The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has asked the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to stop threatening his counterpart in the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
Ngige also accused ASUU of bullying the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa.
The labour minister on Thursday said the solution to the ongoing industrial action by the university lecturers is in their hands.
Pantami and seven academics were elevated by the council of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri to the position of a professorship at the council’s 186th meeting.
The minister’s promotion generated controversy and ASUU later said it would sanction Pantami and the vice-chancellor of FUTO.
After its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Lagos in February, ASUU declared Pantami’s promotion illegal.
At a press conference, President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said, “You cannot be a minister and a lecturer in a university. It is an encouragement of illegality.
“Pantami has to quit as a minister and be tried for doing double jobs within the same federal system. He is not qualified. Pantami should not be treated as a professor. We have resolved to sanction ASUU members involved in his promotion and the VC of FUTO.”
Similarly, the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU earlier threatened to initiate the process of withdrawing the degree certificate of the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, as an alumnus of the university.
This followed Inuwa’s submission that the ASUU-favoured “University Transparency and Accountability Solution, had failed integrity test, vulnerability test (security integrity), User Acceptance Test and stress load test, as well as the hardware requirements.”
However, Ngige while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, said, “ASUU has to come down from their high horse. You cannot go and start intimidating people in NITDA and threatening the Minister of Digital Economy and Communication with revocation of his professorship that he is a fake professor.
“You go to ABU (Ahmadu Bello University) and say you are going to withdraw the certificate of the director of NITDA. That’s bullying. It is not allowed in the labour negotiations.”
Speaking on when the ongoing strike by university lecturers will end, Ngige noted that it was in the hands of the lecturers’ union (ASUU).
“It depends on ASUU. The ball is in their court. They should go and meet the Benimi Briggs Committee and look at what the committee is doing and make further inputs so that the work can be accelerated,” he said.
Ngige, who noted that he had “not slept” in a bid to see universities reopened, added, “The ASUU issue is a recurring decimal.”
He said the union has gone on many strikes in the last two decades.
“It is a very sad situation. I am a product of the public school,” the former Anambra governor said.
The minister noted that there would be a meeting of all stakeholders next week as part of moves to resolve the lingering strike.
Meanwhile, ASUU had accused the Nigerian Government of unseriousness in its handling of the crisis in the education sector.
Osodeke faulted the government’s budgeting of money for the payment of fuel subsidy and questioned why a substantial sum could not be allocated for its demands.
The lecturers went on strike over two months ago to demand increased funding for universities among other issues.
Saharareporters, New York