By MICHAEL OCHE, Abuja |
The federal government has said that it is considering bringing all unions within the university system under one single entity.
This was disclosed by the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed at the 2nd Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) in Abuja,
According to him, the polarization of the university system, where each of the unions come up with their individual demands to the federal government was constituting bottlenecks for government to accede to their demands. Rasheed also attributed the phenomenon to why university education in Nigeria can’t match up to their peers abroad, academically.
According to him, talks were on to convince the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to invite all the various unions to a round table, to see reasons why they needed to come under one umbrella.
Among the unions expected to key into the new proposal include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
He argued that there was need for the unions to enter into negotiations with the government with one accord, rather than a segmented approach.
While appealing to the conscience of the unions, the NUC scribe said it is regrettable that most times government and individual unions lock horns negotiating for better welfare packages for the staff at the detriment of the students.
He said, “It is frustrating that the University system in Nigeria has been polarized by various unions, you have NAAT, ASUU, SSANU all negotiating for different things.
Most times, while one group is negotiating with government, others are warning up for strike unless their demands are met”.
Rasheed also disclosed that the minister of Education, Adamu Adamu has secured the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to dispatch visitation panels to all public universities in Nigeria.
He explained that the need arose following the ugly incidents that trailed the University of Lagos, when the pro-chancellor, Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council ordered the sack of the former vice chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
He said the respective panels which will soon be inaugurated are expected to tour the universities and bring back a ten year report, in two separate batches of five years each.
Also, following the resignation of Wale Babalakin as chairman of the universities renegotiation committee, the federal government has reconstituted an eight man committee to harmonise and finalise existing agreements between government and the unions.
The NUC scribe said letters of appointment would be handed to the appointees by Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
Recall that while issues of 2009 Joint Renegotiated Agreement and NEEDS Assessment programme is yet to be resolved in most of the public universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the federal government have been engaged in a battle of wits over the controversial Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System
(IPPIS), even before the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic broke out globally.