Dr. Chris Ngige, the former Minister of Labour and Employment, has criticized Aminu Goro, a member of the House Committee on Education, for making false claims, spreading lies, and launching unwarranted attacks in the House for political gain. Ngige stated that there were no plans to ban the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). He expressed his surprise at Goro’s outburst during the farewell session of the 9th House and advised him to familiarize himself with the Trade Union Act (2004) instead of tarnishing the reputation of others for personal political survival.
According to a statement from Ngige’s Media Office, the minister clarified that the Minister of Labour does not require presidential approval to revoke the registration certificates of trade unions. The Trade Union Act of 2004 empowers the Registrar of Trade Unions to cancel a certificate on his own accord, particularly in cases where ASUU had violated Section 3 by failing to submit audited accounts annually. ASUU had been in default for five years.
Ngige further explained that the Essential Services Act (Cap T9) under the Trade Dispute Act allows the President to proscribe any union involved in an illegal strike. However, during the 2022 ASUU strike, neither the President nor any Education or Labour Minister proposed such a measure because the Minister of Labour and Employment acted appropriately by referring the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication, as stipulated in Section 17 of the Trade Dispute Act of 2004. Therefore, the allegation made by Aminu Goro about an arm-twisting ban was unfounded, as former President Buhari and his officials chose to uphold the rule of law in dealing with the ongoing strike after conciliation failed.
Ngige criticized Goro’s narrative, which he viewed as an attempt to please the audience, including fellow outgoing members, at the expense of patriotic Nigerians, including the former President. He called for the discouragement of such misleading accounts, even by the outgoing Speaker. Ngige clarified that no such incident occurred on the executive side, and the described scenario never took place. He acknowledged the contributions of the outgoing Speaker and the Chief of Staff designates to the President in resolving the ASUU issue, along with others from the government, traditional leaders, and religious leaders. However, the ultimate solution and relief came from the judiciary. The judges of both the National Industrial Court of Nigeria and the Court of Appeal fearlessly interpreted the relevant sections of the Trade Dispute Act of 2004 and ordered ASUU to return to the classrooms.