Femi Falana, a human rights campaigner, has said that the Muhammadu Buhari-led Government isn’t prepared to put an end to the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ protracted strike.
During an interview on Friday on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, Falana made this statement.
The Industrial Court in a recent ruling asked ASUU to return to the classrooms after the Federal Government and the striking university body could not come to an agreement.
ASUU President, Professor Victor Osodeke, has been adamant, insisting that the lecturers won’t back down and will appeal the injunction notwithstanding Justice Polycarp Hamman’s decision on Wednesday.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria commented on the court’s decision by saying that if the government listens to ASUU, all strikes are avoidable.
“It is about funding… in 1992, ASUU convinced the government that employers of labour should pay education tax because those trained by the government are employed by employers,” Falana said.
He expressed annoyance over the government’s failure to honour its agreement pact signed in 2009 to revitalise the public tertiary institution but was willing to increase the fuel subsidy.
He said, “All the government says is we have no money, but the same administration, this year alone, increased fuel subsidy from 443 billion Naira to 4 trillion Naira and we are now being told that before the end of the year may metamorphose into 6.3 trillion.
“So where are you getting such money to fund waste and fraud but when it comes to education you say you have no money, I think these are some of the issues.”
On the dragging of ASUU to the Industrial Court, Falana said the action of the Federal Government was wrong.
He said, “It was wrong to approach the court. We tried to explain to the court, and the court said they would look at that later.
“We made clear to the court and submitted more than six cases where the same court as warned the minister consistently that you cannot come here without originating your case in the IAP if it relates to trade disputes.
“This is the first time in the history of that court that we have been told that the minister can refer a case to the national industrial court without going through the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP).
“Because the NIC under the current labour law regime in Nigeria is an appellate chamber of the AIP. So, it is an appellate court. It is only when individuals are sacked that you want to challenge your employer or there are intra or inter-union disputes that you approach the national industrial court.: There must be meditation, conciliation and arbitration under the law.
“The court found that this is a trade dispute and that there was no reference to the IAP, but the court in its wisdom decided to intervene, and the only way you can show your dissatisfaction is to approach the appeal court which ASUU has decided to do.”