By Bimbola Oyesola
Organised labour, at the weekend, warned the Federal Government against any plan to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) through non-acceptance of the ASUU’s annual financial returns and audited accounts.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, in a letter to the Minister of Labour, titled “Non-Rendition of Annual Financial Returns and Audited Accounts,” noted that ASUU was able to submit as requested within 24 hours but the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions, under the Labour Ministry, failed to accept the document.
The letter with attention to the Registrar of Trade Unions read, “Our attention has been drawn by to a letter dated 7th September, 2022, written to ASUU by the Registrar of Trade Unions on the foregoing subject.
“We understand that ASUU had responded to the directives of the Registrar of Trade Unions to submit its Annual Financial Reports and Audited Accounts within 72 hours.
“The Annual Financial Reports and Audited Accounts of ASUU as requested were submitted by ASUU to the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions, Federal Ministry of Labour, in less than 24 hours, specifically on the 8th of September 2022.”
Wabba said the congress was alarmed that the timely submission of the Annual Financial Reports and Audited Accounts by ASUU in accordance with the directives of the Registrar of Trade Unions was rejected by the staff at the Office of the Registrar of Trade Unions.
According to the NLC president, the staff disclosed that they were under strict instructions not to accept ASUU’s Annual Financial Reports and Audited Accounts. He added that later efforts to send the requested union’s financial documents by courier services were equally rejected by the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions.
The NLC, attaching the documents as a prove to the letter to the Minister expressed, “Juxtaposing the unnerving short notice given to ASUU to submit its Annual Financial Reports and Audited Accounts with the unveiled threats by the Registrar of Trade Unions to withdraw ASUU’s Certificate of Registration and the rather callous refusal to accept the same documents upon submission by ASUU all signpost a very sinister agenda which is capable of destroying the current general harmony in industrial relations in Nigeria.”
He noted that the current travail by ASUU appears to resonate with remarks in the public domain that government has perfected plans to proscribe the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
He warned that, if such a plan is true, it would only serve to remind Nigerians of the dark years of military rule where unions were proscribed for standing up in defence of the rights of workers.
He stated, “We write to urge the Honourable Minister to direct the Registrar of Trade Unions not to be used to execute an obnoxious plot against Nigerian workers especially our lecturers in the universities.
The Registrar of Trade Unions should accept the Annual Financial Report and Audited Accounts submitted by ASUU. We posit very strongly that ASUU should not be punished for demanding that government respects the Collective Bargaining Agreements it entered with them.
“Finally, we wish to remind government that Article 3 subsection 2 of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association which Nigeria ratified since October 17, 1960, provides as follows:
The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.”
Wabba said while entire labour movement watch with keen interest the developing situation with the consciousness that an injury to one is an injury to all, the Congress implore that a stitch in time might still save nine.