Threatening fresh strike over agreed N22bn allowance unpaid, but referred to as a collective agreement not enforceable per se, is the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Federal Government signed Memorandum of Understanding last year promising to fulfil demands. In this interview with ADETUNJI AYO-BROWN, his discussion ranges from payment of earned allowances, to the introduction of the UTAS platform and payment of revitalisation fund for universities among others.
But ASUU has given FG three-week ultimatum over lingering demands. Barrister Monday Adjeh, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Bwari Branch, labour relations expert, bares his mind on what are the options left for ASUU aside from strike. What can be done to save Nigeria education sector from collapsing. Excerpts;
Nigeria have witnessed a lot of shutting down via strikes over the years. What do you think can be done?
It is rather unfortunate that this has been a culture kind of, especially on the part of the government in Nigeria not to obey its own side of the contract. While, it has been an endless story, as if these parties are forced into the signing of this agreement.
As it is, it is the Nigerian factors which are something we need to collectively address. To have a peaceful society, in first place what causes such strikes should be addressed where everyone play their roles for the society. Regrettably that is not what is happening here in Nigeria.
Dashing of hopes and purposes when it is time for agreement implementation is not good. Why does implementations of signed agreements always become issue?
Other than ultimatums and strikes, what other options are available for ASUU?
As described by many ASUU strike is sympathetic. And from the legal point of view, it has little or nothing to enforce it.
Such agreement is referred to as collective agreement, which is not enforceable per se under our law. Because looking at the position of our law, FG is not a party to an agreement that can enforce or approach a court of competent jurisdiction for the enforcement of such agreement.
But again, by the enactment of our law that established National Industrial Court powered to interpret and also to enforce collective agreement. That is the only option left for ASUU.
But, with the fear that ASUU as a body is an association and not and no individual can apply for the enforcement reach. And that is why it is difficult to approach court over these years.
With the contents of the agreement not made known to the public. As at the time of signing, there is no intention to enforce any legal implication. It was a gentleman agreement.
The only option left for ASUU is seat at a roundtable with FG because with less than three years into the end of this administration. It is their duty to come back to reality, and move with appropriate authorities. And carried along some other organisation which has sympathy for the union.
It is no longer ASUU’s affair, the union can not win it alone. There is need to carry along some other unions in order to achieve the desired end of this strike.
It is no longer the issue of strike. Strike can no longer solve Nigeria’s education problem because it has been over abused on several occasions.
Though, I sympathise with ASUU because it is their right to embark on strike. There is need for ASUU to re-strategised.
While carrying some other unions along, there is need for ASUU to come to a strong roundtable with FG again with likes of Nigeria Labour Union, and others with its sympathy. So that they can reach a concrete agreement enforceable, so all the parties would be happy at last.
With interest of their students at their hearts, ASUU other unions and associations should talk with FG.