Ngige accuses ASUU of bullying and intimidation, says suspension of strike depends on union

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has accused the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of intimidation and bullying.

Ngige accused the labour union of threatening to withdraw the certificate of the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and revoke the professorship of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, calling him a fake professor.

This was made known by Ngige when he appeared as a guest on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today, on Thursday, where he described such actions as against labour negotiations.

Ngige, who was a former governor of Anambra state said that he believes that the calling off of the strike depends on ASUU and urged them to come down from their high horse as well as to be considerate.

What the Minister of Labour and Employment is saying

Ngige who asked ASUU to stop threatening government officials and agencies, maintained that he cannot make a commitment on when the dispute will be resolved, calling on lecturers to do their part.

He said, “It depends on ASUU. The ball is in their court. They should go and meet the Benimi Briggs Committee and look at what the committee is doing and make further inputs so that the work can be accelerated.

“ASUU has to come down from their high horse. You cannot go and start intimidating people in NITDA and threatening the Minister of Digital Economy and Communication with revocation of his professorship that he is a fake professor. You go to ABU and say you are going to withdraw the certificate of the director of NITDA. That’s bullying. It is not allowed in the labour negotiations.’’

He said he is worried by the incessant strikes in public universities in Nigeria, stressing that “he has not slept” in a bid to see that the schools are reopened.

While recalling on the lecturers’ union incessant industrial actions in the last 2 decades, the former federal lawmaker said, ‘’The ASUU issue is a recurring decimal. It is a very sad situation. I am a product of the public school.’’

The minister noted that there would be a meeting of all stakeholders next week as part of moves to resolve the lingering strike.

What you should know

ASUU, had on February 14, embarked on a 4-week total and comprehensive strike to press home their unresolved demands on the federal government.
Some of the lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances, adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and payment of promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, and the resolution of inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The union on March 14, extended the industrial action by another 2 months, hinging it on the lack of seriousness on the part of the federal government to address the issues.
ASUU had in February, faulted the promotion of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, to a professor, describing the action as illegal.
Also, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Branch, had about 3 weeks ago, threatened to withdraw the degree certificate of the Director-General, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, as an alumnus of the university, following his criticism of UTAS.
Inuwa said that UTAS had failed integrity test, vulnerability test (security integrity), User Acceptance Test and stress load test, as well as the hardware requirements.
In a related development, the ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, had faulted the federal government’s budgetary allocation for the payment of fuel subsidy and wondered why it is difficult settling the lecturers, alleging their insensitivity to the union’s demands.
He accused government of the inability to raise N200 billion to revamp all Nigerian universities and bring them to world standard, but can raise N4 trillion for fuel subsidy.

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