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ASUU, CONUA in fresh clash over legitimacy

By Iyabo Lawal
27 December 2019   |   4:15 am
The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has taken on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its leadership, debunking the claim that it (CONUA) is a faction of the latter.

Biodun Ogunyemi

• We’re not going back to lies, propaganda, CONUA vows
• ‘No faction exits, only dissatisfied violators of constitution’

The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has taken on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its leadership, debunking the claim that it (CONUA) is a faction of the latter.The reaction came on the heels of the recent interview ASUU National President Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi granted the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Refuting insinuations that the union now has a splinter group, Ogunyemi had said: “I do not believe that there is a faction in ASUU. What you see playing out is the expression of misgivings by some of our members who are dissatisfied with the sanctions meted out to them for violating the provisions of our constitution.

“And you will find the largest concentration at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. In that university, you will also find that we still control up to 60 per cent or more of the membership. And if you leave Ile-Ife and go to other campuses where they are pronouncing that they want to join one group or the other, you cannot count more than five in those universities. That tells you that the group we are talking about just exists in the air, that group is not on ground.”

Ogunyemi said further that the University of Ilorin and the Federal University, Lokoja, were now fully back in ASUU and so could not be listed as those opposing the union. According to him, “I visited the place and I met with a few people that said they were dissatisfied with the way the union was being run in the branch. After engaging them, they said that they were ready to join the union and so they are going back to ASUU.”

The ASUU president said the association had always engaged dissatisfied members with a view to addressing their grievances and working towards moving the union forward. The union is currently resolving the crisis at Obafemi Awolowo University, he said, stressing that the crisis between members of the union in the institution would soon be resolved.

“What we do in our union is to engage them; we do not write anybody off, even those we suspended or expelled. We give window for them to appeal. Even at Ife, now, there is a process of engagement that has been ongoing for some time, and we believe that crisis will soon be a thing of the past.”

But responding in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, CONUA National Secretary Dr Henry Oripeloye insisted: “CONUA is not a faction of ASUU. It is an independent union that has applied for registration. We have our own independent union different from ASUU. We are an independent union.”He claimed: “Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi is getting more jittery and confused on this matter. He is running from pillar to post. And, of course, it has become too late.”

On claims that some CONUA members were merely kicking against sanctions imposed for constitutional breaches, Oripeloye, who is of the Obafemi Awolowo University, challenged the ASUU president to name the violated provisions.“Prof. Ogunyemi forgot to tell the world that he breached the constitution when he singlehandedly removed the branch treasurer in OAU, which is against the constitution of the union. We now ask, who is breaching the constitution?”

Oripeloye dismissed claims of reconciliation, stressing that no member of CONUA is attending any such meeting in Obafemi Awolowo University or elsewhere. “For us, there is no going back to Egypt. ASUU’s conventional way of managing crisis is through lies and propaganda. Our members are growing in leaps and bounds. Surprisingly, many universities are applying to join CONUA. The public should therefore disregard the lies,” he said.

The national secretary, noted further: “Our members are in Federal University, Lokoja; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Port Harcourt; Federal University, Oye; Obafemi Awolowo University; and Kwara State University, Malete, and the membership is growing on a daily basis.

“On the Federal University, Lokoja, Ogunyemi was there actually because he supervises TETFund contracts in universities. In the process, he wanted to meet CONUA members but the chairman did not meet him and he’s now saying the members are back to ASUU. I want to ask, if you went to a branch and did not meet the chairman, how did you resolve the issue there?“For us, CONUA has come to stay. No going back anywhere. Our membership is intact. No reconciliation meeting. For us, it is too late for anybody to be talking about that at this time.”

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