A faith-based human rights organisation, The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has disagreed with the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria (ASUU) on its stand regarding the professorial appointment of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Ibrahim Ali Pantami. It will be recalled that ASUU yesterday described Professor Pantami’s appointment as ‘illegal’. Reacting to the development, MURIC said ASUU had not learnt its lesson.
The human rights group spoke through its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 15th February, 2022.
MURIC said :
“The Academic Staff Union of Universities yesterday declared Professor Pantami’s professorial appointment as illegal. It is the joke of the century. ASUU has no locus standi to declare illegal an appointment made by a university with the approval of the appointment and promotions committee and ratified by the university’s council.
“What is ASUU national trying to do? What exactly is their problem? ASUU national has no right to usurp the powers of University A & P or that of its council. On what ground is ASUU acting as a national A & P (if there is anything like that) and the Grand Council of all universities.
“It is trespass. ASUU national should know its limits. Again, is there any section of ASUU constitution which empowers it to override appointments made by universities? This is an affront. No more, no less.
“The last time we checked, the power of appointment rests with A & P Committee of each university and pronouncement rests with the university council. No university worth its salt will consult ASUU over issue of promotion or appointment. Where did ASUU national get this absurd idea?
“Again, when last did ASUU wade into procedures for promotion or appointment of the academia in any Nigerian university? What we know of is that individual lecturers who feel wronged on promotion issues may report their university to the local ASUU. That is why what the national body is doing is strange. Or is it a witch-hunt?
“Is ASUU dancing to the gallery by championing the hate campaign of a section of the country? But will ASUU be able to carry all its branches along? For instance, will Northern universities see things the way ASUU national sees it? ASUU national will divide this body again if it continues this way. Remember that many other universities have formed other lecturers’ associations because of bullying from the center.
“One expects ASUU national to have learnt its lesson by now. There is a world of difference between fighting the collective cause of all members and fighting your own member or fighting a particular branch. This is a fight you cannot win. What came out of the conflict between ASUU national and its Unilorin branch? Who blinked first? Ilorin dealt with ASUU national and got away with it.
“It is quite amusing that ASUU national threatened to sanction those who participated in the process that led to what ASUU called ‘illegal’ appointment. It is an empty threat. Unions are not held together by the force of threats. They are kept alive by good leadership, tolerance and sacrifice.
“Besides, Professor Pantami’s work at FUTO is a voluntary work that attracts no payment and this has a place in the rules of the civil service. Neither is the minister doing it without the knowledge and approval of Mr. President.
“Before dropping the anchor, we assert clearly, unequivocally and categorically that appointments conducted by A & P committee of the university and ratified by council cannot be illegal. ASUU national leaders should avoid issues capable of tearing its union apart.”