By Akaninyene Oton
Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Akwa Ibom State council has called on the provost, Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit, Dr. Daniel George Udo to reverse the recent suspension of four staff of the college.
In a letter titled “Re – Suspension from Duty As the College Staff for three months without pay” dated June 28,2022 with reference number NLC/AKS/TU/VOL. VII/1212 addressed to the provost copied to the Governor, Akwa Ibom State, Speaker, AKHA, Secretary to the State Government, Head of Service, Chairman, Governing Council, College of Education, Commissioners in charge of Labour, Education, and Finance respectively; Civil Service Commission among others, the NLC states “the leadership of Congress is hereby compelled to call on you to cause a reversal and withdrawal of the suspension letter with immediate effect until the already initiated government mediation runs full circle, failure which we shall be left with no option than to declare a total industrial unrest in your college without any further notice”.
The letter signed by the chairperson of NLC, Comrade Sunny James reads in parts,” we received with pains the news of your undignified action of suspension of labour leaders, members of College of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, Akwa Ibom State chapter – which of course is one of the affiliates of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, from duty for three months without pay.
“The leadership of Congress is disappointed by the hasty decision of the Governing Council masterminded by you without due process and also not exhausting the grievance handling measure. We are more saddened that the highest of the college with highly cerebral persons would allow themselves to be misled by a man who was once a labour leader of a union and supposed to be more knowledgeable on industrial relations matters and grievance management, who himself took part in many national directed strikes of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, as the Akwa Ibom State chairman.
“Whereas, we are aware that the labour leaders did not deserve such suspension and have not gone contrary to rules as enshrined in Labour Laws and the ILO conventions on demands of Rights and privileges. And that the labour leaders of COEASU were responding to the national directive of their union to join other states of the federation on the ongoing national strike to press home their demand for improved infrastructure and facilities upgrade, TETFUND improvement across the college’s etc. These demands when met shall also improve the condition of the colleges including Akwa Ibom State College of Education and you shall be the greatest beneficiary, being yourself the chief accounting officer of the college”.
In the same vein, College of Education Academic Staff Union, National Secretariat has also demanded the retraction of “all direct and indirect moves to victimize and /or punish our members under this guise”.
In a letter dated June 27,2022 and signed by the General Secretary, Dr. Ahmed Bazza Lawan titled “Victimization of COEASU Members of the College Against the Ongoing National Strike Action” addressed to the provost, the national body of COEASU noted that “the national officers council has received with consternation, the clandestine move by the management of your college to victimize members of our Union against participation in the ongoing national industrial action. This unexpected anomaly from our own provost could be inferred from the content of the internal memo titled “Proposed Abandonment of the Duty of some Academic Staff of the College of Education, Afaha Nsit dated June 15,2022 and a memo of suspension from duty of some chapter executive members of the union dated June 23,2022”.
COEASU National Secretariat described the provost’s action of restraining the members from joining the national strike action as anti – union which is “not only condemnable but smacks of unexpected ingratitude to our Union”.
It would be recalled that four executive members of College of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU, Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit chapter were on June 23,2022 suspended from duty for three months without pay by the management of the college.
The suspension letters which were signed by the registrar and secretary to council, Barr. Augustine Etim Udoibit titled “Suspension from duty as the college staff for three months without pay” directed the affected staff to hand over the college property in their possession to their Heads of Department as the suspension took effect from June 24,2022.
The letters however, did not state the offence of the affected staff but our reporter garnered that they were suspended for joining the national strike action as a branch.
Meanwhile,the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has stepped into the matter for amicable resolution. The affected staff are Dr. Godwin S. Akpan, COEASU chairman; Dr. Ubong Akpan, Vice chairman;Mr. Etim Inyang, Secretary and Mr. Ofonime Udoh, PRO.