OP-UNEDITED | ASUU Strike: End of the Road for Ngige? – By Kelvin Ighalo

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has blasted the Minister for labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige on his attempt to blackmail the union on its demands.

The spokesperson for the union, Comrade Olisa Umeh today in Awka, Anambra State describe as unfortunate efforts by the Minister to sabotage the union for his selfish reasons.

Umeh disclosed further that Ngige has lost focus on his primary duty as a minister of Labour where he is expected to spearhead negotiations between ASUU and the Federal government. But rather, the minister has turned himself to an emergency godfather in view of the upcoming Anambra election.

To express their displeasure, the Union is currently holding a peaceful rally in Awka to press home their demand having embarked on an indefinite strike since Monday over Federal Government failure to keep to the 2009 agreement.

Ngige was expected to borrow a leaf from the strands of his white hair by exhibiting wisdom by addressing the protracted ASUU strike and bring an end to it through proper negotiation with the union in the absence of the president.

This display of grandstanding by Dr Ngige is seen by many as irresponsible, ineptitude and unprofessionalism in the discharge of his duties. Since he assumed office as the minister, he has not been able to show serious zeal in moving the country forward through the portfolio that was assigned to him.

He should endeavour to address the lingering Labour problems in the country which even degenerated to the killing of civil servants in Kogi and other states.

In addition, Pensioners, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has also criticized the minister while accusing him of high level  of nepotism in the discharge of his duties.

Specifically, the NUP declared that Ngige was using his position to circumvent the trade union and pension laws to favour his kinsmen.

Briefing the Press at the Labour House, Abuja, the Chairman, Electricity Sector branch of the NUP, Mr Abel Olas Eikhor, accused the Minister of directing the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorates (PTAD) to circumvent the law and pay union dues into the account of an individual who is not a member of the Union.

The Union stated that rather than address the issues of a petition written against a former Chairman, Temple Ubani, the Minister who should be conversant with the provisions of the law asked  PTAD to pay check off dues deducted from the Union members to Ubani even when Ubani was no longer a member of the union, having formed his own association.

He pointed out that in total disregard to the provisions of the Trade Union Act, the Minister has directed the PTAD to remit union dues of members of the Union to the accounts of Chief Ubani.

This is a clarion call by Mr President to save his prestige as well as that of Nigeria from an ineptitude that is associated with the office of minister of labour and employment. Technocrats who know what the ministry is all about should be shopped for to replace the medical Doctor immediately who was appointed on compensation basis.

Ngige should be relieved of his duties now to avert this ugly scenario that has consistently played out since he assumed office. It is time we start putting round pegs in round holes.

Kelvin Ighalo wrote from Awka


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