Government Is Wrong For Punishing ASUU To Strike – Ahamba

Government Is Wrong For Punishing ASUU To Strike – Ahamba

Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, in this interview with DEBORAH MUSA, talks about why ASUU
cannot be proscribed and blamed the Federal Government for refusing to pay the backlog of
salaries owed the lecturers among other issues.


ASUU Strike was unfortunately postponed indefinitely when we were hoping it would be called off. This infuriated some people who demanded that the ASUU be proscribed. In light of this, can the Federal Government ban the union?

No! That would infringe their freedom of association. As we all know, the disagreement between Federal Government and the ASUU now, is because the FG has insisted on not paying the ASUU the backlog of salaries for the duration of the strike period saying the no work no pay policy stands and the ASUU wouldn’t accept that because they in turn, argued that they will do backlog of the academic work for the duration of the strike.

NLC has taken the side of the ASUU, saying they have every right to their salaries which should be paid. Do you agree with the NLC Yes. You see, our people here sometimes do not know the difference between a military regime and a civilian regime. The military regime does not rule with a constitution so whatever they say, is the constitution. When they do certain things, the civilians think they can copy, it’s not true. Going on strike is legitimate, so long as you started it legitimately, there are conditions present for going on strike and I think the ASUU complied and they went on strike, so you cannot, when someone has gone on strike based on the law of the land, you want to punish him for going on strike, I don’t think it will work.

In my honest opinion, government .is wrong Giving the fact that the government is wrong and it is ASUU’s right to demand for their salaries, to be paid, can the ASUU go ahead to sue the federal government for refusing to pay them for the duration of the time that they were on strike Yes they can; because they have a case. It is legitimate. Like I told you, a strike is legitimate in a civilian regime. It is allowed in the Labour law. So long as you follow the procedure for calling a strike. If they follow the procedure in calling this strike, a settlement can come in. You cannot put them in jeopardy, for doing what they have the right under our laws to do.

That is why those who advise the government should be careful not to misdirect the government. Most of the people working for them advise them on issues they aren’t grounded about. You see, so this is it, if they go to court, they will succeed but first thing, let them restore the normalcy of academic work and they will talk about legality of this issue because our children are suffering, the education in the country is suffering and these people don’t care.

They don’t care about it because all their children are in London and America. It’s not right. As far as I am concerned, they are entitled to the pay during the strike period Away from ASUU, recently, the National Industrial Court, in. Abuja, ordered that there should be an increment in the Judges Salary and Allowances. We all know the rot in the judicial system. Do you think the increment will be able to fix the setbacks I don’t think so. But then, I am not saying that they are not entitled to increment.

The thing is this, the Judge who made the order for salary to be increased, didn’t make an order invaco, you make an order for something that can be done to be done. I believe that the issue is something that we negotiated in the appropriate body in the government, the commission that looks into these things, that’s where the issue lies. They should take a lawyer who can go there and speak for them and they fight it out there but to stay in one place and order, that judges should have a particular increment, the state government don’t all have equal money so how do you tell the governments to give you equal money, now, if you ask them to do that, where will they get the money? Take for example, the Lagos state government, the Imo state government or the Abia state government don’t have the same source of revenue, Rivers, Bayelsa and so forth, they have more money than all those who don’t have, so, if you stay here and order an increment, without a negotiating point to know how it should be done, it will collapse. It will definitely collapse. So, I can’t say if the judge was wrong or right because I don’t know what was placed before her. I believe that the government can now fully detain to another level, to test it out whether it was an illegal order. They can go to the court of appeal and test it out but I can’t say if the judge was wrong or right because I am not court of Appeal but the issues can be argued if it is wrong or right, it can be argued.

Lately, Nigeria has been faced with dire insecurity challenges, and persons have come up with the opinion of a well-funded state/community police system to be the answer that can tackle this. Is State or Community Police constitutionally right?

Thank you for this question. You see, before this crisis of insecurity, the issue had come up and I have always argued against state police, reason being that, it has been there before and we know what happened. I still remember the photograph of J.F Kalka of Benue state when I was in secondary school. I saw him being dragged through the streets of Koke, in the newspaper with his hand handcuffed behind him. He was arrested by the local police.

As you know, my father was a politician. I know that some independent candidates were arrested by the local police and dragged to the customary court for criminal matters just to stop them from contesting elections. Something happened that led to the proscription of the state police. Before we restore, we must go and sit down, consider those things and see whether they are capable of happening again now because if they happen now, they will be more deadly because the state police will not have Ak-47.

So, why the security reverse, we must find a way that will not create another problem. Look at what Hisbah is doing in Kano, discriminating religiously and I have argued, against it, this is wrong. There’s no provision for state police in the constitution and what we have to do is to get into the national assembly and argue the issue in our amendment bill or something like that. Even, like I have always advocated that we sit-down and reconsider our constitution. This thing can be argued, they will look at the pros and cons of it.

There are people in a country, once there is a problem, and they stay in one place and suggest something. They think it’s easy, they don’t know that by doing that, they are creating a more dangerous situation in the country to which they have no solution to. That is it. It is not creating state police that will make the federal police to be conscious of their responsibility. You can’t get people to do their job in the country but if they decide to do state police, I am not against it but I’m saying we should go back and know why we proscribed it in the first place because remember that the 1979 constitution was done by the civilians not by the military.

There was a constituent assembly that did that thing and one of the things they dropped was because of the mistakes they had before and if they think that mistake cannot come again, well and good but i don’t want a situation where there will be war between one state or the other being fought by the police. If it’s happening in one place, it can spread to another place. These are the issues I am fighting about. Let us sit down and discuss the pros and cons and not talk about it in the newspaper that is what I am talking about. It can create more problems than solved, it’s a possibility but if we discuss it and the consensus is that it is okay for us, we do it. It’s our country.

Can you speak about the general state of the nation?

First thing is that the government in charge right now has lost control of the country. Security wise, economy wise, society wise, nothing is functioning, education, everything has collapsed. That is the state of the nation. We are in a state of collapse. Complete collapse and if something is not done quickly, anarchy will take over. This is the truth of the matter. Let’s say it.

The government is not in control of any part of this country anymore. Today in Nigeria, people can just go out, kill people, put their head on the road and go away. What type of a nation is that? It’s not right. This government as far as I am concerned has failed even though the head of state is my friend, I have to say it. The government has failed Truly, Nigerians are pained because they feel like this government has failed them and they are all looking forward to 2023, when this government will hand over to another. This is also the reason why many Nigerians, especially the youth, are campaigning for Peter Obi, because they see him as the slightly new order, as compared to the other two strong contestants from the popular political parties. Who in your opinion do you think has what it takes to take Nigeria out of the rot it is in now I will give you a side example of it now. Have you heard of a man called Pelle? A footballer! The Brazilian footballer, he once described the German team which was then called the German machine as burkenboa and Ken robots. So, if you have one man who is very good and you surround him with incompetent people or people who are opportunist, he may not be as competent as his supposed to be because he is not a dictator. He has to depend on the opinion of people that’s why I tell people considering those who will go to the National Assembly is more important to me than those who will be governor or president because these people control these executives but if you allow incompetent people to go, into the place, they may go there to collude and take their own bits. Now, if you are voting for people who will not play ball with them in that situation, crisis camp, impeachment camp and all those in their camp. I am a politician, I have a party, so, I don’t want to come here and tell you who my candidate is but you know my party has a candidate. I try to be straight forward in everything. My party has chosen a candidate, that’s the person I work for, if he’s not good enough for Nigerians. That’s not my business

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