Former INEC boss Jega talks tough, accuses Ngige of turning ASUU strike into personal fight

Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega has accused labour minister Chris Ngige of worsening negotiations between the striking lecturers and the federal government.

Jega, who is also a former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) made the allegation during an interview on Arise Television, on Tuesday, October 5, 2022.

According to him, the minister is responsible for how the seven-month-old strike has lingered, having turned the situation into a personal affair.

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“The minister of labour is not helping matters, he has turned to this into a personal quarrel between him and the Minister of Education on the one hand and between himself and the Academic staff union on the other,” Mr Jega said.

The professor of political science said the minister has been working at cross purposes with ASUU and the education ministry to solve the knotty issue but instead making collective negotiation complicated.

Jega pointed out Ngige’s action to register rival bodies – Congress of University Academics and National Association of Medical and Dental Academics- this week as some of the ways Ngige is frustrating an amicable solution to the logjam in the university system.

“And while many people are trying to find a way of addressing this situation so that students can go back to school and ASUU can go back to work, he (Ngige) is busy creating challenges, he now took the matter to the Industrial Court, ASUU has appealed. Now today he now registers two unions trying to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of Universities. If this is allowed, I think this is a recipe for disaster and it may really create more problems than it can solve on this matter of strikes in universities.”

ASUU has been on strike since February 2022 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, and a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.

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Several meetings between ASUU and the federal government have ended in deadlock.

Consequently, the federal government went to court to challenge the strike.

On September 21, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) ordered ASUU to call off its strike, after which the union filed an appeal seeking a stay of execution of the judgment.

On Tuesday, the federal government formally recognised the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), a breakaway faction of ASUU.

The minister of labour and employment presented the certificate of registration to CONUA at an event held in Abuja.

The move is believed to be an attempt to reduce the influence of ASUU.

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