The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, came under fire from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday for prohibiting union activities at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
On June 8, as students at the university demonstrated against the unions’ protracted strike, Obaseki suspended the operations of ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), and the Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
Obaseki has no authority to forbid the union’s operations, according to ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, who spoke to national delegates of the union during a solidarity protest at the university.
He said: “The governor did not establish the union, therefore, he doesn’t have the right or the power to ban the union. He doesn’t have that right. He is just making noise and it will not work.
“What we are doing today is symbolic in many respects. Firstly, as a union of intellectuals, we have the responsibility to protect the integrity and sanctity of university education in Nigeria. What Obaseki is doing is tantamount to destruction of university education and we will not allow it.
“Secondly, we know no university can do it alone, no university can operate in isolation. What Obaseki is trying to do is to isolate AAU Ekpoma for destruction.
“We owe it a duty to the name of the founder, who was a reputable scholar, to preserve the sanctity of Ekpoma. So, we are here to support our members, boost their confidence and let them know they should stand for their rights.
“In the third place, we believe if we don’t do this, other states will follow the same pattern, which is dictatorial and not known to the university system.
“University is a universal environment for intellectual engagement. As Nigerian scholars, it is our duty to challenge him and restore normalcy as well as let him know that he cannot get away with this in a university system.
“So, we will continue to support Ambrose Alli University for as long as Obaseki does not change his ways and we will stand by any other universities in Nigeria that are visited with Obaseki’s treatment.”