ASUU has not responded to the relevant Section of Trade Union Creation for submission of audited accounts,” Ngige claimed. Just how do they spend their cash?
The check-off dues they collect must be properly tracked. According to the Trade Union Act, unions are required to submit audited financial statements to the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment by June 30 of each year.
The Trade Union Registrar has written them asking them to provide evidence against rescinding their certificate of registration. A reply to the letter has been ignored. Instead, I found out that last week’s audited financials were delivered in stacks of paper on Friday.
Naturally he informed them, “I didn’t ask you for your audited accounting anymore,’ and he was right. Please provide an explanation as to why you should not face disciplinary action.
Although I am currently delaying disciplinary action against ASUU, should it be taken, they will claim that it is because we are currently in court. People will blame our strike for anything that goes wrong. Something bad is happening to us. However, they’ve been breaking the law.
For the benefit of their members, at least, they have not submitted an audited report of their actions for the past five years. You are now officially part of that group. They owe it to you to detail exactly how it was spent. They have failed to do so.
Ngige said, in reference to the ASUU strike, “You went on strike. A week later, you were summoned here by the Minister of Labor, and we went over seven separate issues, eventually reaching consensus on five of them.
The two points on which we could not agree required the use of UTAS, thus we requested more testing from NITDA. In our meeting with the Sultan and NIREC, the traditional heads of state, we requested a report from NITDA within six weeks.
The sole lingering issue in the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement is their working conditions, therefore we requested them to go talk to the Education Ministry about it.
It is not true that the administration is not carrying out the terms of the 2009 Agreement. In the 2013 renegotiation, President Jonathan and his team promised you N1.3 trillion, or N220 billion every year for six years. Perhaps they sensed their departure and prepared accordingly. However, it was the compromise they reached.
It was the year 2019, and we were finally back on good terms. We’ve already told you that this government can’t fulfill your request. Where do we go from here? We arranged for a single installment of N220 billion to be paid over time.
Now that this administration took office, payments were made. They’ve reportedly paid around N50 billion. We may have asked them to compare data from the Budget Office with that of ASUU, but I can’t say for sure. When they refer to “the 2009 agreement,” the general public is being misled. It was Goodluck Jonathan’s administration’s 2009 revitalization that we couldn’t afford. The government’s inability to make payments is not necessarily a bad thing.
Let us renegotiate our debt to you or the terms of our agreement with you. There was a consensus reached. A CBA can be renegotiated at any moment. There, precisely.
Their terms of employment, including the CONUASS salary scale, needed to be renegotiated as well. They work mostly for the Ministry of Education, therefore we sent that question back to them.
The Department of Education has appointed Professor Mini Briggs to lead the renegotiation committee that was formed after inviting Council Chairmen. The ILO principle in wage fixing mechanism, which is the availability of the fund and, by extension, the ability to pay, will also serve as a guiding principle in that negotiation.
It is insufficient to merely promise N1.3 trillion and then fail to deliver. This was the reason why there was a prolonged negotiation and various offers were made. Arguments have arisen over those suggestions. Not enough consultation was done with the government before the education committee gave a proposal on what they can pay.
They failed to get the Finance Minister’s input. They didn’t check in with the Federal Budget Office. They failed to check with the Commission on National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages.
To hear Osodeke tell it, it’s all blackmail.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), dismissed yesterday the Federal Government’s threat to deregister the union over alleged infraction on the submission of the union’s financial reports of its audited account.
He claimed that the Labour and Employment Minister was trying to blackmail the university union by having the Registrar of Trade Unions withdraw ASUU’s Certificate of Registration (CoR) under the Trade Union Act.
He claims that when the reports were presented to the Labor Ministry, the Registrar there refused to accept delivery of them.
Prof. Osodeke said in a brief statement, “It is part of Ngige’s fight and attempt to blackmail the union.” The Registrar of Trade Union in the Office of the Labour Minister refused to accept our submission of our audited account through the year 2021 without providing a reason.
We paid the submission fees, but they still rejected our application. When the same paperwork was sent via express mail, the recipient never bothered to open the package and return it.
Our attorneys at Falana & Falana Chambers accompanied the paperwork. In other words, they flat-out refused to collect. All of this was an attempt to use the union as a bargaining chip.
We dare the Labor Minister to make public the date on which all Nigerian labor unions submitted their most recent audited financial statements.
“The Buhari administration should look into Ngige to find out why he is trying to undermine the government and the interests of Nigerian students by exploiting the ASUU strike,” the group said.