The Federal Government has advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to abide by the ruling of the National Industrial Court and call off its ongoing nationwide strike, pending negotiations.
The Minister of Labor and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, gave the advice while fielding questions from journalists at the Federal Government of Nigeria, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the European Union: High-level side event on the fringes of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, and the official launch of the Nigeria Integrated National Financing Framework (NIFF) Report.
Recall that the NIC on Wednesday ordered ASUU to call off its ongoing nationwide strike, pending the determination of a case filed by the Federal Government.
In an attempt to end the strike amid the uproar caused by the more than seven-month-long strike, the government took the union to court.
The government filed an application for an interim injunction and sought an order from the court restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike.
Judge Polycarp Hamman ruled on the government’s application and restrained ASUU from continuing with the strike and ordered that the case file be returned to the President of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another judge as he is a vacation judge is.
According to him, the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions, and the Trade Disputes Act instructs workers not to start a strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.
Responding to a question on how soon ASUU will end the strike with the ruling, the Minister of Labor said: “I am not ASUU but the maximum in the law is that when there is a court judgment or judgment or order , you first have to comply and then we can apply for an appeal if you want it or apply for a stay which is a stay of execution.
“So the maxim in the law, jurisprudence and everything about the law, is that you obey the court’s ruling, judgment or order, no matter how bad. The qualifying thing is that no matter how bad and no matter how you disagree with it, you obey first. As the military people say, obey before complaining.
“So we expect them to come back to the classrooms, but this does not conclude negotiations, the negotiations should actually be on, they will be official and unofficial.
“For example, the House of Representatives invited us to come and inform them. And together they are stakeholders. You heard that Mr. President told the committee of pro-chancellors when they visited him, that he would consult on the two requests to put a cherry on the cake on the government offer to ASUU members and the issue of resettlement fund to the effect of the ” no work no pay” situation they found themselves in.
“So, president will look into it, the House of Reps are stakeholders, Ministers we are not only stakeholders, we are advisers to mr. President through the provisions of the Constitution, Article 5 of the Constitution and 147, who appoints ministers one from each state of the Federation, and we hold regular meetings with him, so we are his chief advisers.
“So, we will liaise with the House of Representatives and all of us will jointly advise Mr. President.”