Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and principal lawyer for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, has urged Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila to extend an apology to the union’s members.
The speaker was criticized by the human rights lawyer for contradicting the settlement struck with ASUU.
Falana in a statement on Thursday said that Gbajabiamila’s efforts to resolve issues relating to the government and ASUU strike were cut short by a member of the Federal Executive Council.
The speaker was accused of misleading the union by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the president of ASUU.
However, on Wednesday, a number of legislators disagreed and spoke out in support of the speaker.
In his response, Falana said, “It is public knowledge that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila intervened in the last strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. Several meetings were held with the relevant stakeholders by the leadership of the House. While briefing the Nigerian people on the resolution of the crisis on October 10, 2022, the Speaker did categorically state as follows:
“We agreed with ASUU and the government on certain things which we took to Mr President. I have visited the president twice. The first time we made our recommendations with the government shifting some and ASUU shifting some. We spoke with Mr President. There was one sticking issue which was the issue of no work no pay. And the President did ask that he would suggest the recommendations and would have one more meeting which we did on Friday after the budget.
“That meeting was even better than the first one we had with him, and Mr President had agreed to settle things. I am not going to talk about that now, and that he would disclose whatever it is tomorrow, Tuesday which is tomorrow.”
According to Falana, when the Federal Government turned around to renege on the vexed issue of ‘no work, no pay’ the Speaker assured the lecturers on October 24, 2022, of his ability to resolve the issues in dispute.
Gbajabiamila had said after the government declared no work no pay’, “The Executive position that it is not obligated to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is premised on the law and the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who has manifested his desire to do what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.”
Falana further said, “From the information at my disposal, the intervention of the House Leadership in resolving the crisis was sabotaged by a member of the Federal Executive Council.
“Having been embarrassed by the circumstance, the Speaker should have apologised to the ASUU and the Nigerian people instead of denying the agreement reached with ASUU and President Buhari on the decision of the Federal Government to pay for the period covered by the strike. The Agreement was based on the commitment of the lecturers to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session was not cancelled.”