NUT, ASUSS battle for membership of secondary school teachers

It is apparent that the lingering crisis between the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and the breakaway Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) has degenerated into a new dimension as both unions now engage in a war of words.

NUT which has been the umbrella body for all public primary and secondary school teachers in the country for almost 90 years, is insisting that it will continue to be in control of all  teachers.

It insisted that the teachers in primary and secondary schools are better protected and covered by the union, and therefore no reason for any group under it to pull away.

But ASUSS on its part has vehemently disagreed with this position saying as far as  it is concerned, it is already an independent separate trade union for only secondary school teachers.

The body added the members are already having a sense of belonging and arealso enjoying the dividends of a trade union.

The national president of NUT, Dr Nasir Idris, however, made it clear that ASUSS’ position would not stand.

At a news conference in Lagos recently, Dr Idris cautioned all public secondary school teachers in the country to distant themselves from ASUSS.

He alleged that the union is only spreading falsehood to make the public believe that it has won the battle against NUT, and claiming to have secured the Supreme Court’s judgment as a recognised trade union.

He said NUT would not have bothered about the claim but for the need to prevent confusion and disaffection among teachers in public secondary schools in the country.

He insists that NUT covers all teachers in public schools below tertiary levels, adding that its status would forever remain so without any faction

The vice-president of NUT, Mr Kelvin Nwankwo, who represented Idris at the Lagos event, pointed out that NUT has not failed (and will not fail) in championing the course of the nation’s public primary and secondary school teachers.

Idris even cited the approval of 27.5 per cent Teachers Peculiar Allowance, the recent upgrade by five years of retirement age to 65 years or 40 years in service and the annual National Teacher Awards, among others, as references to support the position.

He noted that there are many national officers of the union who are secondary school teachers, debunking the claim by ASUSS that it has secured the Supreme Court’s judgment in its favour.

Idris said there is no such claim in the resolution of the apex court concerning the matter that brought both of them before it.

Giving the background, Idris explained that it was NUT that originally challenged ASUSS at  the High Court for parading itself as a trade union with secondary school teachers as members, adding that the court ruled in NUT’s favour.

Idris said further that ASUSS challenged the judgment at the appellate court, and then the Supreme Court.

He disclosed that the latter referred both parties to the Court of Appeal for rehearing on  the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, in the first instance on the matter.

But in its reaction, ASUSS said NUT has long lost grip over secondary school teachers, according to it, in at least 25 states of the federation.

The national president, Mr Samuel Omaji and the secretary-general of ASUSS, Mr Sola Adigun, told Nigerian Tribune that NUT has no constitutional power to determine its existence or otherwise.

They said ASUSS had already secured a Supreme Court judgment on January 15 this year to be on its own, adding that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment also agreed to the ruling.

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