Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), blasted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Thursday for his stance on the university lecturers’ strike.
“What the Minister of Labour has done is a complete insult to the character of people like Professor Nimi Briggs, Senator Chris Adighije, Professor Olu Obafemi,” Professor Osodeke, said during an appearance on Sunrise Daily.
“The minister instead of looking for how to resolve the problem is busy abusing his colleagues, abusing even the Minister of Education.”
The ASUU President’s comments mark the latest development in the impasse between the Federal Government and the union over its strike which has kept university students at home since February 14.
In the months since the strike commenced, efforts to resolve it including protests by students have yielded no results with the Minister of Labour and Employment and the union engaging in a war of words every now and then.
Both sides are now accusing each other of misinformation.
On Wednesday, Dr Ngige put out a statement saying that there is no collective bargaining agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU.
“This clarification has become necessary in view of the deluge of deliberate misinformation being dished out to Nigerians by the President of ASUU, Prof. Osodeke as well as his branch leaders, calling on President Buhari to sign an agreement which they claimed to have reached with the Federal Government,” a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, Olajide Oshundun, read in part.
Professor Osodoke, however, fired back on Sunrise Daily.
“It is so sad that we have gotten to a stage where our children are lamenting at home and the Minister of Labour is busy churning out fake information and misinforming the public, trying to undermine the integrity of ASUU,” he said.
He challenged Dr Ngige to show Nigerians proof of a claim that his delegation was walked out of a meeting with ASUU members.
The ASUU President said Ngige resorted to fake news having failed to force the striking members to call off the strike by withholding their salary for five months.
ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on industrial action, accusing the Federal Government of failing to meet its demands.
Some of the demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement, deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of lecturers, and the release of the white paper report of the visitation panels to universities among others.
The situation has forced the government from paying the striking lecturers their salaries even as they insisted that the industrial action will be called off once their agreements are met.
On Wednesday, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, said it was unacceptable that Nigerian Universities remain closed after so many months.
“This is unacceptable especially as these things are happening in a democracy,” Bishop Kukah said at the signing of a peace accord for the Osun State governorship election.