Obaseki Bans Unionism in State-owned Higher Institutions

•ASUU tackles governor

•Edo to build 20 technical colleges, pledges more investment in technical, vocational education

Adibe Emenyonu

The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki yesterday suspended all union activities in state institutions of higher learning following protest by students of Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The decision which was made after the State Executive Council meeting at Government House Benin City takes effect immediately.

In a statement, the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, named the affected unions to include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Non-Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and all allied unions operating across all state-owned tertiary institutions.

According to the statement, “By this notice, academic activities are to resume in all state-owned institutions and all cadre of staff are directed to report to their duty posts immediately.

“Students across all state-owned tertiary institutions are expected to resume for lectures as necessary measures have been taken to ensure resumption of academic and non-academic activities.” 

He added: “Management of the affected institutions have been mandated to pay all outstanding salaries immediately.

“The management of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, is hereby directed to implement a no-work-no-pay policy, declare vacant and advertise the position of any staff that refuses to resume work in line with this directive.”

However, responding to the ban on union activities in state-owned tertiary institutions, the Chairman, ASUU chapter, Dr. Cyril Onogbosele, said the state government has no powers to ban its activities because the union wasn’t registered with the state government.

In a statement, Onogbosele said: We have seen the release banning the activities of union in the state institution including ASUU. The Academic Staff Union of Universities is a legal trade union and we have rights of association and activities in the eye of the law, so on what bases is the banning union activities because student protested the union is on strike.”

He said the union had been on strike and that the school management was duly notified on the industrial action over the 17 months salary owed the union.

“So is he saying, we don’t have the right to say pay us and go on strike, what is illegal in the activity that we have carried out? Is strike not recognised by law using to pressurise employer to address the issues? he queried.

According to him, in the eye of the law, the state government cannot stop ASSU as a union which is a chapter of the national body duly registered with a license.

“These are the views of the union and the action is condemnable. If there are issues he should resolve it with the union and not banning the union activities because you don’t want to resolved the issues” he said.

Meanwhile, Obaseki, has said his government would sustain investment in technical and vocational education to drive the state’s industrial growth.

The governor, according to a statement, gave the assurance when he received members of the Benin College Old Students’ Association Worldwide, led by the President, Rev. Friday Emuze, who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.

Obaseki disclosed that his government plans to build about 20 technical colleges, with one in each local council of the state to cater for the manpower to drive Edo’s industrial growth, ensuring the creation of employment opportunities and attainment of self-sufficiency.

Heeding the group’s request for the Government Science and Technical College, Benin to revert to its original name, the Benin Technical College, the governor said, “You are right, there was really no need to change the name. I am going to have conversations with the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa-Oviawe, and make a strong adjustment.

“I am convinced that we should restore the school to its original name. I am also glad about how you are going to mark your anniversary by giving awards to the students and supporting students in sporting activities. By the way, we have plans to build mini stadia in that location to encourage sports.”

Obaseki continued: “We are working with the federal government in making sure that the Federal College of Education, Technical in Ekiadolor starts earnestly so that we can train a pool of teachers to help us begin to spread our new gospel of revamping technical education in our state.

“One of the reasons why we must go back to the Benin Technical College is that we are going to have more technical colleges in city centres; so let everybody bear their names.”

“We want to have 20 technical colleges; one in each local government. So, you can imagine the requirements in terms of teachers, technical know-how and equipment. Even if we have all the money, there are still some gaps to be filled,” he added.

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