The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, has stated that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, should not be involved in the negotiations between the Federal government and the union, as he has taken the matter to court.
During his appearance on Channels Television on Tuesday, Osodeke made this claim and added that Ngige had forfeited his role as a mediator. In reality, it was Ngige who wrote to the government requesting that the academics be paid only half their regular wages.
The ASUU president further added that the agitations of the union would be resolved in the interest of students, parents, and the country.
He said; “He (Ngige) has gone to court, which means he has lost his right as a conciliator. Once he has taken this case to the Industrial Court, he has lost that right as a conciliator; he has no say again, but he’s still interloping.
“The Minister of Labour currently plays no role in the matter, he has nothing. He’s an interloper. If we’re calling him a conciliator, it has gone beyond him.
“And we have found that it was he who actually wrote to the Minister of Finance personally, not directed, that they should stop our salary. It’s just personal. We are surprised because, having taken the case to court, by all rights, he has hands are tied. He has no business with what we do.
“But to our surprise, the Accountant General Office decided to pay what some people have referred to as half. It’s very sad because professors who are on the same salary scale got varying amounts, N200,000, N180,000, N90,000 and what have you,” he said.
The president of the ASUU confirmed that the partial payment was the first salary paid to union members since the strike began.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is, can a Minister of Labour direct the Minister of Finance on what to do? The answer is no. We are under the Ministry of Education, and we thought that anybody that can give such a directive who monitors what we do through the NUC is the Minister of Education.”
“It is the Minister of Education, who we are under, and the Speaker on whose intervention we called off the strike because of the issue we said that, one, they are going to pay us backlog of our salaries because ASUU is different from another union,” he said.