The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Western Zone, has called on the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, to as a matter of urgency, intervene in the crisis rocking the Ekiti State University, following the proscription of staff unions by the Governing Council of the university led by Prof. Tale Omole.
Staff unions proscribed by the Governing Council are the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) of the university.
While addressing journalists at a press conference on Monday at the University of Ibadan, the National Vice President of SSANU, Mr Abdussobur Salaam, disclosed that the basis of the prescription by the Governing Council of the institution was as a “result of the continuous disruption of lawful activities on campus which have endangered lives and property in the last one week by members of the four staff unions.”
“This basis as a reason for proscription is in itself spurious and a blatant misrepresentation of the realities on the ground,” Salaam said.
According to him, the issues that led to the protest by the proscribed unions include, the irregular disengagement of over one thousand staff in December 2019, unpaid salaries of staff for five months in 2018, non-remittance of deductions to Pension Fund Administrators totalling 24 months, non-remittance of cooperative deductions for over fourteen months scattered through 2018 to 2020.
Others were non-payment of Earned Allowance since 2016 till date, the release of separate funding for college of medicine and non-remittance of tax deductions, the implication of which he said, the staff would have to pay another payment whenever they are in need of tax clearance certificates.
“By assuming to themselves powers they do not have, the Governing Council of Ekiti State University has goofed big time. Under the Nigerian law, labour and regulation of Trade Unions are on the exclusive list and not within the purview of state governments, so, therefore, a state governor will clearly be acting ultra vires his power to proclaim the proscription of any trade union whatever.”
“This is to talk less of a Governing Council which represents the state government as employer of workers in the institution. Therefore, what a state has no power to do cannot be delegated to a body under the state government to do so.”
“Coming on the heels of the impunity perpetrated by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State a few days ago in the unilateral removal of Prof. Micheal Ologunde, Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso without recourse to the legitimate organs of the university vested with such powers, the announcement of the purported proscription of trade unions in Ekiti State is one impunity too many and has called for this reaction by the Western Zone of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).”
“Makinde even though is the Visitor to LAUTECH, does not have the powers to remove a Vice-Chancellor. In Ekiti State, neither the governor nor the Governing Council of any institution has powers to proscribe any trade unions.”
While SSANU said the proscription ran ultra vires and null and void, the association urged embattled members of the proscribed staff unions to continue to abide by the instructions of their branch leadership and ignore any attempts by “despots and “tyrants” to turn them into slaves in their homelands.
The association, however, urged the Ekiti State government to embrace dialogue, negotiation and constructive engagement in resolving the enumerated issues instead of going ahead with the “kamikaze” approach it has adopted, adding that the approach would only blow up in the government’s face if it went ahead.