Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has criticised Federal Government’s alleged move to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), describing the plan as not only unconstitutional, but also hypocritical, since negotiation is ongoing to end the strike.
The group’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Idris Afees Olayinka, in a statement, yesterday, said besides being unreasonable, the move amounts to sidestepping the legitimate concerns of ASUU, which are largely for the survival of public tertiary education in Nigeria.
Describing the proposed action as unreasonable, ill thought-out and impracticable as it could worsen the situation, CDHR recalled that this would not the first time the union is proscribed. The rights group said: “It was proscribed twice in the history of its existence, first on August 7, 1988, and subsequently on August 23, 1992.”
“Specifically, ASUU has accused the Federal Government of violating the principles of collective bargaining by rejecting the recommendations of the Prof. Nimi Brigg’s committee, which was set up to renegotiate the 2009 agreement. Recall that the same government had equally abandoned the recommendations of its preceding committee on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
“Till date, the Federal Government has been unable to respond to these serious allegations which signpost FG’s dogma and despotism in this matter being current dominant features and characterisation of this government both in governance and industrial relations.”
CDHR, however, called the attention of the Federal Government to “desist from this diabolical move to proscribe ASUU, but rather be advised to face the realities, intensify efforts to meet the union’s demands and put the nation’s public universities on a pedestal that would enable them compete globally.”
According to the group, in the “unlikely event that the government continues to nurse the impracticable idea of proscribing ASUU, it will have no option than to mobilise and join forces with other patriotic and progressive formations in the country to resist this unholy move.”
It also drew the attention of government to Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and other international industrial treaties, which render the government’s proposed proscription of the union illegal, illegitimate, unconstitutional and impracticable.
The group went on: “The right ASUU has to exist as a union is guaranteed under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and would require fundamental constitutional amendments to contemplate the ill-fated idea of proscription.
“Similarly, the freedom of association and protection of the right to organise convention No. 87 of the International Labour Organisation Convention completely prevents the Federal Government from banning or suspending trade unions having duly subscribed to the convention.
“The ILO Convention guarantees the principle that parties to the convention are obligated to ensure the right of both employers and employees to join an organisation of their choice and remain free from any influence of authorities.
“In addition, the Federal Government will have to withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87 of the International Labour Organisation before it could toy with such dubious ideas.”