By Felix Khanoba
The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has rejected the latest moves by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to break its rank through a reconciliation attempt.
Coordinator of CONUA, Niyi Sunmonu announced the body’s position in a statement issued on Saturday in Lagos.
According to the statement, Olubayo Olu, the Akure Zonal Coordinator of ASUU recently sent a text message to some leaders of the Congress in the Obafemi Awolowo University, invited them to a meeting at Ile-Ife in Osun.
Sunmonu stated that the content of the text messages read: “reconcile the various factions of ASUU in your branch’’.
He declared that CONUA was an independent union and not a faction of ASUU and, therefore, dishonoured the invitation.
“CONUA is an independent academic staff union with highly progressive and widely accepted philosophy and vision that are different from those of ASUU,’’ the statement read in part.
On the Congress’s registration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Sunmonu said that the leadership of the body had applied for and met all the necessary requirements for registration as a trade union since 2018.
“The Minister of Labour and Employment confirmed this and indicated he had set up a committee to advise him in this regard.
“Hence, CONUA is anxiously awaiting the approval and announcement of its registration.
“Nonetheless, CONUA will continue to conduct its activities and propagate its philosophy and vision in line with the freedom of association enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Therefore, any meeting with ASUU would amount to a distraction to our core activities focused on rebranding and providing an alternative platform for academic staff members.
“Its platform will enable the members to express their views without hindrance in advancing the Nigerian education sector in general and tertiary education in particular,’’ he said.
CONUA, Sunmonu added, currently has membership in 18 universities across the country.
According to him, the formation of the Congress is based on irreconcilable differences with ASUU, especially on matters of principle and modus operandi.
“CONUA focus on how to solve the hydra-headed problems in our universities.’’
He also stated that CONUA was ready to synergise with other agreeable unions within universities to proffer solutions to issues affecting teaching, research and community services in the country.