The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said the Federal Government will consider taking the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to the industrial court, if the reconciliation process to resolve the ongoing strike fails.
ASUU embarked on a one-month warning strike on February 14, 2022, but it was extended on March 14 by eight weeks.
The union cited its dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s “disappointing” response on the matter.
Since then, ASUU and the government have held several meetings, but no agreement has been reached.
Speaking on Thursday in an interview with Channels Television, Ngige warned ASUU to refrain from “intimidating” officials in the ministry of digital communications and economy and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) over the deployment of the University Transparency Account System (UTAS) proposed by the union.
The Minister also claimed the union has threatened the Minister of Digital Communications and Economy, Isa Pantami, with revocation of his professorship.
He said: “The solution is that number one, ASUU has to come down from its high horse. You cannot go and start intimidating people in NITDA and threatening the minister of digital economy and communications with revocation of his professorship; that he is a fake professor and that they did not approve it.
They went to ABU and said they are going to withdraw the certificate of the director of NITDA. That is bullying. It is not allowed in labour negotiations.”
The minister also said the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee has been given six weeks to submit its report, adding that the six-week period will end on Friday.
Ngige said he will invite parties involved in the matter for a meeting by next week.
Asked what will happen if the status quo remains after his intervention, the labour minister said the federal government will consider taking the union to the industrial court if reconciliation fails.
What is happening now is we have given the Nimi Briggs committee six weeks. We are waiting for their report. The minister of education has to transmit it and say this is what we have agreed,” he said.
He will also transmit to the presidential committee on salaries. The six-week period ends this Friday and I’m calling everybody up by next week.
The law says we can go to the industrial arbitration panel, which is where I’m supposed to refer this matter to if reconciliation fails, or national industrial court if reconciliation fails.
It is a double-barrel thing. I will choose the one I want. I will refer. The law says once conciliation has started at my level, you call off the strike,” he added.