Forty years old Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is going through a major strain to its existence. Right now, one of the major branches last week resolved to pull out of the national body and form a different union.
The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) branch of ASUU last week made a bold statement when it decided to pull of the national body citing several reasons for the resolve.
The decision by the OAU branch to pull out of ASUU is generating ripples among members in the Nigerian university system.
This is the first time a branch of ASUU has taken such decision. Investigations revealed that the national body gets 61 per cent of check off dues from each branch.
The crack started surfacing around 2016 during the election of a new vice chancellor which was later cancelled by the federal government for non-compliance with the guidelines.
The decision to pull out of ASUU by the OAU branch was reached at a congress held on February 12, which also rejected the resolutions of ASUU NEC meeting on the face-off between it and the parent body over internal crisis.
Investigations by The Education Report uncovered that at the start of the face-off with ASUU national, over 732 OAU academic staff out of a total of 1,371 in 2017 wrote the VC to stop payment of their check off dues to the national body in protest against the way it handled the internal crisis.
The resolutions of the congress signed by the chairman, Caretaker Committee, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu gave reasons why the branch decided to pull and form a new union includes, the unilateral removal of the elected treasurer by the ASUU national president and also the alleged transfer of N11m from OAU branch account to ASUU national account.
Sunmonu gave a report of the events that led to the present state of affairs, which indicated that Dr. Aborisade failed to represent the view of the congress in the 2016 VC selection process leading to a decision by the congress directing him to repudiate his submission declaring the selection process “free, fair, credible, and transparent” and failed to repudiate that submission as directed by the congress till today.
The resolution revealed that ASUU NEC constituted the Osodeke visitation committee to the OAU to investigate circumstances leading to the suspension of the VC selection process and also the dissolution of the university governing council by the federal government.
‘’Contrary to the views of most of the ASUU OAU members, the committee concluded that the council of OAU followed the process to conclusion and that the cancellation of the entire process was wrong and condemned by ASUU. This report was widely circulated in national dailies shortly after its presentation to ASUU NEC.
‘’At a congress called by the Aborisade executive on Thursday, October 20, 2016, after discussing the substantive matter, congress demanded to know how the report of the Osodeke visitation committee got to the press, and whether that report reflected the views of ASUU NEC. Rather than address the matter, the presiding officers abruptly abandoned the congress midstream. Congress subsequently resolved to conclude the meeting and since there was no constitutional provision to deal with such matter, congress in its wisdom nominated a three-man Caretaker Committee to steer the affairs of the union in the interim,” he stated.
According to him, the congress opposed the removal of the duly elected treasurer and transfer of N11m prompted majority of members to request that their check off dues deduction to ASUU national be stopped.
Summonu said the decision of ASUU NEC to accept the suspended and contentious result of the VC selection and the rejection of the caretaker committee to run the affairs of the union after the presiding officers abandoned the congress midstream on Thursday, October 20, 2016 which they conveyed formed another reason why they pulled out.
ASUU OAU branch has been at loggerheads with the national body over the constitution of a caretaker committee following the sack of Dr. Caleb Aborisade led executive by the congress as fallout of the cancelled Vice Chancellor selection.
ASUU national rejected the sack of the Aborisade exco but the local branch insisted on the Summonu caretaker committee and went further to stop remittance of check off dues to the national body.
Reacting to ASUU NEC meeting of February 3-4, which expelled three OAU branch caretaker committee members and the suspension of 13 others, he explained that congress rejected the sanctions and passed a vote of confidence on the Summonu committee. It reaffirmed its total confidence in the caretaker committee and those sanctioned.
The resolution added that: ‘’Congress decided to constitute itself into a branch that is totally independent of NEC, adopt appropriate name and open a new branch account for the check off dues of its members in this regards.”
The aggrieved OAU academic staff also resolved to constitute an electoral committee to conduct the election of its executive within the next two weeks and went further to appoint a five-man electoral committee. Another major decision taken was the composition of a constitutional drafting committee to draft a new constitution for the branch and three members were appointed to handle the task.
The branch also decided to write the VC to stop the check off dues deductions for all academics in OAU in view of the information that the bursar had failed to implement the written requests by some members that their check off dues deductions be stopped.
It was also gathered that ASUU NEC suspended the embattled chairman, Aborisade for six months, for misrepresenting NEC while the Akure zonal coordinator, Dr. Alex Odiyi was issued warning letter.