The federal government yesterday appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to rescind its opposition to the registration of two new academic unions in the Nigerian public university system.
The unions, Congress for Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the Nigeria Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) had in September, 2022 received letters of recognition by Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja.
But in a letter to the minister of labour and employment Dr Chris Ngige, the national president of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, demanded for the withdrawal of the letters issued to the unions, on the grounds that their registration contravened the laws guiding trade unionism.
According to a statement issued by the ministry’s deputy-director of information and public relations, Olajide Oshundun Ngige in his reply, dated October 12, 2022, appealed to NLC to allow the new unions to exist in the spirit of freedom of association.
He insisted that the Trade Dispute Act 2004 gives him the sole power to register new trade unions, either by registering a new union or regrouping existing ones.
The minister reiterated that the new unions were offshoots or by-products of regrouping and their applications were considered by two committees of his ministry, with the Registrar of Trade Unions participating when the first recommendation for approval was given in 2019, and again in 2022.
He explained that CONUA and NAMDA were regrouped from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), for efficiency and effectiveness in the system and more importantly, to protect these groups of university teachers whose worldview differs from the restive parent union.
Ngige said, “Comrade President, do not unnecessarily oppose the registration of these new academic unions because with ASUU, they are all like seeds on the academic soil of Nigeria and which will grow into big trees we don’t know, but the one which her trees are not bearing good fruits, we already know. So, as an uncle of the unions, oppose none in the spirit of freedom of association”.