Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), has described Federal Government’s (FG) move to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), as not only unconstitutional but also hypocritical as negotiation is ongoing towards ending the lingering strike.
CDHR described the proposed action as unreasonable, ill-thought out and impracticable as this could further worsen the situation and deepen the crisis taking a cue from antecedents.
According to a statement, signed by National Publicity Secretary, CDHR Nigeria, Idris Olayinka, it is not the first time the union is proscribed.
“It was proscribed twice in the history of its existence, first on August 7, 1988, and subsequently on August 23, 1992.
“The move is hypocritical and unreasonable because it amounts to sidestepping the legitimate concerns of ASUU, which are largely for the survival of public tertiary education in Nigeria. Specifically, ASUU has accused the FG of violating the principles of collective bargaining by rejecting the recommendations of the Professor Nimi Brigg’s Committee, which was set up to renegotiate the 2009 agreement.
“The same government had equally abandoned the recommendations of its preceding committee on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement. Till date, the FG has been unable to respond to these serious allegations, which signpost FG’s dogma and despotism in this matter being current dominant features and characterisation of this government both in governance and industrial relations,” he said.
The statement continued, “CDHR draws the attention of the FG to Section 39 and 40 of the nation’s Constitution and other international industrial treaties, which render its proposed proscription of the union illegal, illegitimate, unconstitutional and impracticable.
The statement noted that the right ASUU has to exist as a union is guaranteed under Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and would require fundamental constitutional amendments to contemplate the ill-fated idea of proscription.
According to the statement, the freedom of association and protection of the right to organise convention No. 87 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention completely prevent the FG from banning or suspending trade unions having duly subscribed to the convention.
“The ILO convention guarantees the principle that parties to the convention are obligated to ensure the right of both employers and employees to join an organisation of their choice and remain free from any influence of authorities.
“In addition, the FG will have to withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87 of the ILO before it could toy with such dubious idea,” the statement reads.