The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reacted to the registration of two new tertiary education unions by the Federal Government.
In a chat with newsmen, National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said the action was inconsequential to ASUU as an association.
“That does not in any way affect us,” he said. “We are a disciplined and focused union and we know what we are doing and what we are after. Let them register as many unions as they like. That is inconsequential as far as we are concerned. We are not also in any way threatened. The sky is big enough for birds to fly.
“We know our members, we know our strength and we also know what our vision and mission are. Our members are not saboteurs or bootlickers . Our struggle is for a better educational system in the country. If the system is good, all of us will benefit and it is not only ASUU members’ children and wards that are going to benefit from improved funding and the provision of better facilities in our institutions.”
The Federal Government earlier on Tuesday had registered the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) and the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).
CONUA is a union for lecturers across the nation’s universities and it is led by a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Niyi Sunmonu.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, explained that the two bodies will exist alongside ASUU.
He further stated that the two associations will enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to other academic unions in the tertiary education system.
It is not clear what the implication of recognising the bodies will be on the seven month-long industrial action embarked upon by ASUU.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14.
In August, the union declared a “total and indefinite” extension of its industrial action, noting that the government has failed to satisfactorily meets its demands.
The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.
One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.
But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.