The crisis in the Kogi State University (KSU) preceded the strike called by the national body of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), but at the Anyigba campus of the crisis-ridden school, long faces greet visitors to the university on Friday.
This follows the sack of nearly 100 lecturers because they would not succumb to what many describe as “blackmail” by the state government. For an institution desperately short of teachers, the move was labelled as “catastrophic” by insiders who fear a mass withdrawal of students by parents.
Said a source yesterday evening: “You heard of the so called ‘proscription of ASUU in Kogi State University. In order to break the strike, registers were placed in every Faculty & department for lecturers to sign. Those who stood their ground as members of ASUU and refused to sign the registers have now been issued sack letters- not less than 97 of them.:
The school management could not be reached for comments but it would be recalled that at the height of the disagreement between the school lecturers and the state government last July, the state governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello, proscribed ASUU after members kept the school inactive since February.
ASUU Nsukka Zonal Co-ordinator, Professor U.D. Ikani, directed members then not to succumb to the blackmail of government, while tracing the history of the disagreement.
His memo then read:
Dear comrades, on Thursday 13th July 2017, ASUU-KSU Congress met with the zonal coordinator, Nsukka zone in attendance. The Congress resolved among other things to have a joint meeting between the university management, council chairman and the zonal leadership in order to chart a way forward in the logjam arising from the strike action embarked by ASUU-KSU since 3rd February 2017.
This resolution was communicated to the vice chancellor of the Kogi State University, Anyigba who later contacted the zonal coordinator and fixed a meeting for Tuesday 18th July 2017 by 11:00am. The vice chancellor shifted the meeting to Wednesday 19th 2017at the instance of the chairman of the council. At about 4:00am on Tuesday 18th 2017, the chairman of council personally called the zonal coordinator, Nsukka zone and pleaded that the meeting be further shifted to Thursday 20th 2017 at 10: 00am. It was while I was on my way to Anyigba for the meeting yesterday that I got the shocking information of the despotic and illegal act of the Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello allegedly proscribing ASUU-KSU, Anyigba.
The question is, is Yahaya Bello in any position legally capable of proscribing ASUU-KSU, Anyigba? The answer is NO. The issue of industrial relations is essentially an aspect of labour law. Under scheduled ii, part I, labour matters are listed as item 34 on the exclusive legislative list – the implications of this coupled with the provisions of section 4 of the constitution of federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), only the National Assembly can validly make law or any pronouncement on labour matters. We take our bearing from the provisions of the constitution because it is the fundamental law of the country. In other words, the CFRN, 1999 is the supreme law of the land. Thus any law or any act by anybody no matter how highly placed which is inconsistent with it’s provisions is to the extent of the inconsistency null and void (see section 1(3) of the CRFN,1999.).
By section 40 of the constitution, “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, Trade Union or any other association for the protection of interests.”
ASUU, as a Trade Union of academics in Nigerian universities is a body of intellectuals that cannot be allegedly proscribed on the pages of newspaper or other social media. The action of Mr Yahaya Bello of allegedly proscribing ASSU-KSU, Anyigba therefore smacked off ignorance of the position of law and brings to fore the question of whether he has the mental capacity and the needed leadership quality or ability to lead the state as a governor.
Mr Yahaya Bello is not alone in this dastardly obnoxious, primitive and draconian act. He is doing it in conjunction with the monsters and demons within the university system- in this case Kogi State University Anyigba . if not, how do you explain the attitude of the Vice -Chancellor and other principal officials of the University and the Pro-Chancellor and chairman of the governing council, who are all professors in the University but could not advice the dictator about the nature of autonomy and the workings of a university system?
ASUU, as a trade Union with several members, have every right to agitate and struggle for the protection of the interest and welfare of its members especially in a democratic setting; it is thus unfortunate that though ASUU remains a viable and formidable union in Nigeria, most of her members including professors, PhD holders, and even the graduate students occupying various positions in our citadels have in one way or another contributed to the weakening, dismantling and even the alleged proscription of the ASSU-KSU, Anyigba. Prosperity will judge us all.
THE WAY FORWARD
In the light of the above, ASSU-KSU, Anyigba members should abide by the following until further directive from National Executive Council (NEC):
1. Remain calm, as the threat of the adolescent Governor of kogi state amounts to empty noise and nothing else. Mr Yahaya Bello has no power to proscribe ASUU-KSU, Anyigba.
2. Remain strong, united and resolute in the face of this empty threat as your employment is regulated by statues and cannot be vitiated by mere pronouncement of an adolescent tout who assumed the position of Governor accidentally.
3. NEC is holding on the 22nd and 23rd of July, 2017 and will address this ugly development, using all legal means possible.
4. No member of the ASUU -KSU, Anyigba should resume duty as the strike is still in force.
5. All members of the Union should stay away from the University until further directive from NEC.
6. Nobody should sign any register, as you will be doing so at your own peril.
7. Remember, united we bargain and divided we beg.