The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said that Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has failed in his responsibility and turned to spokesperson to Accountant General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance.
In a statement issued on Tuesday quoted that “One needs not be a psychologist to understand the behaviour and recent utterances of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.
“The Minister has clearly shown his disdain for Nigerian academics and has failed to play the role of an unbiased umpire in moderating the imbroglio.
“He has now become the spokesperson to the accountant general of the federation and the ministry of finance, instead of finding solution for lecturers to get back to work, he is turning the wheel of progress backwards by setting ASUU on a collision course with other presure groups in the university. Clearly Dr Ngige is on a war part with ASUU, said ASUU.
“As men of letters, we would have elected to ignore Senator Chris Ngige’s deliberate misinformation and deceit. So, this response is more to straighten the record than it is to massage the minister’s ego.
“Dr Ngige is, by now, a figuration well known for poignant penchant for speaking from both sides of his mouth. This is demonstrated by his irregular postures in the ongoing negotiation between the federal government and our union which, to say the least, betray his insincerity and irresponsibility as an appointee of the federal government.
“In furtherance of his intimidation of the lecturers and misinformation of the public, Ngige argued that autonomy could not hold in the prevailing circumstance. On this, we would like to educate the honorable Minister that public universities in Nigeria are creatures of law as each university is established by an Act enacted by the National Assembly.
“These enabling laws specify the powers, functions and responsibilities of the various constituent bodies and functionaries of the universities. There are several of these Acts, namely The University (Miscellaneous Provision) Act No. 11, 1993, and 1996.
“In the past few weeks, for instance, Ngige has said one thing when he met with the union and a different thing on the same subject in interviews with the media. This double character of a Minister and a purported negotiator in the face-off should be a source of worry to not only the body of Nigerian students but also parents who patronize public universities as the minister’s untoward attitude is undermining the reopening of these schools.
“There is also the famous University (Miscellaneous Provision) Amendment Act 2003, otherwise called The University Autonomy Act No. 1, 2007. A section in the 2003, Act clearly proclaims the autonomy or independence of the universities.
“The powers of the council shall be exercised, as in the Law and Statutes of each University and to this extent establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the Laws and Statutes of the University shall not apply to the Universities.
“The Governing Council of a University shall be free in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its responsibilities for the good management, growth and development of the University, the statement concluded.