The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige has criticized the Ministry of Education as regards the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
He said this in a statement released by the Labour ministry’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Patience Onuobia, on Monday, April 11, 2022. This came following a meeting with members of the government’s team on the 2009 Federal Government/University-based Unions’ Agreement Renegotiation Committee, led by its Chairman, Prof. Nimi Briggs.
Last month, ASUU announced that they had extended the strike by an additional 2 months.
According to Ngige, the federal government has been pushing to see that everything contained in the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the government and the university union was done.
“I started pushing to see that things were done. What the Munzali committee came up with is a proposal. Both Munzali and ASUU did not sign. At our last meeting in February before ASUU proceeded on strike, we said everyone should go back to his principal.
”I asked Education several times what they had done with the document. We later got information on areas of disagreement. There is nothing wrong with that. It is bound to happen. I told ASUU to put up a committee, they said Munzali committee had expired.
“As a conciliator, I have to make use of the labour instruments at my disposal. The bosses in the Federal Ministry of Education do not feel the strike. There are things that are above me. I am not Minister of Education.”
”I cannot go to the Education Minister and dictate to him how to run his place. But I told ASUU that you should be bombarding them at the Federal Ministry of Education for this to be moved forward. There are many ways to do so,”
Furthermore, Ngige added that going on strike isn’t the only tool the union could use to express their unhappiness with the government. He advised the union to use what he called picketing.
“There are many ways to do so. If you go to the Labour Act, there is something called picketing. You can picket. A strike is an ultimate thing. Picketing means that you can stay in the corridor, clapping or singing. Workers are permitted to do so. But I am tired that every time there is a disagreement, it is a strike.
“And the bosses in the Federal Ministry of Education don’t feel the strike. It is the children and some of us parents that have our children in public schools. I have my children in public universities, including those on my foundation’s scholarship and sponsorship.”
“So, I am a parent. I feel it. I didn’t send my children to Igbinedion or Afe Babalola or Cambridge,” he said.