An association called Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has broken away from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and applied to the ministry of laboiur and employment for registration.
The national coordinator of the new union, Dr. Niyi Ismaheel, said at the end of a three-day stakeholders’ meeting held in Ile Ife, Osun State at the weekend said the lecturers decided to form the new association in order to redefine unionism and restore peace and stability in the universities.
At the meeting were members from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU); Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE); Federal University, Lokoja; Kwara State University, Malete, Ilorin and Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State.
He announced that CONUA “is putting necessary documentation in place for official recognition by the university management and the government.”
He urged the academia in other universities to join the union in its effort to redefine and reposition academic unionism to foster quality education.
The coordinator further said the union could no longer afford to things the old ways and expect different results, stressing that the time was ripe to unite, develop alternative ideas, and brainstorm with the other stakeholders to ensure stability in the university system and return the country’s old glory in the sector.
“For standard of education to be very high, we need a stable academic calendar, we need to be able to predict academic session, we need to have innovations which is difficult without continuity, we also need to be at tune with modern realities, 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 with let the world know and will quickly knock them, provide alternatives constructive criticism and take them to task where they are not doing well and provide for them how to do 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,” he said.
Reacting to the development, spokesman for the union, Dr. Nwoke Ernest, said the new union was plotting to rival ASUU but to redefine academic unionism in Nigeria.
“We want to be able to proffer solutions to issues even before it pops up, there is no point sending our children to countries…because you can predict when your child get to the university and graduate. We are, in essence, coming together to start something new, which is an interaction with the educational system which is not confrontational buy a synergy of all stakeholders.
“We need to think of students’ welfare, the educational system in Nigeria and the development of the country itself because many countries developed because of the achievement of its ivory towers and without a stable academic system, it is impossible to achieve such a feat,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister of labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige confirmed the existence of the new teachers’ association.
The minister said in an interview with NAN that he had in April received the application from CONUA to be registered as a new union in the university.
He said the application was awaiting deliberation as stipulated by trade union laws.
According to him, a committee will be set up to define modalities before it will be approved.
“They have not been registered yet. Their application is in the ministry. It has not been treated.
“We are still looking at their application. I asked a committee to look into it, when we look at the committee’s report, we will know what to do.
“They submitted it even before I left office initially, they submitted the application in April,” he said.
On whether CONUA would not duplicate the functions of ASUU, Ngige said that would be the duty of a committee set up on the matter to reveal.