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Workers’ Union begs Labour minister to intervene on lingering crisis

ABIA, Nigeria – The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) Reformed Group, South East Zone, has urged the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige to intervene in the age-long crisis rocking the national leadership of ASURI.

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The group had been enmeshed in a protracted crisis leading to its polarization.

Rising from its meeting at National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Umuahia, Abia state, the ASURI Reformed Group, which broke away from the ASURI mainstream body, said the minister’s earlier attempt to address the crisis in the Union, was allegedly blocked by some powerful interests in the ministry.

The Reformed Group similarly hailed the recent removal of the Director General and Chief Executive of Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi Lagos state, Mr. Chima Igwe from office over alleged non-existent PhD saga.

In a communique after their meeting in Umudike, signed by Engr. Chidiebere Okolo, the Chairman, and Dr. Nwadili Christian, secretary, South East Reformed Group of ASURI, and made available to journalists in Enugu yesterday, the group accused the national leadership of ASURI under Dr. Adebayo Ajala and Dr. T. C. N. Ndubuaku, national President and Secretary respectively, of being responsible for the crisis in the Union.

They said that the Reformed Group came to being “as a result of serious breaches and continuous abuse of ASURI constitution as well as large scale mismanagement and financial recklessness of the Union funds for several years now”.

The communique stated that a petition by the aggrieved members sent to the Minister and which he minuted to the directorate of Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations (TUSIR), which has direct responsibility to mediate in the matter, was not acted upon, a development they viewed as sabotage.

The group said that the leadership of the Union, despite all the issues raised by the aggrieved group, continued to exhibit dictatorial tendencies and constitutional breaches, including illegal suspension of critical members and convocation of a “kangaroo” National Delegates Conference “to select their stooges” and perpetuate themselves in office.

The group said it had since dragged the leadership of the Union to court and anti-graft agencies over constitutional and financial breaches.

The communique noted that even when the issue of alleged non-existing PhD certificate involving the suspended FIIRO DG was raging, ASURI leadership played the Ostrich game while other sister Unions stood up to be counted.

“We therefore welcome the recent development in FIIRO that has led to his (DG’s) removal,” they said.

The reformed group said that a sane and progressive working environment can only be achieved if Union leaders complement government and management efforts, and genuinely fight for the rights and privileges of their members.

“When Union leaders perpetually plant themselves in positions of authority and never wanting to leave is, to say the least, militarisation and autocratic stance,” the group said.

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