The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State Universities has faulted the comments credited to the President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke’s comments on state universities.
The group said state universities cannot be coerced to implement an agreement reached between the Federal Government and federal lecturers.
The pro-chancellors also made a case for the democratisation of union membership In universities.
In a statement by its Secretary, Marcus Awobifa, they called for devolution of powers on labour, wages and salary issues. According to them, employers should be free to negotiate with their employees.
The pro-chancellors said: “The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities (COPSUN) read with alarm and disbelief a statement made by the President of the ASUU Prof. Emmanuel Osodike on a television programme on Arise, where he said that state universities are ‘irrelevant and quacks’ on 26th August 2022.
“Our first reaction was to ignore this tendentious, ill-conceived and flagrant unconscionable statement, but on reflection, it was thought necessary to do a rejoinder to this rather unfortunate statement having regard to the position of the president of ASUU in the scheme of things in our university system in Nigeria.
“The pro-chancellors of our state universities and indeed members of the councils are distinguished and accomplished eminent persons who had served and still serving this Nation in many capacities…
“COPSUN wishes to appeal to the President of ASUU to realise that the membership of ASUU is voluntary.
“Therefore, it is not his ill-informed approach and denigration of state universities that will lead to fashioning out creative approaches to avoid existential extinction that will solve the myriad of problems confronting the University system in Nigeria.
“The very unfortunate, ill-digested view of the President of ASUU has vindicated the position of this Committee on the following issues: The negative professionalisation of offices of the unions that operate in our universities and the unserious belief among many members of the unions that the unions are superior to the councils of the universities that are their employers.
“The need for immediate democratisation of the membership of unions in the universities to the extent of the freedom of any individual to belong to a union with options of not belonging.
“Devolution of powers on the issues of labour, wages and salaries with freedom of the employers to negotiate with their employees, as it is practised in other parts of the world, where we borrowed the university system.
“State universities cannot be forced or coerced to implement agreements reached between the Federal Government and her workers in the universities to which they are not parties.
“It is time to respect the Federal nature of our government in all matters and not selectively, especially on the issues of salaries and wages.” The body said.