Human rights activist Femi Falana has stated that the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ ongoing strike can be resolved immediately, but the government is unwilling to do so.
Falana revealed this on Friday during an interview on flagship show, Sunrise.
The federal government was at odds with the striking University body, which resulted in the industrial court ordering the lecturers to return to the classrooms.
Despite Wednesday’s ruling by Justice Polycarp Hamman, ASUU President Professor Victor Osodeke was adamant that the lecturers would not back down and would appeal the injunction.
In response to the court decision, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria stated, “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.”
The 64-year-old was irritated by the government’s refusal to honour a 2009 agreement pact to revitalise the public tertiary institution, but was willing to increase fuel subsidies.
“All the government says is that we have no money, but the same administration has increased fuel subsidies from 443 billion Naira to 4 trillion Naira this year alone, and we are now told that by the end of the year, it 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 don’t have any money?” he asked.
Falana believed that the federal government erred in filing the case with the industrial court.
“We tried to explain to the court why it was wrong to approach the court, and the court said they would look into it later.”
“We made clear to the court and submitted more than six cases in which the same court consistently warned the minister that you cannot come here without first originating your case in the IAP if it relates to trade disputes,” he said.
“We have been told for the first time in the history of that court that the minister can refer a case to the national industrial court without going through the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP).”
“Because the NIC is an appellate chamber of the AIP under Nigeria’s current labour law regime.” As a result, it is an appellate court. Only when individuals are fired do you have the right to sue your employer, or when there are intra or inter-union disputes do you go to the national industrial court.
The law requires mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.
“The court determined that this is a trade dispute with 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.”