Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) criticized Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, on Tuesday for allegedly authorizing the part-payment of salaries to union members after the union’s eight-month strike was suspended in October.
Stating this while speaking on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Tuesday, Osodeke said that the minister had lost the right to broker an agreement with the union since he approached the court.
“He (Ngige) has gone to court, which means he has lost his right as a conciliator. Once he has taken this case to the Industrial Court, he has lost that right as a conciliator; he has no say again, but he’s still interloping,” Osodeke said.
Osodeke stated that he was certain that the union’s agitations would be handled in the best interests of students, parents, and the country.
“And we have found that it was he who actually wrote to the Minister of Finance personally, not directed, that they should stop our salary. It’s just personal. We are surprised because, having taken the case to court, by all rights, he has hands are tied. He has no business with what we do.”
“But to our surprise, the Accountant General Office decided to pay what some people have referred to as half. It’s very sad because professors who are on the same salary scale got varying amounts, N200,000, N180,000, N90,000 and what have you,” he said.
The head of the ASUU acknowledged that the partial payment was the first wage paid to union members since the strike began.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is, can a Minister of Labour direct the Minister of Finance on what to do? The answer is no. We are under the Ministry of Education, and we thought that anybody that can give such a directive who monitors what we do through the NUC is the Minister of Education.
“It is the Minister of Education, who we are under, and the Speaker on whose intervention we called off the strike because of the issue we said that, one, they are going to pay us backlog of our salaries because ASUU is different from another union,” he said.