In the face of the seemingly endless cycle of negotiations and deadlocks between the Federal Government and ASUU, renowned lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has explained why it is very difficult for the Federal Government to ban the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU).
In an article published by Sahara Reporters, Falana pointed out a solid reason why ASUU’s demonstrations can not be penalised by the government. He said, “Under the current democratic dispensation, the fundamental right of citizens to form or belong to political parties and trade unions is guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act. As a member of the committee of civilised nations the Government of Nigeria has ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No. 87 of the International Labour Organization Convention. It is pertinent to note that parties to the Convention are obligated to ensure the right of both employers and employees to join an organisation of their choice and free from any influence of authorities which belong to the core principles of the ILO.
“Therefore, to ban ASUU the Government will have to amend the fundamental right of citizens to freedom of association enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution. It is a special amendment which requires the resolution of four fifths of members of the National Assembly and approved by two thirds majority of members of not less than 24 Houses of Assembly. In addition, the Federal Government will withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention No 87of the International Labour Organisation. The anti-democratic forces urging the Buhari administration to ban ASUU should be made to realise that a democratic government lacks the competence to abrogate the fundamental rights of citizens outside the ambit of the Constitution”.
He also encouraged those who are berating ASUU for alleged recalcitrance to advise the Federal Government to accord priorities to the funding of tertiary education, adding that ASUU is currently the best organised trade union in Africa.