The Federal Government has began moves to bring all unions within the university system under one single entity, Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed has disclosed.
According to him, the polarization of the university system, where each of the Union comes up with their individual demands to the Federal Government was constituting bottlenecks for government to accede to their demands.
Rasheed also attributed the phenomenon to why university education in Nigeria can’t match up to their peers abroad, academically.
He made the disclosure while speaking as special guest at the 2nd Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU in Abuja, on Monday.
According to him, talks were on to convince the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress to invite all the various unions to a round table, to see reasons why they needed to come under one umbrella.
Among the unions expected to key into the new proposal includes the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, Non Academic Staff Union of Universities NASU, the National Association of Academic Technologists NAAT and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities SSANU.
He argued that there was need for the unions to enter into negotiations with the government with one accord, rather than a segmented approach.
While appealing to the conscience of the unions, the NUC Scribe said it is regrettable that most times government and individual unions lock horns negotiating for better welfare packages for the staff at the detriment of the students.
He said, “No university in the world can operate effectively insolation, it is frustrating that the University system in Nigeria have been polarized by various unions, you have NAAT, ASUU, SSANU all negotiating for different things.
” Most times, while one group is negotiating with government, others are warning up for strike unless their demands are met”.
Rasheed also disclosed that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu has secured the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to dispatch visitation panels to all public universities in Nigeria.
He explained that the need arose following the ugly incidents that trailed the University of Lagos, where the Pro-Chancellor, Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council ordered the sack of the former Vice Chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
He said the respective panels which will soon be inaugurated are expected to tour the universities and bring back a ten year report, in two separate batches of five years each.
Also, following the resignation of Wale Babalakin as Chairman of the universities renegotiation committee, the Federal Government has reconstituted an eight man Committee to harmonise and finalise existing agreements between government and the unions.
The NUC scribe said letters of appointment will be handed to the appointees by Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
Recall that while issues of 2009 Joint renegotiated agreement and NEEDS Assessment programme is yet to be resolved in most of the public universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government have been engaged in a battle of wits over the controversial Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System IPPIS, even before the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic broke out globally.
On the other hand, SSANU, NASU have criticized the federal government for its alleged recalcitrance in implementing Earned Allowances and other special welfare packages for its teaming members.