The National President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Osodeke Emmanuel, yesterday, said the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has no constitutional right to proscribe union activities in the state-owned university, Ambrose Alli University.
He disclosed this when he led other national delegates of the union in solidarity protest to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, over their unpaid salaries and other sundry issues besetting the institution.
“The governor did not establish the union, therefore, he doesn’t have the right or the power to ban the union. He doesn’t have that right.
“It is not within his jurisdiction. It is in exclusive list. So, ASUU is a properly registered union to operate anywhere in this country. He has no right, he is just making noise and it will not work,” he said.
Corroborating the national president, the immediate past president, Prof. Biodun Opeyemi, said the union needs to rise up against the action of the state governor for proscribing union activities in the state-owned university, in order to deter other state governors from toeing Obaseki’s line.
“What we are doing today, it is symbolic in many respects. In the first place, as a union of intellectuals, we have the responsibility to protect the integrity and sanctity of university education in Nigeria. What Obaseki is doing is tantamount to destruction of university education, we will not allow it.
“In the second place, we know no university can do it alone, no university can be rare in isolation.
“What Obaseki is trying to do today, is to isolate AAU Ekpoma for destruction. We owe it a duty to history and to the name of the founder, who was a reputable scholar, to preserve the sanctity of Ekpoma.
“So, we are here to show solidarity to our members, so that we can shore up their confidence and they should stand for their rights.
“In the third place, we believe if we don’t do this, other universities in Nigeria will follow same pattern. They will follow the path of dictatorship. Dictatorship is not known to the university system. When you get to the university system, even as a graduate assistant, you can challenge a professor if what a professor is saying is not correct according to the available information.
“So, we as trained scholars; we are trained to challenge authorities when they are wrong. So, what we are doing today, it is symbolic. Obaseki must learn the correct and proper culture of the university system.
“University is for engagement and it is a universal environment for intellectual engagement.
“So, we as Nigerian scholars, we owe it a duty to challenge him. We owe it as a duty to bring him to normalcy, we owe it as a duty to tell him that he cannot get away with the university system.
“So, we will continue to support Ambrose Alli University for as long as Obaseki does not change his way and we will stand by any other universities in Nigeria that is visited with the Obaseki treatment,” Opeyemi said.
Earlier, the state-owned Ambrose Alli University AAU- ASUU chairman, Dr. Cyril Onogbosele, said the state government is owing the union 19 months salary arrears, just as he added that they have lost 10 of their members to the cold hands of death, due to lack of funds to take care of themselves.